Keys to Rat Identification

One of the more troublesome pests that are capable of causing significant harm in home and business settings is the rat. As a home or business owner, it’s important for you to possess some essential, basic information about the rat. This is necessary so that you will be able to timely identify a rat issue at or in your property in a timely manner.

Common Types of Rats in the United States

While there are a considerable number of rat species that do live in different locations in the United States, there are two types of rats that are most common in the country:

  • Norway rat (also known as sewer rat or brown rat)
  • Roof rat (also known as the black rat)

Physical Description of Norway Rat

A Norway rat typically has brown fur. This rodent’s fur tends to be a darker brown on top and a lighter shade of brown underneath. There are Norway rats that have a dark gray fur, but the brown coloration is far and away from the most common hue for the Norway rat.

Norway rats have noticeably stocky bodies. Their tails are smaller than their body length, which is unusual for rats. More often than not, a rat’s tail is at least as long as its body. In addition, the ears and eyes of Norway rats are smaller when contrasted with the overall size of their heads and bodies.

Physical Description of Roof Rat

A roof rat has black fur. The body of the roof rat is sleeker than that of the Norway rat. Unlike a Norway rat, there usually is a consistency in the fur coloration of a roof rat. In other words, a roof rat fur has the same shading on the top and underbelly of its body.

Roof rats are like most other rats in that it has a tail that is at least as long, if not a bit longer than its body. The eyes of roof rats are slightly larger than those of Norway rats, as are the ears of these types of rodents.

Effective Ways of Identifying a Type of Rat

The reality is that you are not likely to see a rat immediately when these critters infest your home or business. Thus, you need to look to other means of identifying the presence of rats in your home or business and the type of rat that has infested or invaded your space. The most effective ways of figuring out what type of rat may be in or on your property are through identifying where the rodent appears to be nesting and via a general spectrum of telltale signs of a rat infestation.

Habitat of Norway Rats

Norway rats tend to occupy spaces on the ground or underneath it. In the out of doors, Norway rats will burrow into the earth and build nests a bit underground. Because these rats tend to be found in urban or suburban areas, when they do nest outside in the wild, they are likely to construct their burrows and nests in close proximity to natural structures like trees and manmade ones like houses, businesses, barns, and so forth.

Norway rats have earned the moniker of “sewer rats” for good reason. These types of rats find their way into sewer systems with regularity. Indeed, it is not highly likely that a major metropolitan area (and even smaller bergs) lack a population of Norway rats living in their sewer systems.

Norway rats are inclined in invade structures built by humans. This is done for two primary reasons: to obtain food and shelter. When Norway rats infest a residence, business, or other structure, they are likely to populate areas on the ground floor, in the basement, or in a crawlspace. Although they are capable of making their way to higher levels in a manmade structure, they are not likely to do so.

Habitat of Roof Rats

Unlike Norway rats, roof rats are inclined to live above the ground. These rats prefer nesting in trees or higher up in or on manmade structures. Roof rats are adept climbers and will take advantage of virtually any type of tree that is native to a particular location where these rats are found.

When it comes to occupying a residential or commercial property, roof rats target higher levels of the premises.  Roof rats oftentimes access a building through the roof, frequently climbing trees to gain access to a rooftop in the first instance.

Roof rats are inclined to nest in attics in manmade structures. They are also apt to congregate above false ceilings and on rooftops themselves. If your residence or business has a fireplace and associated chimney that are not used, this can prove to be an attractive space for roof rats as well as other critters like squirrels.

Other Signs That Identify Rats

Finally, because you are not likely to view rats when they begin to occupy a space in your home, other signs that can be used for identification purposes include:

  • Droppings
  • Scratching sounds
  • Scurrying sounds
  • Squealing
  • Gnaw marks (on the structure of your home or business and on objects)
  • Rat trails (a greasy looking smear, likely along the floor near a wall)