Norway Rat


Actual Size: 16” long including the tail

Characteristics: Strong and thick bodies that are usually gray or reddish-gray to black in color.

Habits: Known to create long burrows following property lines, which can measure up to 6.5 feet in length. May also nest in basements or crawl spaces.

  • Also known as the “sewer” rat and are capable of transmitting serious diseases.
  • Has a hairy and short tail that is less than the length of their head and body combined.
  • Prefers to live in underground burrows, tunnels, or basements.

Norway Rats in Memphis TN Metro Area

Norway rats, characterized by their robust and heavy bodies, surpass their relatives, the roof rats or black rats, in size and aggressiveness. These rats are distributed across the entire United States and are classified as commensal rodents, meaning they thrive in close proximity to human settlements and rely on human habitats for their survival. While Norway rats exhibit an omnivorous diet and can consume a wide range of food, they have a preference for cereal grains, meats, fish, nuts, and certain fruits. Similar to most rodents, Norway rats are most active during the hour following sunset and just prior to dawn. Their gnawing behavior can result in significant damage to homes, gardens, and structures. Moreover, Norway rats serve as carriers of severe diseases, including jaundice, rat-bite fever, and salmonella.

Norway Rat Habitat

Norway rats are primarily ground-dwelling creatures and are known for their burrowing behavior. They construct burrows measuring around 2 to 3 inches in diameter and can extend up to 6.5 feet in length. These burrows are typically located outdoors, adjacent to foundations and gardens. Being nocturnal animals, Norway rats venture into homes during the nighttime to seek food, after which they return to their burrows. When nests are found within homes, they are commonly situated in basements and crawl spaces. In instances where the rat population is sizable, Norway rats may also establish nests in higher areas of a home or structure.

Norway Rat Behaviors, Threats, or Dangers

Norway rats possess the potential to cause damage to various structures and areas. Their burrowing and gnawing behaviors can result in harm to foundations, slabs, garden crops, and plants as they search for food and shelter. When Norway rats establish nests within walls and attics of homes, significant damage can occur. Incidents of rodents igniting fires by gnawing on electrical wires have been widely documented. Exposed and chewed wires inside walls can spark, leading to the ignition of interior walls. In their quest for sustenance, Norway rats consume and contaminate food intended for humans, pets, and livestock. This poses a risk of spreading numerous diseases, including salmonella, leptospirosis, and rat-bite fever, among others.

If you have a Norway rat infestation in your Memphis TN Metro Area property, always contact a licensed rodent control company.