Norway Rats: How They're a Nuisance, and How to Get Rid of Them

December 31, 2020

Rats. Rats. Rats! Let’s be honest, rats are pretty gnarly creatures. We’ll admit that there’s some charm in the pet rat, but that isn’t what we’re talking about here. What we’re talking about is something wilder, bigger, and more spine-tingling to see shooting across your basement floor. What we’re talking about is Norway Rats. Wait, what the heck is a Norway Rat?!? Let’s find out. 

What is a Norway Rat? 

Norway Rats- also known as brown rats- are big. Like, seriously big. These mammoth rodents measure in at about 16 inches long from nose to tail. Despite their name, these beasts tragically aren’t native to just Norway; no, these fiends are on every single continent (minus Antarctica), and North Carolina is not exempt. In the good old days, they used to live mostly in forests, living in infamy and spoken about in hushed tones like Bigfoot and the Chupacabra. But no longer. Today you’ll find these creatures living basically anywhere you’ll find humans, and they can mean trouble for your home. 

Why are Norway Rats a Problem? 

Well first of all, look at these things: 

Norway rat eating food

("Brown Rat" by Zeynel Cebeci is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0)


Do you want this thing sneaking around your house? We didn’t think so. But seriously, like any other rats, Norway Rats can cause problems that are relatively minor to pretty major. Like what? 

  • They can spread diseases to humans including; Leptospirosis or Weil's disease, Salmonella, Listeria, Toxoplasma gondii and Hantavirus.
  • They have been known to cause electrical fires, floods, and even gas leaks because of their relentless gnawing, which can cause punctured pipes, uninsulated wiring, and chewed-through gas pipes.
  • These rats can cause additional structural damage to infrastructure, objects, and property, chewing through drywall, gnawing on everything from books to furniture, and burrowing underneath decks, foundations, and sheds.

To top it off, Norway Rats are prolific at reproducing: a mother rat can have anywhere between 18 and 96 babies each year. Yikes. 

Signs of Norway Rats

Baby brown rat

It might seem super apparent what the signs of a Norway Rat would be, considering their size. See rat and run in the other direction, right? Well as it so happens, rats are actually exceptional shy, skittish creatures -- apparently, they don’t know their own size. So how else can you spot signs of these bulbous brutes? There are a few telltale indicators: 

  • Gnaw marks throughout your house
  • Finding capsule-shaped droppings with blunt ends
  • Greasy and/or dark rub marks against walls, doorways, or any other passageways
  • Burrow holes near decks, foundations, and sheds
  • Damaged or half-eaten food

Preventing Norway Rats

Brown rat

We’re guessing the disease, house fires, and poop were enough to want to prevent these repulsive rodents, and luckily there are a few things that you can do to shift the odds in your favor:

  • Seal gaps or holes around pipes, foundations, sheds, and decks. Rats only need about 15mm of space to squeeze their way in, so be thorough.
  • Keep your yard free of overgrowth and wood/debris piles -- these can act as nesting sites.
  • Cover up your waste, both indoor and outdoor. Rats have no problem doing a little dumpster diving, and that leftover pizza from the game on
  • Sunday (after the Panthers lost AGAIN) makes a great Norway Rat dinner.
  • Place tight-fitting caps on your home’s chimneys, make sure vent covers are secure, and repair holes found along the roofline.
  • Trim tree branches away from the roof so that they cannot provide a bridge to the structure.

Getting Rid of Norway Rats

Ok, so you did all that. Never have to worry about a bunch of whacked-out Norway Rats skittering around your home and property again, right? NOPE. Rats are persistent, and if you miss just one little hole or gap, just once forget to cover up your trash, or put off the tree branch trimming, you could easily find yourself with an infestation. But don’t worry! A-1 Pest Control can help. We’ve got rodent control covered, whether you have a Norway Rat problem like, right this second, or if you just want a hand making sure prevention is done right. Whatever problem you’re having, let’s talk and figure out what we can do to fix it!


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