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Norway Rat Facts & Information

Protect your home or business from Norway rats by learning techniques for identification and control.

Norway rat illustration
Rattus norvegicus
Brown or gray shaggy fur
Scale-covered ears & tails


How do I get rid of Norway rats?

What You Can Do

Read the following tips for keeping Norway rat infestations at bay:

  • Seal Containers: Garbage cans should have a secure lid and be emptied on a regular basis. Food, including bird seed and pet food, should be kept in sealed containers.

  • Block Entryways: Windows and doors should not be left open, particularly overnight when rodents are most active. Any gaps around doors, windows, or chimneys should be closed. Dryer vents should have screen covers, and tree branches touching the home should be trimmed.

  • Reduce Food Sources: Clean up fallen bird seed from the base of bird feeders. Make sure pet food is out of reach from Norway rats. Remove all pet feces in your yard.

  • Reduce Water Sources: Homeowners should fix plumbing leaks, remove outdoor containers retaining water, and ensure spigots and sprinklers are not dripping.

What Orkin Does

Your local Orkin Pro is trained to help manage Norway rats and similar pests. Since every building or home is different, your Orkin Pro will design a unique rodent treatment program for your situation.

Orkin can provide the right solution to keep Norway rats in their place and out of your home or business.

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Frequently Asked Question

Behavior, Diet & Habits

Understanding Norway Rats


  • Size: They can reach lengths of 40 cm, and their tails alone can measure 21 cm. They are large rodents that may weigh in excess of 500 grams.

  • Color: Norway rats have fur that is brown or gray in color.

  • Characteristics: These rodents are covered in shaggy fur. Their ears and tails are covered in scales, and their tails are shorter than their head and body.


Norway rats tend to remain in hiding during the day. They are not usually seen exposed unless driven out of their hiding spaces because of limited space or disturbances.

These pests thrive in a variety of human habitats. While it is believed that they originally lived only within temperate forest regions, they are extremely adaptive and now thrive comfortably in densely populated cities.

These rats live in communities with dominant and subordinate members, though they are not truly social like ants. They make their colony as close to a water source as possible. They typically nest in underground burrows from which they enter buildings in search of food. These rats can be found living in:

  • Attics

  • Basements

  • Crawkspaces

  • Embankments near tree roots

  • Overgrown weedy areas

  • Sewers

  • Soil beneath buildings

  • Woodpiles

Geographical Range

Sometimes called “Norway wood rats” or “Norwegian water rats,” Norway rats are prevalent throughout North America. Arriving on ships from Great Britain circa 1775, these rodents quickly spread throughout the American Midwest. By the 1800s, they were present as far as Ontario, Canada.


Norway rats are omnivorous and feed on a variety of food sources. They are capable of catching small fish and rodents. These pests tend to feed on:

  • Dead animals

  • Fruits

  • Grains

  • Meats

  • Nuts

Reproduction & Lifespan

Norway rats reach sexual maturity in 2 to 5 months and can breed any month of the year. Females can have three to 12 litters per year and litters may number from 4 to 22. Adults generally live up to one year in the wild.

Norway Rat Eating

Norway Rat Eating

More Information

Identifying Norway Rats

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