adult norway rat

Norway Rats

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What do Norway rats look like?

Rats are mid-sized rodents with long teeth, blunt noses, and thick, visibly hairless tails. A Norway rat, Rattus norvegicus, is brownish-gray with a bulky body. It is the largest rat found throughout the United States, with a body length of 7 to 9 ½ inches and a tail that is slightly shorter than the body and head combined. These rats have a strong association with the soil and you're most likely to find one scurrying along the ground or disappearing underneath your shed or deck.   

norway rat in yard

Pest Facts

Did you know?

  • Norway rats tend to occupy lower levels of homes and structures.
  • Norway rats have fairly poor vision, but their other senses are excellent.
  • Norway rats are not from Norway, but are actually natives of Asia. 

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What do Norway rats eat?

A Norway rat has a diverse diet. It is an opportunistic feeder. In nature, it eats seeds, nuts, fruit, and bugs. When it comes onto your property, it can get into trash receptacles and feed on pet food left outside. Inside your home, they can get into your pantry and kitchen and feed on whatever they find. While they prefer robust food sources, such as meats and dry dog food, they'll also feed on bread, cereal, crackers, and other less substantial foods.

When are Norway rats most active?

You'll find a Norway rat lurking about in the darkness. It has poor eyesight but heightened hearing, smell, and touch. These factors make them adept hunters in dark environments. The darkness also provides concealment. In nature, they'll come out during the night but are active day or night inside structures if conditions permit. 

Where do Norway rats nest? 

Norway rats create burrows in the ground when nesting in natural environments. They prefer to do this underneath logs and other surface clutter. In your yard, they'll prefer to create a burrow underneath a junk pile or shed. When Norway rats get inside, they tend to nest inside wall voids but can make their way into storage rooms and attic spaces.

What are the signs of a Norway rat problem?

The most obvious sign is seeing a rat, but this rarely happens. You'll most likely see the signs these pests leave behind.

  • Blackish-brown droppings that are slightly larger than grains of rice
  • Small holes chewed in building materials, such as wood soleplates
  • Black marks on baseboards, foundation slabs, or around holes in exterior walls
  • Damage to fruit or plants
  • Footprints in the soil
  • Sounds of scratching and bumping inside walls

These signs are subtle at the onset of an issue but will grow as the population of rats grows. Inspect dark and humid spaces first, as these are the areas Norway rats frequent.  

How serious is a Norway rat infestation?

The primary issue with Norway rats is that they reproduce quickly. A couple of rats can give rise to a population of thousands in just one year. While one rat or two won't present much of an issue, you can bet that a dozen or more will. Here are some of the problems you can expect from Norway rats:

  • They damage homes by creating holes.
  • The holes they create allow other, potentially harmful, pests indoors.
  • They carry ticks and fleas, which are a disease concern.
  • They pick up germs from trash and other unsanitary environments.
  • They chew on wires inside walls and are considered a fire hazard.

It is best to deal with these pests as soon as you detect a problem—or sooner. 

How did I get Norway rats?

Norway rats need no invitation to come onto your property. They may explore your yard for no particular reason. If they've gotten into your home, you likely have a small gap or hole that a Norway rat gnawed on it until it gained entry. However, some infestations begin due to conducive conditions, such as the availability of food, water, or favorable nesting locations.

How do I get rid of Norway rats?

It is a challenge to control these rats because they are so secretive and clever. Professionals use a multi-pronged strategy to reduce rat populations, block entry, and eliminate rats already indoors. If you'd like to learn how Greenway Pest Solutions takes care of rats and other rodents, please reach out or simply request a free rodent control quote below. Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet for rodent control. It requires specialized training and experience. 

What can I do to prevent a Norway rat infestation?

To prevent a Norway rat infestation, you can remove attractants that increase the chances of an infestation and apply rat-proofing to keep these pests out, but there is no way to fully prevent a Norway rat infestation without effective rodent control. If you live in the Phoenix metro, contact Greenway Pest Solutions to learn about our rodent extermination solutions.

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