All About Rodents: The Norway Rat

norway ratThe Norway rat, Rattus norvegicus, also known as a street rat, brown rat, or sewer rat, is one of the most common and well-known species of rat. Although Norway rats were originally from China, today they can be found in nearly every part of the world and are most commonly found in urban areas. The name Norway rat is still in use today, although it has been known since the 20th century that their origin country is not Norway. They live wherever there is any type of food and shelter, from crowded city buildings and subways to fields of corn and grain.

Identifying a Norway Rat

The fur of the Norway rat is usually dark grey or brown on the backside and light grey or brown on the underside. They can grow up to ten inches, excluding the tail, which is shorter than the length of its head and body. The tail is hairless and pink or brown in color. Males are always larger than females. An adult Norway rat can weigh anywhere from 14–17 ounces.

Norway Rat Behavior and Diet

These nocturnal rodents tend to remain in their nests during the day. Typically, the Norway rat nests in underground burrows and from there go into buildings in search of food. The Norway rat is an excellent swimmer. It’s climbing abilities are not as good as those of the roof rat, but Norway rats have been observed climbing metal poles several feet above the ground in order to reach bird feeders. The Norway rat digs well and is able to enter your home through very small holes. It feeds on a variety of food sources, such as meat, grains, nuts, and fruits. It is also capable of catching small fish and other rodents, and will sometimes even feast on dead animals. Water is necessary to its diet, so it will usually build its nests close to a water source.

Norway Rat Reproduction

If there is enough food and water, the Norway rat is capable of breeding throughout the year, although births happen only during spring and autumn. A female can have one to twelve litters during the year, with around seven young rats each. Sexual maturity is reached at the age of three months. The average lifespan of a Norway rat in the wild is around two years.

Signs of a Norway Rat Infestation

Sightings during the day can mean there is an infestation going on. One of the most well-known signs is Norway rat droppings, which are ¼ to ½ inch in length and rounded. Also, small grease stains will appear as a result of the rats are running along a wall’s edge and can also be an indicator of an infestation. If you’re dealing with a Norway rat infestation, professional pest control is the only real solution.

Norway Rat Control and Prevention

Norway rats are known as the transmitters of the bubonic plague. Since they can be quite dangerous, it is important to prevent them from entering your home by sealing all the holes and crevices, as they can fit into a hole that is only half an inch large. Usually, a Norway rat is attracted to people’s homes during their search for necessities like water, food, and shelter. To keep them away, minimize available food sources by putting a secure lid on your garbage can, and never let bird seeds laying around the feeders. Also, consider fixing all plumbing leaks and remove outdoor containers with water.

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