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Norway Rat

Norway Rat

Photo Source:
National Pest Management Association


Rats Around Massachusetts

You Dirty Rat

Get Control of and Prevent Rat Problems

The Norway rat goes by a variety of aliases - brown rat, common rat, Norwegian rat or wharf rat. Its actual species is Rattus norvegicus and it is one of the best-known and most common rats, and also one of the largest.

Believed to have originally come from northern China, this rodent has now spread to all continents except Antarctica and is the dominant rat in Europe and much of North America, including the Boston Metro North, Merrimack Valley and North Shore areas of Massachusetts.

If you're having a rat problem or want to avoid one and you're in my area, call Dura Tech for professional handling of this pest, which is a known disease carrier. With my 35+ years of experience, you can bet I've seen more than my share and you can also bet they wish they hadn't seen me.

In the News: New York City's Rats Are Carrying Viruses No One's Seen Before

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Getting to Know the Enemy

What Rats Eat

The brown rat is a true omnivore (it will eat almost anything), but cereals are typically a significant part of its diet. Some scientists have reached the conclusion that the most-preferred foods of brown or Norway rats were (in order):

  • Scrambled eggs

  • Macaroni and cheese

  • Cooked corn kernels

Meats, fish, livestock feed and fresh fruits are also readily consumed.

Least-preferred foods are raw beets, peaches, and raw celery.

Rat Breeding and Activity Patterns

Norway rats are usually active at night with dusk and dawn typically being their most active time. Rats are good swimmers, both on the surface and underwater, but they are poor climbers.

The Norway rat can breed all year long if conditions are suitable, as they would be indoors. Outdoors breeding subsides during extremely hot or cold weather.

  • A single female Norway rat has an average of four to seven litters a year.

  • The gestation period is only 22 days.

  • Rat litters can number up to fourteen, although eight to twelve is more common.

If a large fraction of a rat population is exterminated, the remaining rats will increase their reproductive rate, and quickly restore the old population level.


Where Rats Live

In general, rats live almost everywhere people live. Brown rats live in large groups, either in burrows or sub-surface places such as sewers and cellars.

Indoors, Norway rats prefer to nest in the lower levels of buildings, but when populations are large, they will also occupy attics, suspended ceiling areas and upper floors.

Indoors, nests may be located in:

  • Wall voids

  • Underneath floors

  • In crawl spaces

  • Under or behind stationary equipment.

  • Rats have also been found nesting in furniture within occupied rooms.

Outdoor nesting areas are often burrows in the ground along foundation walls. Brown rats dig well, and often excavate extensive burrow systems.

Rats and Diseases

Both Rats and the Ticks They Carry Can Mean Disease


Brown rats carry some diseases, including Weil's disease, cryptosporidiosis, Viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF), Q fever and hantavirus pulmonary syndrome.

Brown rats are sometimes mistakenly thought to harbor bubonic plague, a possible cause of The Black Death. However, the bacteria responsible, Yersinia pestis, incubates in only a few rodent species and is usually transmitted zoonotically by rat fleas - common rodents include ground squirrels and wood rats.

In short, a brown rat may catch fleas that have plague, but cannot contract the disease itself, whereas other non-rodent species like dogs, cats, and humans can be bitten by diseased fleas or come in contact with an infected animal and then become infected themselves.

Source: Wikipedia (Brown Rat)


Did You Know?


  • Fleas on Norway rats and roof rats can carry Murine Typhus.

  • Weil's disease (leptospirosis) can be contracted through rat urine as well as from dogs, cattle or pigs who may come into contact with rats and their urine.

  • Rat urine can enter the food or water put out for pets and other animals.

  • Rat-Bite Fever can be transported through a rat's saliva.

Read more about rats and diseases


Get Year-Round Pest Protection

Peace of Mind All Year Long

If you're in my Boston metro suburban service area, you owe it to yourself to get pest protection for your family and your home from pests and the diseases they carry all year long with a comprehensive, single-family home, quarterly pest control service plan from Dura Tech.

  • Each program starts with a comprehensive inspection and price quote. There is a $40 service fee for this inspection, which you get back when you become a Dura Tech customer. Dura Tech does not conduct wood destroying insect inspections as required by HUD, VA and conventional lenders for the transfer or sale of real estate.

  • Your pest management program is customized to meet your needs.

  • Rats are included in this program.

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