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Rat Facts, Identification and Control

Scientific Order: Rodentia

Family: Muridae

Genus: Rattus (true rats)

Common Species:

  • The Black Rat (Rattus Rattus)

  • The Norwegian Rat (Rattus Norvegicus)


  • Size: Rats are medium sized rodents that seldom weigh over a pound.

  • Color: Most commonly brownish gray, but can be black.

Behavior and Diet

Rats are opportunistic omnivores. They'll eat whatever they can find wherever they can find it, though they tend to prefer grains, fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts.


Female rats typically give birth to eight to 10 pups per litter. Multiply that number by seven litters a year and each female rat in an infestation could add 70 rats annually. That’s a lot of rats!

Other characteristics

  • Rats have distinctive hairless tails that can measure up to a few inches long.

  • Rats instinctively avoid certain tastes and odors. However, no rat repellent has been discovered that eliminates an infestation.

  • Because rats have poor eyesight, they rely primarily on their sense of smell and taste to discern their surroundings.

  • Adult rats can squeeze through holes no bigger than a quarter (that's how they get into your building even though you can't find their entrances!).

  • Rats transmit a variety of diseases to humans and other animals (bacterial, protozoan and viral), parasites (worms) and ectoparasites (fleas, lice and mites).

  • Rats are agile vertical climbers and excellent swimmers. Trying to "flood" a rat infestation to kill rats would be like throwing them a free pool party!

Signs of Rat Infestation

The most common signs of rat infestations include droppings around food containers, scratching, rustling noises in walls and attics, nests behind large objects moved, dark smudge marks on walls, rafters and baseboards caused by rats marking their territory with their fur, and evidence of teeth marks on all accessible surfaces.

Treatment and Prevention

Rodents like living in the same environments humans do, but there are ways to keep them out. Keep rubbish bins away from your entrance and keep them tightly closed, consistently clean the building both inside and out, and make sure that stacked outdoor materials are at least 15 feet from the building to prevent movement from outdoor nests to indoor ones.

 If you have an infestation, your best bet is to call professionals to take care of your problem. However, you can attempt to use traps or chemical control.

 Like mice, rats remain unaffected by ultrasonic devices that are supposed to "drive away" rodents by frightening them, and rat poison only kills rats that happen to find it and eat enough to kill them - so keep that in mind!

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