Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) are an invasive species of rodent that originated from the plains of Mongolia. They were believed to have been stow-aways during the European colonization of the Americas. The Norway rat is also officially known as the Brown rat along with many unofficial names including “Sewer rat”, “Street rat” and “New York City rat”. They are the most common rat species in the United States and can live up to 1 to 3 years mattering on environmental factors and predation. They measure approximately 12”-18” long from nose to tip of the tail and their tails are slightly shorter in length than their bodies. On average they weigh between 10oz-18oz and are the largest commensal rodents in North America.
Norway rats have an advanced sense of smell & feel, which makes up for their relatively bad eyesight. They are opportunistic feeders that actually select their food items to maintain a balanced diet. In our suburban neighborhoods, their top sources of nutrition are human food waste, unsecured or left out pet food, livestock feed and bird/squirrel feeder remnants. Unlike mice, Norway rats require a daily water source to survive. Common sources include standing water on your property like rain/lawn irrigation puddles, pet bowls, bird baths, leaking or condensating pipes/appliances and foods high in water content like fruits & vegetables.
Other than food and water, rats need one other item to thrive and that is shelter. Shelter can be had in many forms including horse paddocks, chicken coups, barns, sheds and even more likely any place where humans provide artificial climate control including garages, commercial buildings and homes. If rats are frequenting anywhere on your property for food, water or nesting materials, it is inevitable that they will find and attempt to exploit openings, gaps or other structural weaknesses of your home or business.
The term rodent derives from the Latin word rodere, which means “to gnaw”. Rats chew or gnaw on objects daily to wear down their teeth which continue to grow throughout their life at the rate of about 4 to 5 inches per year. Their daily gnawing behavior along with teeth grinding are the only things that keeps their incisors worn down enough to fit in their mouths. Rodents have a space between their front incisors and rear molars called the diastema. This space gives rodents the ability to gnaw on items while blocking their airway and tongue from the material, substance or contaminate. This is the reason why commercial sprays, gels, powders and sour/spicy deterrents do not work on rodents, because they do not have to ingest or taste the item they are gnawing on to get inside or through it.
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