Norway Rat

Category:

Actual Size: 16” long including the tail

Characteristics: Robust bodies. Typically grayish-brown can be reddish-brown to blackish.

Habitat: Known to create 6.5 feet long burrows along property lines and gardens. Will nest in basements and crawl spaces of homes.

Habits: 

  • Often more aggressive than other types of rats.
  • Tails are hairy and shorter than their head and body combined.
  • Prefer to live in underground burrows, basements, and tunnels.

Norway Rats in Central and Eastern Virginia

Despite their name, Norway rats are not Norwegian! They are often known as brown rats, barn rats, and more. Norway rats are stocky, heavy-bodied rats and are larger and more aggressive than their cousin the roof rat. Found throughout the United States, Norway rats are commensal rodents, living near and dependent on the human habitat for survival. Norway rats will eat almost anything but prefer cereal grains, meats, fish, nuts, and some fruits. Like most rodents, Norway rats are most active an hour after sunset and just before dawn. Like many rats, their gnawing and chewing activity can be especially dangerous and destructive.

Norway Rat Habitat

Norway rats are best known for digging burrows to nest within. They also sometimes burrow within holes leftover from other rodents or animals. In general, these burrows are 2 to 3 inches in diameter and up to 6.5 feet in length. Burrows are constructed outdoors beside foundations and gardens. Norway rats are nocturnal and will enter homes at night in search of food, returning back to their burrow.  If nests are found inside homes, they are typically in basements and crawl spaces. If a population is large, Norway rats will nest in upper levels of the property, such as the attic.

Norway Rat Habits & Dangers

Norway rats can damage foundations, slabs, garden crops, and plants as they burrow and gnaw to find food and shelter. Inside homes, Norway rats may cause extensive damage when nesting in walls and attics. Accounts of rodents starting fires through the gnawing of electrical wires have been widely reported. Chewed, exposed wires inside walls can spark, causing interior walls to catch fire. When foraging for food, these rats consume and contaminate food meant for humans, pets, and livestock. Salmonella, leptospirosis, and rat-bite fever are among the dozens of diseases spread by Norway rats.

Because Norway rats can be dangerous in your Virginia property, always contact your local rodent exterminators for help!