The cooler weather in Phoenix apparently brings out more than lovely dinners on the patio and great daytime hikes with the dog – it also means the Return of Roof Rats!
My recycling can lives on the west side of my house and I usually get to it by going out the front door. A lot of the times, the dog comes with. She moseys to the neighbors, going as far as two or three house. I yell for her, show her a treat and she willingly comes back into our house. One morning, earlier this week, I took out the recycling, she went moseying and I went into the house to get her lure-back treat. I opened the front door and she was already on the porch.
And in her mouth was a dead rodent-looking thing. I screamed and slammed the door in her face. I’m sure she was thinking “Lady, what the hell, I brought you a gift.’’
I collected myself, opened the door and apologized to the dog. I then gave her perfectly hygienic dental treat. Using about three layers of poop bags, I grabbed the rodent by its long, dead tail and disposed of him in the garbage in the alley.
All day, I told myself that she brought a mouse onto the porch. A ridiculously large mouse but a mouse nonetheless. But then I remembered the long, hard tail and did enough Googling to realize it was a roof rat. They were living in our neighborhood two years ago and now it looks like they are returning. (Roof rats, fertilizer smell, coyotes – contrary to what my blogs say, I do live in a great neighborhood!)
Not alone –Roof Rat City
Turns out our little central Phoenix neighborhood isn’t the only one facing down roof rats. In 2017, Phoenix was named 12th Roof-rattiest city in the country in a study done by Terminix.
Roof rats aren’t native to metro Phoenix; they were first discovered in the Valley in the Arcadia area in 2002. Most likely, they were inadvertently brought here from a neighboring state. Apparently, they like to hitch a ride and have been known to travel cross country on commercial trucks. Yech.
They also like to climb. They’ll move along power lines and can climb up brick and stucco. When they reach their destination, they can enter homes through any nickel-sized opening. And true to their name, they like hanging out in attics.
Roof rats can move 200-300 feet at night and are most active in the cooler months of the year, according to the City of Tempe.
Roof rats and your dog
What does the Return of the Roof Rat mean for your dog?
Chances are the rats will try to avoid your pooch as much as possible. (which is a good thing since rats carry around a lot of diseases, some that can be harmful to your dog). In fact, the dog may figure out the rats have re-located to your house before you do. Your dog’s sense of smell and hearing are far keener than yours. If she starts fixating on a spot or making a lot of trips into a room she never spends much time in, something could be up.
And it’s ironic that while rats will try to avoid your dog, the rats do think of your dog as a food source – anything from dog food that is left out to the dog poop that hasn’t been picked up in the yard. Yech, yeech.
And now, if you will pardon me, I’m calling an exterminator!