What Rat is That?

The majority of homeowners across the United States will encounter one of two common varieties of rats: Norway rats and/or roof rats. Here, we offer a few details about each.

Norway Rat
Roof Rat

Norway Rats

The Norway Rat, (Rattus norvegicus) is known by many alternative names – the sewer rat, brown rat, water rat, wharf rat, and gray rat. This rat is considered common across the United States. Norway rats will typically nest in the ground, in wall cavities or under discarded materials in your yard or garage.

How Can I Identify a Norway Rat?

Identifying Norway Rats

What do Norway Rats Eat?

Norway rats will eat different types of food, but prefer proteins and carbohydrates. Food items from household garbage provide these rats with a balanced diet. They will eat meats, fish, cereal grains, livestock feed, and fresh fruits. Norway rats that live outside may feed outside or enter buildings at night daily for food and return to their outside habitat burrows after feeding. These rats will kill and eat various small reptiles, mammals, birds, and insects.

What do rats eat?

Norway rats need an abundant supply of water for survival. They require 1/2-1 ounce of water daily if they feed on dry foods. If they are inside your house, they will look for water in toilets, sinks, and even from condensation collecting on utility pipes; outside, they will source areas where water has collected, like rain puddles.


Roof Rats

A roof rat (Rattus rattus) is smaller in size and tends to be slenderer compared to the Norway rat. Roof rats tend to have a longer tail that reaches past the head. The roof rat is also called the gray-bellied rat, white-bellied rat, black rat and ship rat.

Located in the coastal areas of the USA, roof rats do not adapt well to cooler temperatures, and are found mostly within East Coast, West Coast and Gulf Coast states. A more skittish rat, the roof rat is sensitive to any new change in its environment. Commonly found — and heard — in attics or walls, roof rats can also be tracked in the tree line. Roof rats are very agile and can climb very easily.

How Can I Identify a Roof Rat?

Roof rats have pointed noses and large ears and, in fact, are often mistaken for common house mice. The head and feet of adult house mice are proportionally smaller than their bodies, while young roof rats have larger heads and feet in comparison to their bodies. The two species can easily be mistaken for each other when you’re attempting to identify them on your property.

The fur of the roof rat is smooth with adults measuring approximately 7-10 inches in length, weighing about 5-9 ounces. The roof rat has a long tail which is longer than the combined length of the head and body. If you pull the tail back over the body, it will reach over its head.

Identifying Roof Rats

What do Roof Rats Eat?

Roof rats will eat meat and grain, but their preferences are fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts, due to their coastal roots. They will also eat snails, slugs, and insects. Roof rats prefer smaller portions of food compared to Norway rats.

Since roof rats prefer live above ground in shrubs, trees or attics. This, along with the fact that roof rats will eat in various different locations, will be helpful factors when you’re deciding on appropriate rat control tools to deploy in and around your property.

Speaking of deployment, we would like to introduce you to a current best practice when it comes to pest control, known as Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

What do rats eat?