Norway rats are color-blind, but aside from their vision, their senses are keen (touch with long whiskers). They are nocturnal and can run, climb, jump, swim, and love to explore.
|Color||Brownish and scattered black in color, but have a whitish gray underbelly.|
|Size||Rats are typically between 7-9.5" long from snout to the end of the tail. Generally, the rodents weigh between 7-18 ounces.|
|Appearance||While their bodies are covered in shaggy fur, their ears and tail are covered in scales. The elongated tail is often the most recognizable characteristic of rats. The appendage drags behind the rodent and, in many cases, is equal to the length of the body.|
Norway rats will eat nearly any type of food, but if given a choice, they select fresh food over stale or contaminated foods. They prefer cereal grains, meats and fish, nuts, and fruit. Food items in household garbage offer a balanced diet and also satisfy their moisture needs. When food sources become scarce, Norway rats may resort to cannibalism and prey on younger, weaker rats. In general, the rodents are opportunistic and feed on anything discovered while foraging.
Habitat & Burrows
Norway rats prefer to live in underground tunnels or burrows. Inside, they are often found in crawl spaces, basements, attics or ceiling areas. Burrows of new, establishing rat populations are between 12-20 inches long. As the population grows, the burrows are enlarged and connect with other burrows to form a network of underground tunnels. Ground burrows usually have one central opening used for an entrance or exit and a couple of holes used for escaping. As the rat population increases and if food or water sources are limited, fighting will begin to defend territories. Dominate rats feed at night and are mostly nocturnal. The rats lower in rank are forced to reside in a section of the burrow further from food or water sources. They will feed and be active when the dominant rats are not active. Seeing rats active during the day time often indicates a large population.
Norway rat droppings measure 3/4" in length and 1/4" in diameter. They are rectangular in shape and have blunt ends.
The rodents reach sexual maturity at two to three months of age. Pregnancy takes three weeks, with three to six litters per year and 6 to 12 young in a litter. Consistent with all other types of mammals, rats give birth to live young. Newborns grow hair after one week, open eyes in two weeks, and are weaned at three to four weeks. In the wild, rats live six months to a year on average due to hostile conditions and predation. In captivity or controlled lab environments, the rodents may live as long as three years.
Damage & Health Risks
By foraging persistently and gnawing on objects repeatedly, rats cause damage to food, crops, and structures. Furthermore, the rodents engage in burrowing activities, which may lead to damage to gardens and landscaping.
Rats create potentially severe problems on many levels. One of the notable problems is the spread of infections through rat bites and carried fleas.
Historically, the pests inspired horror and were largely responsible for spreading the bubonic plague in the 1300s. Also called the Black Death, the plague wiped out vast numbers of the world population. Though rats do not facilitate the same level of devastation today, the pests regularly carry pathogens for other harmful diseases.
Signs of Infestation
Presence of rat droppings, appearing similar to raisins.
Noticeably worn pathways from continued use by the rodents.
Rats make noticeable burrows in garden areas, especially near damaged vegetable crops.
Visible sightings of the pests.
Chew marks on crops, wires, some kinds of piping and wooden objects typically signify the presence of rats, as the mammals constantly gnaw on anything available to keep their teeth from growing too long.
Prevention & Control
Staying proactive and preventing infestations in the first place often eliminates the need for further action. Homeowners and property owners may take several proactive steps to strongly reduce the possibility of a rat infestation, such as:
- Install and maintain screens for all windows, especially those at the ground level, and check regularly for damage. Replace broken windows if necessary.
- Properly insulating homes and ensuring all holes and crevices remain impenetrable by caulking around utility/service pipes, checking weather stripping around doors, and repairing cracks in the foundation.
- Keep garbage sealed to avoid attracting rats with the smell of decaying food. Wash dishes and cooking utensils, and clean spilled food from food preparation areas and floors immediately. Also, dispose of any trash and clutter.
- Rinse items to be recycled and keep recycling in tight containers.
Batzner Service Specialists are highly trained to conduct a thorough inspection to find evidence of rats. Sanitation, exclusion, and population reduction are the keys to eradicating a rat population. Using a combination of treating burrows and bait placements, a Batzner Service Specialist will decide the proper course of action to eliminate the problem and make sanitation and repair recommendations to help prevent future problems.
Regular inspections of your home by a pest control professional throughout the year is the best method to identify and prevent any issues with rats or other pests. The BAN System provides regularly scheduled preventive services every quarter.