Controlling Norway Rats : Identification & Removal Tips


The Norway rat was originally unintentionally brought to the Unites States by settlers who came on ships from Europe. They go by many names; house, brown, barn, gray, sewer or wharf rats and weigh about one pound. They have whitish gray fur on their belly and their fur is coarse, brownish or reddish gray above. Since their arrival in the United States in 1775; the Norway rat has spread itself across all 48 states.

According to the Wildlife Damage Management at Cornell University, the Norway rat likes to live in close proximity to people. They can be found in urban or suburban areas; cellars, stores, docks, sewers, warehouses and slaughterhouses. When on farms they will inhabit granaries, silos, livestock buildings and kennels. The rat will burrow to make its nest under buildings and other structures, along stream beds or around ponds. They will look for somewhere they have access to food and water to make a home that provides shelter.

The Norway rat will eat just about anything. If given a choice they would select a balanced diet by choosing fresh food over stale or contaminated foods. They would choose meats, fish, nuts, grains and fruit. They require half to one ounce of water daily when feeding on dry foods, but less when moist foods are available. They love the food they will find in your garbage as it offers a balanced diet and satisfies their moisture needs.

The Norway rat is also primarily nocturnal so you will see them come out to search for food around the time it gets dusk. When their population becomes to large; the Norway rat will come out during the daylight to search for food.

Signs of the Norway Rat

The Norway rat tends to stay out of sight during daytime, unless as stated their numbers get to high and they have to compete for food. You will notice droppings that are capsule shaped if they have entered your area. The rat will leave these along frequently used pathways. They will gnaw on your utility lines and other objects if they are in your home. You will also notice rub marks or grease stains they leave along the wall as they run along the edge of your rooms.

How to Prevent Norway Rats

They will seek shelter in your home looking for the three things they need to survive; food, water and shelter. If you reduce as many of these as possible they will not want to move in with you.

Reduce their food source

You can do this by putting a secure lid on your garbage container and make sure you empty it regularly. If you have bird seed or pet food; keep it stored in an air-tight container and to keep them away from your house, clean out bird feeder bottoms often. It is not unusual to see a rat eating pet feces in a yard; so pick up any waste you have and dispose of immediately.

Eliminate their water source

Make sure you do not have pipes that leak and remove any containers with standing water during the night. If you have a pet, empty their water bowels every evening when your pet retires with you. Don’t keep woodpiles or overgrown weedy areas close to your house for them to find shelter in.

Make sure all entry-ways are sealed

You should never leave doors or windows open, especially at night when the Norway rat is out searching for food sources. These rats can fit through incredibly small openings so do not even leave them cracked. Any cracks or gaps in doorways or chimneys should be sealed and you should place a screen over your dryer vent.

How to get rid of Norway Rats

One effective method of getting rid of the Norway rat is to trap them and set out rodent baits.


Trapping has the advantage over baiting as you don’t have to deal with rodenticides. If your problem is small enough, traps will be effective and yield a quick way to get rid of the rats. Trapping also allows for you to dispose of the dead rats before their odor can become a problem.

  • The first rule in using a rat trap is to put plenty of traps out. Usually the population is larger than you see or think so put out a lot of traps.
  • Make sure it is a rat trap you are using as a mouse trap is not large enough to hold rats.
  • Place the traps in high-activity areas. This will include darkened corners, behind appliances, along walls and in any areas you’ve seen signs of their droppings.
  • Rats look for enclosed safe areas so use the Protecta Bait Station as your choice of trap. These offer shelter to the rat; enticing it to enter and also protects non-targeted animals and children from harm of the trap snapping.
  • When setting the traps; to maximize your success in catching them, place them along their runways and extended at a right angle. Position it so the trigger end is almost touching the wall. If you set them parallel, put them in pairs so the rat will can be caught coming from both directions.
  • The rat is going to be shy of the trap at first as they are of all new objects. Once the trap has sat there for a week or two they will grow accustomed to it and it will then become effective for you.
  • You can get the rat used to the area before setting the trap by placing a food source there for them. Once they get used to finding food they will feel more comfortable with the area and you can then set the traps to catch them.


These are poison baits and can only be set out where they will not endanger domestic animals or children. For safety reasons there are rules and regulations to using rodenticides and the need to place them in tamper-resistant bait stations.

  • Determine the size of your Norway rat population and where their activity is located. Look for droppings, gnaw marks, grease marks, urine stains or other signs of their activity.
  • If you discover you have a chronic problem it is suggested you use; Final Pellets/Blox or Contrac Pellets. These are suitable in situations where rats have become abundant and a quick removal is necessary.

There are a lot of good reasons to get rid of the Norway rat if they have chosen to use your home as their own. Aside of the damage they can cause; rats are also a serious health risk to you and your family with the different diseases they can carry. Use these tips to keep the Norway rat away from your home and remove them if they have already entered.

Categorized as Rats

By David Jackson

I enjoy learning about new pest control strategies and sharing what I learn at I aim to create a reliable resource for people dealing with all sorts of pest issues.

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