Norway Rats

norway rat
Color: Brown with scattered black hairs; gray to white underside
Shape: Long, heavily-bodied, blunt muzzle, small ears and eyes
Size: 7 - 9 1/2 inches long
Region: Found throughout the U.S.

Norway rats are typically nocturnal. Outdoors, they burrow in soil near riverbanks streams, under concrete slabs and piles of garbage. Indoors, they will often nest in basements, undisturbed materials or piles of debris. To obtain food or water they will gnaw through almost anything, including plastic or lead pipes.


Through their gnawing and eating, Norway rats can cause damage to structures and personal property. They can also spread diseases including rat-bite fever, cowpox virus, plague, trichinosis and salmonellosis. These rats can also introduce mites and fleas into a home.


Norway rats are known to hide in clutter, so store boxes off the floor and keep areas clear. Pay close attention to areas where utilities and pipes enter the home and be sure to seal cracks and holes at least ½ inch in diameter on the outside of your home. Keep food in sealed, rodent-proof containers. Keep kitchen floors and counters clean. Inspect your home for rodent droppings, damaged goods and gnaw marks.

Roof Rats

roof rat
Color: Brown with black intermixed; gray, white or black underside
Shape: Long and thin with scaly tail; large ears and eyes
Size: 6 - 8 inches not including tail
Region: Coastal states and the southern third of the U.S.

Roof rats are primarily nocturnal. These rats live in colonies and prefer foraging for food in groups of up to ten and frequent the same food source time after time. They will also follow the same path to their food from their nest. Their runways may have dark rubs from where the fur makes contact and are typically free of debris.


Roof rats and their fleas have been historically associated with the bubonic plague. They can also spread jaundice, rat-bite fever, typhus, trichinosis and salmonellosis.


Roof rats are known to hide in upper areas, so to prevent roof rats from entering a home, seal up any holes or cracks larger than a quarter inch in diameter. Pay close attention to areas where utilities and pipes enter the home home and be sure to seal cracks and holes on the outside of your home. Keep food in sealed, rodent-proof containers. Make sure to keep tree branches and shrubs cut back from the house. Regularly inspect rarely used cars/RV’s basements and attics.

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