What is a Roof Rat? How are they different from Norway rats?

A Roof Rat, official name Rattus Rattus, is the native rat species in warmer, coastal parts of the USA.  Norway Rats (Rattus Norvegicus, also called Sewer Rats or Fancy Rats) are the native rat species in the other parts of the USA.  If you see a wild rat here in Florida, or discover an abandoned litter, chances are they are Roof rats.  Dumbo Rats are Norway Rats with funny ears.

Roof rats share a common ancestor with Norway rats, and there are many similarities in their behaviour and appearance.  However, Roof rats have some distinguishing characteristics:

  1. They are smaller than Norway rats, more petite, longer tail, larger eyes and ears, and a more pointed nose.  They have subtle markings and different shades, but right now they are all basically agouti. update: we now have black and pale gray Roof Rats!  They are also all top eared.
  2. Roof Rats are more playful, gentler and less aggressive than Norway rats, so they are a better choice for people who are fearful of rats.  We prefer to breed and own Roof Rats.  We’ve found that once people own a pet Roof Rat, most prefer them over Norway Rats.
  3. To promote Roof Rats as pets, adoptions and no obligation are 100% free of charge.
  4. Young Roof Rats are more active and athletic for their size.  They are better at climbing and jumping, and than Norway Rats of the same age.
  5. Adult Roof Rats mellow out and get lazy.  The activity level of both male and female Roof Rats is similar to that of an adult female Norway Rat.
  6. They are generally healthier and longer lived than Norway rats.  They are less prone to tumors and obesity.  Unlike male Norway Rats, male Roof Rats do not become excessively fat and lazy with age.
  7. They are probably more intelligent than Norway rats.  They can be taught tricks, like coming when called, if you can properly motivate them.  Nuts seem to work as will social interaction once your rat has bonded with you. We easily taught Roofy tricks that felt like fun and games for her.
  8. Roof Rats are so smart that they can learn to do tricks all on their own!  They love playing in water, and some learn how to push the little ball up in their water bottle so they can enjoy a shower!  They let the water run down their bodies, and scrub themselves clean like a tiny person!
  9. Wild Roof Rats are shy and skittish but not aggressive like Wild Norway rats.  Our domesticated, pet quality Roof Rats enjoy human contact, and are very gentle and friendly.
  10. All of our Roof Rats are descended from Roofy our amazingly tame Roof Rat.  She had a tameness mutation which was passed on to many of her offspring, which we selected and bred.  These rats also have noticeable white markings on their face and even white tipped tails!
  11. Roof Rats were challenging to breed in captivity, until we learned their specific behaviours.  For example, they exhibit some interesting tail wiggling mating behaviour which appears to be different than Norway rats.
  12. Although they are different species, Roof Rats and Norway Rats can play together.  Their behaviors are similar, but notice that the Roof Rats spend more time climbing on and interacting with Qiong in the video?  This is because Roof Rats are more playful and vertically orientated than Norway Rats.  And they tend to be more attached to their owners.
  13. We feed our Roof rats basically the same food as Norway rats.  They are skinnier and more active, so we continue to give them Teklad 2018 as adults.  We also supplement their diet with nuts, seeds and bits of fruit.
  14. Roof Rats look similar to Norway Rats, but they are not the same species.  Their energy level can be higher when they are young and they can be more timid until they know you.  You are welcome to visit and play with our baby and adult Roof Rats, and we will answer questions about their personalities and care.

You are invited to take our online training course: Rat Care and Ownership. This course contains accumulated knowledge and advice drawn from our many years of experience and research about Roof Rats. There is simply nothing else like it available on the Internet! It’s free for a limited time only.

Our complete collection of Roof Rat Youtube videos.  Watch us feeding them by hand, playing with them, showing them mating, exercising and other behaviours.