Norway Rat: Facts, Identification & Control

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Norway Rat: Facts, Identification & Control

Appearance

Brown, heavy-bodied, six to eight inches long, with small eyes and ears and blunt nose. Tail is shorter than head and body. Its fur is shaggy. Droppings are capsule-shaped.

Habit

Nests in underground burrows, from which they enter buildings in search of food. Tends to remain in hiding during the day.

Diet

Omnivorous, but prefers meats. Cannot survive long without water.

Reproduction

Reaches sexual maturity in two months and can breed any month of the year. Litter may number from eight to twelve. Females can have four to seven litters per year. Adults live as long as one year.

Other Facts

Norway rats are prevalent throughout North America. Arriving on ships from Great Britain circa 1775, these rodents quickly spread throughout the American Midwest. By the 1800s, they were present as far as Ontario, Canada.

Today, Norway rats thrive in a variety of human habitats. While it is believed that Norway rats originally lived only within temperate forest regions, they are extremely adaptive and now thrive comfortably in densely populated cities. Outside, they can be found burrowing in the soil beneath buildings, in embankments, and near tree roots. Inside, they live in basements, crawlspaces, attics and sewers. They can be carriers of various diseases.

The Norway rat is a large rodent that may weigh in excess of 500 grams. They can reach lengths of 400 millimeters and their tails alone may measure 187 millimeters in length. The body of the Norway rat is covered in fur that is brown or gray in color. Their ears and tail are covered in scales.

Norway rats are omnivorous and feed on a variety of food sources. If given the choice, they will consume meats, fruits, grain and nuts. Dead animals also serve as a food source for these rats and they are capable of catching small fish and rodents. They require water to drink and they make their colony as close to a water source as possible. Norway rats live in communities with one dominant member.