Norway Rat Information
Young rats reach sexual maturity in 2-3 months and they will have an average of 4 to 7 litters a year, with 8-12 young per litter. Rats live approximately 6-12 months in the wild. The Norway rat generally prefers to live in underground tunnels and tend to live in colonies. Rats will also live in sewers and drain pipes. The Norway Rat is an excellent swimmer and have been known to swim through pipes to access a structure .Rats are omnivores and will consume many different types of foods. Unlike mice, rats need a daily water source. They can obtain water from toilets, sinks, puddles, or from condensation on utility pipes. Rats are suspicious of changes in their environment or new foods, for this reason it may take a couple of days for rats to frequent traps or rodent bait. Rats are nocturnal, with their peak activity at dusk or before dawn.You may see activity during the day when the populations are high.
Rat control starts with a thorough inspection of the exterior rodent entrance ways, harborages as well as internal and external food sources. The inspection will define the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program that will combine all pest control efforts such a exclusion, prevention, sanitation, mechanical and chemical control procedures. It is important to eliminate the rodents quickly so the least amount of environmental contamination and structural damage will occur.
Harborages: Rats are normally found in ground nests in a series of tunnels called burrows. These burrows are often found under wood piles, around sheds & structures and under ground cover like English Ivy or Junipers. Rats will also live in sewers, crawl spaces, attics and wall voids. Rats can invade attics where they will feed on seeds and acorns found in the gutters of homes. Bushes and tree limbs should be trimmed away from the house to prevent easy access to the roof areas. Be sure to clean the gutters regularly. Store firewood away from the structure and keep the firewood off the ground where possible.
Entrance Ways: A young rat can pass through an opening the size of a quarter! It is important to inspect for these openings around doorways, garage doors, pipe openings and vent pipe openings. Holes can be sealed temporarily with steal or copper wool or with foam and silicon caulking. A more permanent solution would be to cement openings where possible or repair the area with wood, siding or sheet metal where applicable. Don’t forget to inspect the bottom of the doorways and install metal door sweeps as necessary.
Food Sources: Rats are omnivores and will consume seeds, grains, nuts, insects, slugs and worms. Indoors they feed on dried pet foods, cereals, chocolate, candy and all grains & seeds including grass seeds. Common outdoor sources of food are bird feeders, vegetable gardens, trash containers, pet foods and barbecues. Indoors they will invade pantries, pet bowls, stored bird and grass seeds in garages and basements.
Control Options: There are several baits and devices that are used to eliminate rats. Some of which are snap traps, glue boards and rodent bait blocks. Always place rodent control devices against walls in areas of activity. Allow some time for the rodent to get used to these new objects. Make sure the traps are perpendicular to the wall with the trigger against the wall. Some favorite baits for rat snap traps are peanut butter, bacon, cheese or cotton balls for nesting material. You can use dental floss to help keep the bait on the trap. When using rodenticide baits be absolutely sure that the bait cannot be accessed by children or pets. Professional pest control operators use tamper-resistant boxes to contain the baits. Additionally these boxes are anchored to the ground or structure with a cable.