Norway rats are often known as common street rats. These rats have lived alongside humans for hundreds of years; during the colonial era, they traveled on ships and spread across the world. Norway rats like to gnaw on wooden structures and can cause serious property damage. Learn more about Norway rats and how you can keep them away from your home.

A Norway rat has brown hair with black bristles. These rats are usually seven to nine inches across and have relatively short tails and small ears. Their underbelly may be lighter than the rest of their fur with shades of gray or tan.

Norway rats have small eyes and usually have bad vision. Instead, they rely on their senses of hearing and smell to get around. These rats are nimble and fast; expect to see them running, jumping, swimming, and climbing to get around.

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You will likely notice the signs of an infestation before you see a Norway rat. Look for chew marks near floorboards, walls, and shelves. Food packaging may have been chewed open or otherwise damaged. Norway rats like to gnaw holes to pass through; older holes will be smooth and worn-down from frequent use, but recent ones will look like they were freshly gnawed.

Norway rats are greasy. Look for footprints and grease marks along their potential walking paths. Their fur can leave a residue when it rubs against walls. They will also leave capsule-shaped droppings with blunt ends. Finally, you may find a food store or a burrow.

Norway rats can be extremely difficult to remove once they have moved in. These creatures reproduce quickly and like to burrow into home structures. Some Norway rats give birth to as many a six litters in a year; two rats will quickly become an entire colony. Homeowners should take active and conscious steps to prevent a potential infestation.

Norway rats need wood to make nests, food to eat, and moisture to drink. Keeping them away from these resources will prevent them from starting a nest. Large firewood piles make ideal nesting locations. Store stacks of firewood off the ground and away from your home. Clean up any small piles of sticks or debris so that Norway rats cannot use them to make a nest.

Make sure all food stores are safely sealed away. Consider lining basements or pantries with concrete to prevent entry. If food is contaminated by rats, throw it out as it can spread disease. Keep garbage and compost bins properly sealed in lidded containers. Empty these containers regularly to keep all pests away. Norway rats also need water to drink. Leaky pipes and damp basements can provide this source of water. Make sure your plumbing is in good condition and fix leaks promptly.

Finally, seal up any small holes or areas that could hold a nest. Check on crawl spaces and other neglected storage areas consistently to make sure that you do not have an infestation.

Norway rat infestations are almost impossible for homeowners to remove on their own. Instead, contact a pest control professional. A licensed professional will be able to safely remove your infestation and help you develop preventative measures for the future.

Norway rats almost always live in groups of small burrows. If you have found one burrow, there is a good chance you will find other burrows in the same area. Every Norway rat burrow has both an entrance and a hidden exit hole. The exit hole may be covered in debris or hidden under a structure.

Norway rats like to live outside in fields. They also tend to burrow under structures. You can find them in garbage piles, near river banks, and under slabs or planks. If the area is shady and secure, Norway rats may consider creating a burrow.

Unfortunately, Norway rats also like to enter homes. This usually happens as winter approaches and the rats run low on food and water. A Norway rat can fit through incredibly small holes and tight spaces. They tend to nest in the lower levels of the house, including basements, crawl spaces, sewers, and undisturbed ground floor areas. They may also nest in the attic or rafters, although this is significantly less common.

Norway rats are active at night and usually start foraging at dusk. These rats don't usually eat food at the source; instead, they carry it to a safe location like their burrow. Feeding occurs several times throughout the day. Norway rats prefer meats, grains, and dog food. That said, they can and will eat almost anything.

These rats are extremely survival-focused. They will gnaw through anything, including plastic and metal, to get to food or water sources. Norway rats will develop strong likes and dislikes; they will avoid unfavorable food sources and return to locations where they have had consistent success.

Norway rats like to follow the same path repeatedly. This route extends anywhere from 25 to 150 feet from their burrow to the food source and can often be traced. Rats will not travel as far in urban areas as they will in rural settings.

Norway rats will chew through anything and contaminate any food they come into contact with. A small population of rats can cause extreme property damage. They can carry serious diseases and may even introduce fleas into an environment. Because they pose such a threat, Norway rats should be responded to right away. If you suspect a Norway rat infestation, contact your pest control professional immediately.