full-house turnout in south Tempe
welcomed Barry Paceley, best known as
the Roof Rat Guy. More than 150 people
packed the room to hear tips on ridding
their yards of the nasty varmints that
have been moving into the area’s finely
manicured neighborhoods in increasing
Paceley’s informative, hour-long
presentation was punctuated with
testimonials from local residents
genuinely disturbed by recent
discoveries in their own back yards.
Warner Ranch resident Joel Klein showed
the audience a photo of an 18-inch roof
rat he found dead in his swimming pool
just days earlier.
Another resident, from a local gated
community, reported he and his dog
killed five of the seasonal invaders
during the last few weeks. At least a
dozen homeowners described their
successful—and, in some cases,
unsuccessful—battles with the unwelcome
creatures of the night that have
infiltrated the south end of town.
Paceley, a full time building
contractor, also heads the Neighbor to
Neighbor Campaign (www.roofrat.net),
formed as a coalition to help control
and eliminate roof rats in Phoenix’s
upscale Arcadia area.
As a result of trial-and-error methods
he and his neighbors employed to combat
their own roof rat problems, Paceley
said residents there now have a proven
strategy for eradicating the rodents.
First, he suggests home-proofing and
Secondly, advised Paceley, deploy traps
with the right bait, keeping the safety
of pets and children in mind.
Finally, talk to immediate neighbors and
share the pro-active measures you’ve
Paceley insists that if neighbors don’t
know there’s a problem or fail to take
action, the rat problem will never go
away, and likely get worse.
One of the challenges Paceley cites is
the prolific pace at which rats breed.
Pointing to a graph on the screen of his
PowerPoint presentation, Paceley
illustrated how a single female rat
produces a litter in three weeks, goes
into heat within 48 hours after giving
birth and can conceive again. Her female
pups are able to conceive in three
Ultimately, one adult female rat is
capable of giving rise to 400 rats
within a year.
“Rats have overwhelmed neighborhoods in
Ahwatukee and McCormick Ranch,” said
Paceley, who explained that the growing
problem is due in part to a mindset of
denial among residents and their
unjustified fear that dissemination of
information to eradicate the rat problem
will negatively affect home values.
However, in Arcadia, the aggressive
pursuit of the rat problem in 2001 had
the opposite effect, claimed Paceley.
People cleaned up their yards, removed
overgrown vegetation, trimmed their
trees and drove off the rats.
Paceley said the Arcadia neighborhood
has never looked better, and market
values continue to rise. Had they not
been successful, he said, a
larger-than-usual number of “For Sale”
signs no doubt would have sprouted on
According to Paceley, rat infestation is
at an early stage in south Tempe, and
with a little diligence and the right
tools, the rats can be eliminated, he
At the meeting, held at Arizona
Community Church, Paceley demonstrated a
variety of homemade and retail devices
including traditional snap traps and his
own invention: a Personal Use Bait
Station with recommended poison,
currently available for $5.
Paceley also described what he termed
“the ultimate in rat termination
technology,” a so-called Rat Zapper 2000
available online for about $40 at
zapper.com or at Paul’s Hardware in
For those who opt for do-it-yourself
traps, Paceley provided practical tips
to help avoid the pitfalls of such
For example, he said, using a classic
snap trap with peanut butter as bait can
result in killing birds instead of or in
addition to rats.
Paceley suggests enclosing the typical
snap trap in a shoe box with a hole at
one end or using a Persnal Use Bait
Station, also an enclosed tube, to
discourage birds from entering. Plus, he
adds, enclosing a trap is even more
important if using effective poisons
such as Just One Bite, which is
available at home improvement, hardware
and feed stores. Enclosed traps prevent
pets from eating the poison.
There are advantages and disadvantages
with each method of extermination. For
example after a rat eats poison it
wanders away and dies somewhere not of
your choosing. On the other hand, if you
use a snap trap or the RAT ZAPPER 2000
you have a rat in hand instead of two in
From a humane point of view RAT ZAPPER
2000 offers death by electrocution.
Aside from being clean, quick and
efficient it also alerts homeowners of
the capture with a blinking red light.
However, at $39.99 the ZAPPER is also 10
times as expensive as traditional snap
traps which do the same job.
Reduce food, shelter
Eliminating the food source and access
into the home, says Paceley, is just as
important as killing the rats. Promptly
removing seasonal fruit is critical.
Yet, Paceley says, contrary to popular
belief, citrus is not the culprit.
“Actually, citrus has become the
victim,” he explains. “A lot people will
want to cut their citrus trees down
while oleanders are a bigger factor with
roof rats than citrus by far. In the
summer time they seek harborage inside
the base of the oleanders which provide
cool shade and cover, mulch for bedding,
and worms and grubs to eat.”
Paceley says roof rats maintain two
homes: one in your attic during the
winter, and one at the base of oleanders
during the summer.
To keep rats out of the attic he
recommends trees and bushes be trimmed
back 24 inches from the roof’s edge.
Screens should be placed over dryer
vents, and pet doors secured at night.
“Roof rats spend 90 percent of their
lives four feet above the ground or
higher,” explains Paceley.
Since rats hide up in trees and shrubs,
and only come out at night, they may
seem invisible. But Paceley says
indications of their presence include:
hollowed out citrus; long, cylindrical
droppings; smudge marks at openings near
eaves or vents; scratching noises in the
attic; or pet excitement.
Paceley is not paid by anyone or any
entity for his community presentations;
nor is he paid as director of his
Arcadia NEIGHBOR to NEIGHBOR campaign.
He volunteers his time each week for
what he believes is a good cause.
As a witness to his sincerity and
enthusiasm one can’t help but see him as
a modern day Pied Piper, willing to show
anyone who will listen how to lead the
rats out of the city.