Two species of rat are most commonly found in homes, The larger, heavy set Brown Rat and the slender Black Rat with a pointy nose and big ears. They require access to a lot more water than mice and leave larger telltale droppings, around 12mm – 18mm in length. Prolific breeders, they like to live in roof and wall cavities, living for about a year producing 4 – 5 litters from as early as 3 months old. Rats can be a fire hazard in older buildings, with a tendency to gnaw on loose wiring. If you suspect rats are in your home, contact us for a professional inspection right away.
NORWAY RAT – RATTUS NORVEGICUS (ALSO KNOWN AS THE BROWN RAT)
The Norway rat is the largest of the rodent species and the most common, this means they are usually the most dominant species if sharing an area with other rodents. They have a heavy set body and weigh about 450 grams, their fur is reddish to brown in colour and they have a blunt nose and small ears with fine hairs, Dropping are blunt and 18mm in length. Norway rats are extremely good climbers, swimmers and jumpers. They live for about a year and females can have 5-6 litters in that time, from as early as three months old. They will infest factories, warehouses, farms, garbage dumps and homes.
In the home they will set up nests in wall cavities, roof voids or any other area that offers secluded and undisturbed shelter. They are omnivorous, and will eat animal and human foods or feedstock. The brown rat requires constant access to water and will eat larger meals, foraging less for their food. Signs of their presence include gnawing or nibbling marks and contamination of food stores or products with droppings or urine. They can cause short circuits by chewing on wiring in wall cavities, leading to breakdowns and fires.
ROOF RAT – RATTUS RATTUS (ALSO KNOWN AS THE BLACK RAT OR SHIP RAT)
The roof rat has a slender body with dark brown to black fur, which can be white underneath. They have a pointed nose, large prominent ears and the tail and body are the same length. Their droppings are 12mm long and pointed. They are good climbers and jumpers but are poor swimmers. The roof rat has a life span of about a year, reaches sexual maturity at about 3-4 months and can have 4-5 litters per year, with up to 8 in a litter. They will eat larger meals and the need for more water than other species means their food preferably has a higher moisture content. They eat mostly nuts, grains, leaves and fungi.
The roof rat is found mostly indoors in roof spaces, and will nest in roof voids and wall cavities. They will nest in trees but will rarely burrow. They do infest ships and seaports, hence the name Ship Rat. When they come under threat their natural instinct is to flee upwards, they must feel safe before eating and if they cannot eat quickly they will remove the food from that area and take it somewhere they feel safe.