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Norway Rat

Danger/Damage

Rats are known to be a source of numerous diseases affecting humans, such as plague and murine typhus through the contamination of food.

They can also cause extensive damage to proprieties and equipment by gnawing through wood, electrical wires, and even unfinished concrete.


Did you know?

Norway rats live where food and water are available. They are known to be a source of numerous diseases affecting humans, such as plague and murine typhus through the contamination of food. Norway rats can also cause extensive damage to proprieties and equipment within.


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The Norway rat has a stocky body weighing 200 to 500 grams. Males are generally large than females. There fur is coarse, shaggy, brown with scattered black hairs and a grey to yellowish white underbelly. Their nose is blunt and they have a scaly tail that is shorter than the head and body combined.


Norway rats are primarily nocturnal and they are very cautious about their surroundings. Generally, the Norway rat is a ground-dwelling animal and often lives outdoors however they will also nest and spend their entire life inside urban buildings. Norway rats nest in any safe location where food and water are available. Outside, they prefer to burrow in the soil along railways, streams and rivers, garbage piles, under concrete slabs, along foundations of buildings, etc. Inside, they are typically found in basements and lower parts of the building but they may also be found in attics and other high places.

Rats do require fresh water (15ml to 30ml per day) and cannot live long without it. They also require 25-30 grams (1 ounce) of food per day. Rats living outside will travel into buildings in search of food and water. An opening of greater than 12mm (1/2 inch) is all that is required for these rats to gain entry into a building. Rats are excellent climbers and swimmers. In fact, there physical capabilities are among the most impressive of all small mammals. They can travel through sewer lines and even tread water for 3 days! They can also drop from heights of 50 feet without injury!


Norway rats have 3-6 litters per year, and each litter will contain 7-8 young. Young Norway rats mature two to three months after birth and have a gestation period of 22 days.

Norway rats live an average of one year.


  1. The Norway rat commonly referred to as the street or sewer rat is believed to be of Asian origin, arriving in the U.S. on ships from other countries in the 1700s.
  2. Norway rats have poor vision. Despite this, their other senses, including hearing, smell, touch, and taste are strong.
  3. Dog food is a favorite menu item for Norway rats.
  4. Norway rats are foragers and can survive on a huge range of foods. One study of a rat's stomach contents revealed over 4,000 different items.
  5. Norway rats are able to move each whisker individually. Rats use their whiskers much in the same way humans use their hands to feel and sense.

Do Norway rats cause damage and are they hazardous to humans?

Norway rats are known to be a source of numerous diseases affecting humans, such as plague and murine typhus through the contamination of food and exposure to droppings.

Norway rats can also cause extensive damage to buildings and equipment in houses, granaries, restaurants and other areas they inhabit, by gnawing through wood, electrical wires, and even unfinished concrete.

Where are Norway rats most common?

Norway rats are "commensal" meaning they are generally found to be living in close association with humans. Rats are often very dependent of human habitat for food, water and shelter. Norway rats are a pest that is active year-round.

When am I most likely to see Norway rats?

Norway rats are nocturnal mammals; most active at night. However, if food and water are scarce, or in the case of large infestations, rats become active during the day.

Where do Norway rats build their nests?

Norway rats nest in any safe location where food and water are available. Outside, they prefer to burrow in the soil along railways, streams and rivers, garbage piles, under concrete slabs, along foundations of buildings, etc. Inside, they are typically found in basements and lower parts of the building but they may also be found in attics and other high places.

What are the breeding habits of the Norway rat?

Norway rats have 3-6 litters per year, and each litter will contain 7-8 young. Young Norway rats mature two to three months after birth and have a gestation period of 22 days.

How can I tell if I have an infestation of Norway rats?

Norway rat droppings are a common indicator of the presence of the rodent, as well as gnaw marks, tracks, burrows, and greasy markings on walls.

What can I do to prevent an infestation of Norway rats?

To control or prevent infestation of Norway rats, sealing up potential rat entry points, removal of food sources, rubbish and other potential nesting areas are essential.


 
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