Rodents: What You May Not Want to Know, but Should (Part 3 of 6)

MYTH:  Rodents won’t eat poison baits if their regular food is around.

FACT:   Modern rodenticide bait products are made to be particularly attractive and palatable to rodents.  They can compete with most alternate food products, especially if put in a protected location where rats and mice feel secure in feeding.  The results of rodenticide bating can be improved if other food materials can be reduced.

Kaukeinen, Dale E.  “(More) Myths about Rodents.” Pest Management Professional May 2008: Vol. 76 No. 5.  Print.

Last week we blogged about the House mouse.  This week we want to introduce the Norway rat.

[The following information is taken in part from Truman’s Scientific Guide to Pest Management Operations, Sixth Edition]

The Norway Rat

The Norway rat is also known as the house rat, brown rat, wharf rat, sewer rat, water rat, and gray rat.  It was introduced into the United States by European settlers and trading ships in about 1775.  It is now the most widely distributed rat species in the United States, being found in all the states (in parts of some states, however, the roof rat is more prevalent).  The Norway rat is larger, stronger, and more aggressive, and better adapted for producing young and surviving in colder climates than the roof rat and other rat species.

The adult Norway rat has a stocky body, weighing about 12 to 16 ounces.  Rats slightly heavier than this do occur (people often claim to see—and boast of—“rats as big as alley cats”) but are rare.  The body fur is coarse and ranges from reddish- to grayish-brown with buff-white under parts, but many color variations exist including black Norway rats.  The nose is blunt, the ears are small, close set, and do not reach the eye when pulled down.  The tail is scaly, semi-naked and shorter than the head and body combined.

Indoors, the Norway rat may breed all year long, although breeding peaks are normally in the spring and fall of the year.  In outdoor colonies, breeding decreases significantly during the hot summers and cold winters.

In captivity, rats may live for three or more years, but the average wild rat lives for only 5 to 12 months.  Many wild rats are killed by predators, other rats, people, or they die of disease or stress before they are one year old.

Bennett, Gary W., Owens, John M., Corrigan, Robert M. Truman’s Scientific Guide to Pest Management Operations, Sixth ed. Cleveland:  Advanstar Communications, Inc. 2005.  Print.

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