How to Identify Different Types of Rats

How to Identify Different Types of Rats

How to Identify Different Types of Rats

There are 51 various types of rats in the world! Many of which have become beloved pets. Their coats come in an array of markings and colors, and some even have curly hair instead of straight. Domesticated rats can become a docile, sweet addition to the family. They can be just as playful and as affectionate as your dog or cat, learn tricks, and enjoy being held. This makes them a fun favorite amongst children as well as adults. However, when most families think of rats, they often think of the pests breaking into their homes, stealing food, chewing through boxes and wires, and contaminating their furniture with their urine and feces, which usually carries harmful diseases! Not the pleasant kind of rat at all.

These rats that invade our houses are almost always one or two types of rats, and, unfortunately, they are not the cute, friendly, clean little fellows we mentioned earlier. They’re either Norway rats or roof rats. Both are considered dangerous pests and are one of the main reasons for calling pest control. Knowing what kind of rat has invaded your home can definitely help make trapping the critters easier. Understanding their habitats and food preferences, alone, can make it possible for you to adequately rodent proof your house so it becomes a lot less inviting to these furry pests in the future.

Here’s what to look for!

The Norway Rat

These guys are also known as brown rats, and they are significantly larger than your average house mouse. A Norway rat can measure well over a foot long from body to tail! Earning them the title of “super rat.” They have small ears and smaller eyes in comparison to mice and roof rats, with a tail that’s shorter than the length of their large bodies.

Courtesy of DSD

Ideal Environment

If you have rats in your basement or garage, or if you hear something scurrying across your floors at night, it’s likely a Norway rat. These pesky brown rats like to inhabit dark, messy environments where they have hiding spaces readily available for them to use as shelter against the outdoor elements and predators. They’re also fantastic swimmers that drink up to 1 to 2 ounces of water a day, making them notorious for choosing sewers as their place of residence. If thinking about rats in the sewer isn’t nasty enough, don’t be surprised if one of these Norway rats finds their way through your plumbing and up through your toilet!

Keeping a clean environment is one way to deter these pests from your home. Organizing your house and garage will eliminate those sought after hiding spots and will ultimately look less appealing to them. Because Norway rats are drawn to damp areas, it’s important to keep materials that can easily succumb to rain and other sources of water away from your home. Wood piles are a good example. Brown rats love the shelter than the wood provides and adding moisture to that shelter is the best of both worlds to the critters. Keeping wood piles away from your home also ensures that the rats don’t become curious enough to try sneaking into your house.

Eating Preferences

These rats are omnivorous, which means that they will consume anything from grains, cereals, seeds, and fruit, to insects, and other animals smaller than themselves. Brown rats are scavengers and hardly considered picky eaters at all. They’ve been known to hunt odd sources of food such as fresh fish from a pond or stream, baby chicks, or even lizards. They do prefer fresher foods for their diet, but these pests won’t hesitate to eat the rotting fruit in your garden or dig through the trash looking for leftovers.

Just be sure to pick up any fruits or nuts that might fall from your trees or bushes to help deter these rats from an easy food source. Also keeping your outdoor trash bins inaccessible, especially at night, will greatly reduce the attraction of rodents. Sometimes this is as easy as switching to trash bins that come with heavy lids.

Trapping Methods

Snap traps are an effective method for trapping Norway rats. They can be baited with any one of their favorite foods. Nuts and seeds or even dog food secured in peanut butter is a great option that’s too tempting for the rats to pass up. However, despite being scavengers, brown rats are extremely cautious of their surroundings and are not likely to try a new food source that appeared overnight. One way to ensure a successful capture is to leave the trap unlatched in their favorite pathways and crawlspaces until they become accustomed to it, taking more and more of the bait. Look for areas frequented by feces and place them there.

Another method unique to brown rats is to deprive them of their water source and create your own. Since these rats are always actively seeking water, they’re likely to fall prey to your trap. This method works best with live-capture traps.

The Roof Rat

These rats are often referred to as black and white rats or fruit rats and are extremely adept climbers! They’re smaller in appearance compared to the Norway rat, with sleek black fur and a slimmer build. Their eyes and ears are larger as well, a feature similar to mice. The tails are longer than the length of their bodies, and they have a pointed snout unlike the brown rat’s blunt nose.

Courtesy of Kapa65

Ideal Environment

It’s no surprise where these black rats prefer to live with a name like “roof rat.” These are the critters that usually find their way into your attic, building their nests within your insulation, and gnawing through your beams and wires. They hate the cold and will do anything to be inside a nice warm environment, climbing trees, vines, and shrubbery to gain access into your house. These sneaky pests are notorious for getting stuck within tight crawlspaces in your walls, which can sometimes lead to their own demise. Unfortunately, this only gives you one more problem to worry about after a roof rat’s rotting corpse starts giving off a foul odor.

Cut back tree branches so they’re at least 6 feet away from your home and monitor the shrubbery growing around your residence to keep these black and white rats from entering. Proper rodent proofing is the best way to secure your home from these intruders.

Eating Preferences

Roof rats love fruits, grains, and nuts, but will settle for small insects and meat if that’s an available option. Black and white rats will chew through your cereal boxes and sandwich bread if given the chance, and they won’t hesitate to sneak a few bites from any fruit or veggies left on the counters.

Make sure all nuts, seeds, and cereals are stored in airtight containers to prevent these unwanted guests from having their way. Also, try storing bread, veggies, and fruits in the fridge. They’ll not only be safe from rats, but the foods will last longer as well!

Trapping Methods

Once again, snap traps are an ideal choice for trapping roof rats. These rats can breed up to 4 to 8 pups per litter after they reach maturity at 2 to 3 months, therefore, it’s easy for your attic to succumb to an infestation of root rats.

Cleaning and organizing your attic will help deter black rats from seeking shelter, but if you’ve already got an infestation on your hands, you might want to consider calling in your local pest control. Cleaning an infestation from the attic can be dangerous, but the friendly team at Green Rat Control has over 20 years of experience trapping rodents, rodent proofing homes, and replacing soiled insulation.