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Destroying Norway Rat Burrows - How to Prevent Norway Rats

A Norway rat on a brick building.

In early 2017, Philadelphia was ranked #1 for being the rattiest city in the country; a not so favorable list to be on. According to a Bloomberg Magazine analysis of U.S. Census data released examining the 25 most populous metropolitan areas, the households in Philly are the most vermin-infested living spaces in the nation. In the American Housing Survey, which is conducted every two years by the government, about 18% of the Philadelphia residents report seeing evidence of mice and rats in the home. Rodents are more common in older cities with colder climates, and Boston, New York and D.C. were next on the list. Rats are some of the most troublesome and damaging rodents in the country and in Philly, Norway Rats are the most common. Today, we at Pest Control Technicians, Inc would like to relate some fundamentals concerning Norway rats.

Norway Rat Infestations

Generally, like most pests, Norway rats invade buildings in the hopes of finding food and water as well as situations of extreme weather. Norway rats are capable of excessive damage when they forage for food and nesting. The sooner the discovery of Norway rats are the better off you can remove them from the premises.

Identification of Norway Rats

Larger and stockier than other rats, the Norway rat weighs in between 14 and 17 ounces and averages about 17” from tail in length; their tail is shorter than the length of their body to their heads. Norway rats tend to have either brown or gray shaggy fur and feature ears or tail that is covered in scales.

Norway rats are the most common rat found in the world and believed to originate in Asia. Norway rats have blunt muzzles and smaller eyes and ears compared to other common rats. Additionally, these rats have shorter tails than other species that are scaly. Their fur is coarse and are frequently brownish or grayish with scattered black hairs throughout the coloring as well as lighter gray or white undersides and feet. Adults average 12 ½ – 18 ½ inches in length and weigh 10 -11 ¾ ounces.

Where Do Norway Rats Burrow?

Living outside as comfortably as they do inside, Norway rats are very adaptable. They tend to prefer areas with dense vegetation that gives them more cover and protection from predators including spotted skunks, barn owls, and house cats. When they sneak inside your abode, they will stick to the ground floor and if a basement is available, they will linger there. Outside, Norway rats burrow under out buildings and sidewalks. They will easily travel along power lines and rooftops, despite the incredible to climb great heights, they prefer to remain grounded.

What Do Norway Rats Like to Eat?

Generally, the Norway rats’ diet is mostly plant and animal matter. Favoring the seeds and other vegetarian food, they will eat other options such as garbage when food is scarce. Norway rats will eat young chicks and the eggs; and if necessary, they will resort to taking down and devouring lambs and young pigs in ranching and farming communities.

Norway Rat Populations

At an alarming rate, Norway rats reproduce quickly. Gestation is between 21 and 23 days with litters averaging 7 pups though females can have anywhere between 2-14 babies at a time. Norway Rats are very dependent on their mothers for first 2-4 weeks for survival. Born hairless and blind it will take 14-17 days before their eyes can open, so they don’t wean away from their mothers until around 4 weeks. Typically Norway rats that live outdoors reproduction slows down during the fall and winter months but when living inside, they are more than capable of breeding year round.

Norway Rat Damage

Norway rats are very agile and have unique capabilities that allow them to gnaw through many materials found in a structure including plastic and lead pipes. Their destruction can be costly as they forage for food, water and nesting materials inside homes. Though they will invade homes and businesses any time of year, it is more common for them to intrude in the fall when food is harder to find. As social pests, they band together during their daily habits and will burrow close to one another.

Diseases Spread By Norway Rats to Humans

Not only can they damage your home or business, Norway rats are known for carrying and transmitting diseases such as rat-bite fever, jaundice, trichinosis, plague, cowpox virus, and salmonellosis. Norway rats also tend to host fleas, which they can spread the infestation and flea diseases in homes and businesses as well.

How to Prevent Norway Rats

In an effort to fortify your home against Norway Rats, below we have compiled some preventative measures.

  • Repair any damaged screens on your doors and windows, replace decayed weather stripping, and install door sweeps on the doors’ exterior.
  • Install mesh coverings and screen vents on the chimney and vents.
  • Using caulk, steel wool or a combination of both, seal any cracks and holes on the outside of the home, including areas where utilities and pipes enter the home. Be sure to check for fissures in the windows, doors, siding, behind chimneys and underneath the wood fascia for openings and repair any found.
  • Take out the garbage regularly and store the outside trash bin away from the home and ensure all food packaged in plastics, cardboards, and paper are sealed in pest-proof containers.
  • Improve ventilation in attics, crawl spaces, and basements and keep them dry.
  • Inspect packages and second-hand furniture before bringing them inside your home.
  • Keep shrubbery trimmed and cut back from the house and store firewood 20 feet from the house and at least 18 inches off the ground.

Rodent Control & Removal

As the infestation numbers increase, the damage rises. Norway rats are not only devastating as to the cost in repairs, but are common carriers of endemic typhus fever, rat-bite fever, bubonic plague and other diseases. If you suspect Norway rats are in your Philadelphia home, call in the professionals of Pest Control Technicians, Inc. for rodent removal services.

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