Of all the rodent species that infest both residential areas and commercial areas, the Norway rat is the largest. They are not only the largest, but in temperate regions, they are the most common species of rodent. Norway rats cause severe structural damages to walls, cables, appliances, and etc. because of their gnawing habits. Moreover, these species of rats eats stored food and contaminates it. Because they are vectors of dangerous disease pathogens, it is crucial to prevent them from becoming a major health threat in your home. Although Norway rats are said to be of Asian nativity, they are found worldwide, including the United States.
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The length of the Norway rat from head to the end of their body is about 7 to 9.5 inches long. This is not including its tail that is 6 to 8 inches alone. The tail is usually lighter in color towards the end. They can weigh anywhere from 7 to 18 ounces but in favorable conditions where there is an adequate food source, they can weigh all the way up to 20 ounces. Norway rats have coarse, brown fur and their bellies are gray to a yellowish white color. Like most other rodent species, Norway rats have small eyes and their ears protrude out. However, the ears of Norway rats are small and are covered with short hairs. Also, unlike roof rats that have a pointed muzzle, the muzzles of Norway rats are blunt and fairly short. They are robust animals and seem more heavy-bodied than some other species of rodents that are more slender in shape.
Many homeowners confuse the Norway rat with the Roof rat. Although they are similar in shape and size, there are minute physical characteristics that will differentiate the two species.
Rats have extremely poor vision and they are also color blind. However, in order to make up for their poor eyesight, they have developed keen senses of smell, touch, taste, and hearing. They have also developed a habit of using their long whiskers to “touch” the materials in the surrounding environment. Norway rats are known to have shy habits. Even though they do explore their surroundings, they are extremely cautious of and will avoid new objects and changes.
Norway rats are nocturnal animals and will be the most active during the late nights. They will forage for food during the night as well as other daily routines. Norway rats can travel up to 100 to 150 feet from their nesting or harborage site. Norway rats have extremely powerful teeth and will gnaw through anything to obtain their food. They are known to gnaw through even plastic and lead pipes and walls. Once they are established in one area, they will continue to travel along the same paths between their breeding site and their food or water source.
Rats not only wreak havoc by damaging the structure and gnawing through materials, but they are dangerous vectors of disease pathogens. They are even a part of history when they were thought to have caused the Bubonic plague. Although it is now known that it was fleas that was first known to spread the Bubonic plague, rats are also vectors of plague and have aided in spreading the disease. Fortunately, the plague has not been found in Norway rats in the United States, however, they remain vectors of disease pathogens including the Murine Typhus, rat-bite fever, Salmonellosis or food poisoning, and etc.
There are several methods that are involved in controlling Norway rats which include identification or inspection, sanitation, elimination, and exclusion. It is important that preventative measures like sanitation takes place. Getting rid of adequate food sources like putting away dog food, cleaning stove tops of grease, and etc. might discourage infestations. Also, practicing exclusion by filling cracks and crevices with a metal cloth like copper mesh as well as checking the perimeter of the structure for any entry points will also help to keep rat out of the house. Snap traps, glue traps and rodenticides in bait stations can be placed directly on their paths of travel. Although getting rid of Norway rats will use standard rodent control elimination methods, when eliminating Norway rats in the house or in commercial areas, there are several important things to consider before placing any traps or baits.