The head and body of the Norway rat range from 7 1/2 to 9 1/2 inches in length. The scaly tail is 6 to 8 inches in length. Their fur is shaggy brown with some black hairs. They have small eyes and ears.
Norway rats are nocturnal (much more active at night). They are very cautious… usually not straying more than 100 to 150 feet from their nest site. They can enter a structure through an opening as small as a 1/2 inch. When nesting inside a structure, they prefer to nest on the lower levels and often burrow under foundations, floors, and stacks of products. When nesting outdoors, they burrow in the soil, under sidewalks, near streams and rivers, piles of wood and garbage.
Norway rats will eat nearly any kind of food, but prefer high-quality foods such as meat and grain. Rats require 1/2 to 1 fluid ounce of water daily when feeding on dry food. Rats have keen taste, hearing and sense of smell. They will climb to find food or to find shelter.
Life Cycle & Reproduction
Rats can live up to 18 months, but most die before reaching a year old. Litters range from 6 to 12 young and are born 21 to 23 days after mating. Young rats reach reproductive maturity in about three months. Breeding is most active in spring and fall. The average female has four to six litters per year.
Mice and rats eat and contaminate food. They damage and destroy property by chewing wires, which may cause fires. They destroy labels on cans and damage sacks and other containers. They undermine buildings, gnaw on pipes, chew water hoses, and cut through mortar and cement. They damage wood doors, floors, walls, clothing and furniture. Mice and rats carry diseases that are health hazards to both human and domestic animals – diseases such as Typhus Fever, Trichinosis, plague, infectious jaundice, Salmonella and rat mite dermatitis.