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Norway Rat sometimes called brown or sewer rats, are stocky burrowing rodents that are larger than roof rats. Their burrows are found along building foundations, beneath rubbish or woodpiles, and in moist areas in and around gardens and fields.
Norway rats typically have coarse, brown fur with a pale gray or grayish brown underside. They have small eyes, naked ears, and a scaly tail that is shorter than the length of their head and body. Mature rats are range between 150-300 grams and about 400 mm long. The females have 12 mammae.
The Norway, or brown, rat lives both as a commensal in close association with man and in the feral state, chiefly where vegetation is tall and rank and affords adequate protection. For example, the marshy lands on Galveston Island off the coast of Texas offer ideal habitat for them. As a commensal this rat lives principally in basements, on the ground floor, or in burrows under sidewalks or outbuildings.
They appear to be most common about feed stores, chicken houses, and garbage dumps. Although more at home on the ground, these rats are adept at climbing and have been observed traveling along telephone wires from one building to another. In places they become exceedingly numerous and destructive.
Life Cycle:Norway Rats always live in large groups in burrows. Rat burrows are actually a large network of passageways, runways, and chambers. A rat pack hunts together, breeds together, and defends the burrow together. Rats breed often and each female may have seven litters in a year. Each litter has 2 to 14 young. A rat is full grown in about four weeks. Rat nests are made of leaves, twigs, and trash.Norway Rats only live two or three years.
Threats: Rattus norvegicus to be the greatest mammal pest of all time. Currently, an estimated 150-175 million Norway rats live in the United States causing millions in dollars in damage to crops and buildings each year. A U.S. Government report estimated that each individual rat annually damages $1 to $10 worth of food and other material, and contaminates 5 to 10 times more. Using their ever-growing incisors and strong jaws, these rats cause structural damage by burrowing underneath buildings and walkways and gnawing through walls, pipes, and electrical wires.
These rats have even started fires by gnawing matches and have caused floods by tunneling through dams. They contaminate crops and food, and may also restrict plant growth by eating large amounts of seeds. More importantly, they transmit diseases directly by biting people and contaminating food, and indirectly by carrying lice and fleas. Historically, they have been vectors for bubonic plague, leptospirosis, typhus, spotted fever, tularemia, salmonella food poisoning, infectious jaundice, and other serious diseases.
Sanitation Control: : Poor sanitation and the presence of garbage allows rats to exist in residential areas. Good sanitation will effectively limit the number of rats that can survive in and around the home. This involves good housekeeping, proper storage and handling of food materials and refuse and elimination of rodent harborage (shelter). Outside dog pens must be properly maintained, to reduce potential rat problems.On farms where food grains are handled and stored, or where livestock are housed and fed, it is difficult to remove all food that rats can use. In such situations, paying particular attention to removing shelter that rats can use for hiding, resting, and nesting is valuable in reducing rat numbers.
Warehouses, grain mills, and silos are especially vulnerable to rodent infestation. Store bulk foods in rodent-proof buildings, rooms, or containers whenever possible. Stack sacked food on pallets with adequate space left around and under stored articles to allow inspection for signs of rats. Good sanitary practices will not eliminate rats under all conditions, but will make the environment less suitable for them to thrive.
Rat-Proof Construction:The most successful and long lasting form of rat control in buildings is to â€śbuild them out.â€ť Seal cracks and openings in building foundations, and any openings for water pipes, electric wires, sewer pipes, drain spouts, and vents. No hole larger than 1/4 inch should be left unsealed to exclude both rats and house mice. Make sure doors, windows, and screens fit tightly. Their edges can be covered with sheet metal if gnawing is a problem. Coarse steel wool, wire screen, and lightweight sheet metal are excellent materials for plugging gaps and holes. Plastic sheeting, wood, caulking, and other less sturdy materials are likely to be gnawed away.
Because rats (and house mice) are excellent climbers, openings above ground level must also be plugged. Rodent proofing against roof rats usually requires more time to find entry points than for Norway rats because of their greater climbing ability. Roof rats often enter buildings at the roof line area so be sure that all access points in the roof are sealed. If roof rats are travelling on overhead utility wires, contact a pest control professional or the utility company for information and assistance with measures that can be taken to prevent this.
Trapping: For Norway rats, set traps close to walls, behind objects, in dark corners, and in places where rat signs, such as droppings, have been seen. Position traps along a wall so that they extend from the wall at right angles, with the trigger end nearly touching the wall. If traps are set parallel to the wall, they should be set in pairs to intercept rodents traveling from either direction.
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