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Brown Rats: Identification, Prevention and Control

Mar 2, 2019 | EcoArmor

The common brown rat (rattus norvegicus), is also known as the Norway rat or sewer rat. According to many researchers, it is one of the most successful mammals on the planet. It has become widespread throughout the world and lives right alongside humans, especially in heavily populated urban environments. Here’s what you need to know about these rats and what you can do to prevent and control them.

Brown Rat Identification

Brown rats have blunt noses, small ears, and can be either brown or gray in color. It is quite a large species of rat with a head and body about 11 inches long and a tail that is slightly shorter than this length. It can weigh up to 18 oz, which is twice as much as the black rat (AKA roof rat). Another distinguishing characteristic between these two pest species is that the black rat’s tail is usually longer than its body length.



By AnemoneProjectors [CC BY-SA 2.0 (]


Brown Rat Behavior

The brown rat is an omnivore that will eat nearly anything, but grains are a large part of its diet. These rats are nocturnal and are great swimmers, climbers, and diggers. They mostly live underground in burrows, cellars, or sewer systems. Brown rats also live in large groups with a hierarchical social order.

Rats are known to carry many pathogens that can cause diseases like leptospirosis, salmonella, hantavirus, Q fever, and toxoplasmosis. These pathogens are most commonly passed through contact with their urine and feces. Rats can also cause major destruction to buildings and homes through their constant need to chew on things like electric wires, woodwork, plastic, and insulation.

Rat Prevention

Controlling rats may be more difficult than expected because of their rapid reproduction. The female brown rat only has a gestation of 21 days, and those pups can reach sexual maturity in a mere 5 weeks. In one year, a population of brown rats can grow from 2 to 15,000! Numbers like these are alarming, so it is understandable why prevention efforts are so important. Here are some things you can do to prevent rodent problems around your home or office.

  • Seal the exterior of your home and sheds
  • Keep your yard, garden, and other vegetation well groomed and tidy
  • Cover trash cans and compost piles
  • Keep wood piles away from your home and off the ground if possible
  • Don’t leave pet food and water out overnight
  • Make sure that your drain covers are functional and in good shape
  • Eliminate areas of excess water and fix leaky pipes or faucets

Rat Control

If you find yourself with a rat problem, there are a couple of things that can be done. If it still seems like a relatively small infestation, traps may work. Although there are humane, live catch traps available, they are generally not recommended because you then have the problem of what to do with the rat after it is caught. Typical “break back” traps are generally the preferred method. Bait the traps with something like peanut butter or chocolate and then set the trap perpendicular to the wall so that the spring travels toward the wall when it is tripped.

Along with traps, you can use rodenticide. This rat poison can come in pellets, grains, and wax blocks. Poisons need to be placed in a safe, secure place where children and pets are not going to have access to them. When using rodenticide, ensure that all label directions are followed.

For many people, it is safer and easier to hire a professional to help with their rat problems. Pest technicians are trained on how to identify the pest species, find possible entry points, and then safely eliminate the pest. If you need help with rodent control, EcoArmor pest control is ready to help. For pest control in Anna, TX, trust EcoArmor to get the job done right.


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