How To Tell If Noise In Roof Is From Rat Or Possum

October 19, 2021

One of the signs that draw the attention of homeowners to the presence of unwanted guests in the form of rodents and other pests is noticeable noise in the roof of their homes. These rodents are usually rats and mice, or possums which are not rodents but marsupials.

When possums and rats infest a home, there are usually tell-tale signs of their presence. Apart from the noise they make, other signs include chewed out cables, movement of downlights as a result of the weights of animals sitting on top of the light fixtures, and even the mark of urine on the ceiling.

Background Information On Rats And Possums

These two animals belong to two different groups of mammals and it isn’t difficult to tell one from the other. They are different in several ways including colouration, morphological features, and various other biological aspects that make comparing them interesting.

Interesting facts about rats

Rats are rodents with medium-sized bodies. They are larger than mice and have skinny long hairless tails. Male and female rats are referred to as buck and doe respectively. Apart from the fact that they are serious pests to humans, they are also capable of transmitting various pathogenic organisms, but some people keep them as pets.

Rats are omnivores, which makes them qualified to eat just about anything you can eat and even those you would normally not eat. Different breeds of rats have been shown to have different colours including white, grey, black, and ash.

Interesting facts about possums

Possums have small to medium-sized bodies and are classified as marsupials. They are native to Australia as well as to the surrounding islands known as Oceania. There are over 70 different species of possums that are found on different continents in the world.

These animals are nocturnal, meaning they are more active at night. They are also excellent tree climbers. Possums are herbivores and as such will eat foods like fruits, vegetables, young shoots, and flowers. They can show some adaptations for predatory behaviours in which case they can become opportunistic omnivores.

These animals come in different colours such as black, ash white top with yellow beneath. They are known to possess bushy black tails.

How To Differentiate Between Rats And Possums

All the signs and damages mentioned previously can be caused by either possums or rats and these may not be enough to tell the difference between them. Despite this, there are few characteristic differences in the damages caused by these animals and they are what rat control and possum control experts use sometimes to identify the kind of animal pests that have infested a house.

The urine stains possums leave behind

Possums normally sleep in one place, which can cause a hole through plasterboard. These rodents are known to excrete a significant amount of urine capable of staining a huge area of your ceiling. With some experience, the distinctive smell that comes as a result of this may be easily recognized.

On the other hand, rats move around all the time unless they are nesting. You will find rat droppings scattered everywhere on a roof but possum droppings are usually in small clusters around the spots they sleep.

The difference in weight between rats and possums

Possums weigh at least 4 kilograms. The huge weight is the reason possums make significant sounds when they move around especially at night and at the break of dawn each morning as they go back to their hideouts.

Rats make noises which may occur when they are excited, or leaping from one spot to another within the roof space. You may even hear loud thuds at times as the rats land on the ceiling and scamper around. The disturbance is louder in roof spaces that do not have insulation.

Their response to the presence of people

Another way you may differentiate between these two animals is how they respond to the presence of the homeowner or humans. Rats are secretive and will make noise when there is quietness in the house but as soon as there is a sound from the homeowner, rats will stop for a while before they go back to making noise. However, possums will resume chewing or making their noise only a few minutes after hearing of the presence of the homeowner.

You can use the apple test

If you are bothered and would want to know whether what you have in your home are rats or possums, there is a small test you can conduct. It is called the “Apple Test” and it involves placing an apple somewhere in your ceiling where you have confirmed these animals visit.

If by morning, it is gone or most of it has been consumed, the probable visitors you have in your home are possums. If, however, the apple is only gnawed at and there are tell-tale signs of lots of teeth marks, what you have are rats or mice.

You can use thermal imaging to differentiate

A professional approach towards differentiating between these animals may be carried out through thermal imaging. It is not expected that a typical homeowner will have access to this technology but since it can be very effective, it is worth a try. It is perhaps the easiest and fastest means of detecting and identifying these animals when they are present on your rooftops.

Reasons Why Baiting Is Not A Good Idea

There are different approaches people use to get rid of rats and possums. Perhaps the most common approach used is baiting due to its convenience. Possums are protected by Australia’s laws and cannot be killed but removed to another location.

Where death occurs through baiting, poisoning, or some natural means, the stench that follows if the dead animals are not removed on time can make life unbearable for the homeowner. The dead animals are usually not easy to trace when this happens and this can cause the odour to linger for a long time.

The length of time the odour lingers will depend on several factors such as the time of the year. During summer or when there is warmer weather, the offensive smell can prevail for a longer time whereas, during the winter period, the roof does not heat up as much as you would expect during summer. The odour of a dead possum can linger around in a roof for six to eight weeks while that of a rat takes up to four weeks.

How To Get Rid Of Roof Rats And Possums

Once rats and possums make their way into the roof space of your house, it may not be an easy task to chase out these unwelcome visitors unless you consult with residential pest control specialists.

There are basic steps that are involved in the exercise of forcing these rodents out of your house roof including confirming their presence through signs of roof infestation, conducting an inspection on attics and roofs, and the execution of a removal plan.

Do not leave your pet’s food outside

You may have realized already that when your pet does not eat its meal in one, it is a sure invitation for rats and possums to come. These animals will come around to steal the meal so you have to do everything possible to prevent this from happening. One sure step you may take is to store the leftover food in a covered container, and bring it inside the house with you.

Block all entry points

Leaving entryways free only makes roof infestation by rats and possums easier. You can make it harder for these rodents to gain access to your house and roof by sealing up all access points. This eventually discourages these animals and makes them look elsewhere.

Trim branches that are close to your roof

Rodents will look for any means to gain access to your house roof and one of the ways they may do this could be from branches leaning close to the roof of your house.

You should consider trimming or removing completely tree limbs that have stretched within 8-10 feet of the roof. This is to prevent these rodents from accessing the roof of your home from these branches.

Dispose of your garbage properly

Leaving food leftovers and waste lying around will keep the rats and possums coming back. All these need to end in the trash can. It is also important to ensure that you use tight-fitting lids to cover up the trash cans otherwise, the rodents will come in and get close to your home which is something you want to avoid.

Keep the outside of your home clean

You should make sure to keep the bushes and shrubs outside of your home close to the ground. When you do this, it will not be possible for anything to hide underneath it. If you need firewood for your fireplace for example, you should stack them at least a foot off the ground and never allow any form of bush piles in your yard. The reason is, they are the perfect breeding grounds for rodents.

Keep the garage and shed tidy

If you have a garden, you don’t want to leave plant seeds and fertilizers in the open. These should be stored in containers and properly sealed because they can serve as viable food sources for rats and possums. You should keep the firewood out of your shed or garage because this is a potential nesting site for rodents.

Get a specialist to come for inspection

If you believe there are rats or possums in your home or you have seen them as they scurry along, invite pest controllers to come to your aid. These are the people who will check for signs of the presence of these rodents and they are better equipped to know the best approach to use to get rid of them.

Contact A Licensed Pest Control Specialist

Rats and possums can cause damage and also spread diseases within a home. This is why you cannot sit back and watch as these animals take over the your roof. The first few steps to take are all those already highlighted above. These will ensure that these pests do not turn your home into their breeding place.

If you have tried everything and still require possum and rat help, the next best thing you can do is to call on experts such as Pest Aid to help you out in both Adelaide and Gold Coast. A licensed pest controller can save you from extensive damage which could mean loss of money that can be caused by possums, rats, and mice.

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