With the colder winter weather, exterminators in Hampton Roads are reporting an increase in the number of Roof rats in residential homes.
Charlie Church, owner of Getem services, says Norway rats used to be the dominant species in the area, but in the past six years Roof rats have moved in.
"They’re more agile. They’re more aggressive when it comes to the numbers and they are pushing (Norway rats) out," Church said.
According to Church, the Roof rats have made their way up the coast from Florida and during the winter months they're driven inside to the warmth of homes in Hampton Roads.
"In warmer climates they aren’t as bad in the houses, but when it gets cold here in the winter, if your house has a hole, it sends out a heat signature," Church explained. "These guys will see that coming out of your house and they’ll make a way into that hole."
It doesn't take much for rats to get inside, even the tiniest of holes can be a gateway inside.
"Their bodies really really long. Their bones are really thin and somewhat flexible," explained Hampton University Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Nicholas Kenney. "So these animals are capable of crawling into small spaces and utilizing that to their advantage."
The rats are more than just a nuisance - they can also carry disease and ruin wiring inside homes.
Church says the best way to prevent rats is to seal any holes in a house and to remove food sources such as bird feeders from yards.