brown rats on a stack of books

Get to Know the Norway Rat

Norway RatThis time of year rodents like rats are looking at your home with envy. They want to get inside where it’s nice and warm and there is plenty of food. Outside it’s cooler and sometimes it rains during this time of year, which is no fun for anyone, even rats.

We all know that rats bring a whole host of problems if they do get inside. However, the key to finding the right treatment solutions for any rats you find is in identifying the type of rat. Not all of them act the same, behave the same way or do the same things.

So, we are taking the time to provide information about one particular type of rat that you might see inside your home – the Norway Rat.

What is a Norway Rat?

The first thing to know is that, despite the name, the Norway Rat is not actually from Norway. It is thought that the name came from a man named John Berkenhout, a British naturalist, who jumped to the conclusion that the brownish rats had migrated to the UK from Norway. In fact, it is thought by modern scientists that this species of rat actually originated in China. They appeared in the British Isles most likely transported via ships and goods.

Once they got to the UK, however, they quickly reproduced and set up shop there. That’s why they are also known as the common rat, the street rat, the sewer rat or the brown rat.

What Does a Norway Rat look like?

Norway rats are usually brown or gray, covered with coarse fur. Their bellies are normally whitish in color.

The thing that sets the Norway rat apart from the others is its size. They can range in size from 8 inches to 10 inches just in body length. If you throw in the length of the tail then you add another 7 to 10 inches, since the tail is normally about the same size as body length.

The Norway rat is quite heavy for a rodent. In general their average body weight comes in around 12 ounces for the males and 9 ounces for the females. There have even been reports of very large Norway rats that have come in at a whopping 32-35 ounces!

Great hearing and sense of smell

Norway rats are know for their great hearing. They can even hear things in the ultrasound range, beyond what humans can hear. They also have great noses, which really help them get around buildings and rooms. They have to rely on those senses because their vision is terrible, although they are known to perceive color more like a human does.

They like it underground

Norway rats like to burrow. They’ll take virtually any place where they can dig down and set up a nest. That means dirt, leaves, piles of garbage, beneath the concrete, railroad embankments. If you have piles of things around your home and have found a rat, there’s a good chance the rat is hiding in one of those piles.

They love food!

Norway rats will eat just about anything. If they get inside, they’ll will seek out your kitchen cabinets and cupboards. In particular the rats are seeking meat and even fish, but they will dine happily on dry dog food, too. When they find the food they will eat and eat, gorging themselves on what they find and if they smell food, they’ll gnaw through plastic, lead pipes, wood, anything.

The Bad News

The problem with rats and other rodents is the damage that they do. Not only will they chew right through lead pipes, but they bring with them a host of health issues.

Rats are known to carry a wide variety of diseases ranging from Salmonella to Bubonic Plague and Hantavirus. They also carry parasites like fleas, ticks and mites. Their urine and feces can carry diseases, as well.

The Solution

The best thing you can do is make sure that debris like piles of garbage, leaves, wood, boxes, etc., are removed or set far enough away from the home that they will not serve as an entry point for Norway rats to get in. Remove vegetation like bushes, trees, tall grass from near your home, as well.

Make sure that holes, cracks and crevices are sealed up. Don’t think that a hole might be too small, either, given the size of Norway rats. These guys can squeeze into a hole 1/2 inch in diameter. Make sure that the garage doors and any door leading outside has sweeps that are whole and not damaged.

Finally, if it seems that rats have gotten in and you are dealing with an infestation, don’t waste another minute. Call in the professionals who have been battling it out with rats for decades – the experts at Western Exterminator.


Mr. Little

He’s represented Western for nearly a century. But he’s no old fogey. Follow Mr. Little’s blog for pest tips and facts!

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