Rats, especially the Norway rat, have coexisted with humans throughout the ages – though rats benefit from this more than humans do.

Where humans go, Norway rats go too, following our food, water, and shelter. If you know anything about the plague or other rodent diseases, you know that rats can cause serious problems for humans.

Rats continue to impact how humans live their lives, including right here in Baltimore, MD. If you aren’t vigilant, a rat problem in your Baltimore home can cause many problems. Here’s all you need to know about Norway rats and how to prevent them.

Norway Rat Identification Guide

Norway rats are very common in Maryland, especially during the winter.

Like other rodents, Norway rats have long, furry bodies, four legs, and small pinkish paws. Although they can vary in size and color, they are notably bigger than mice. Norway rats grow to around 11 inches in length, have muddy brown coats, and are more roundly shaped than other rats.

Norway rats are considered some of the largest rodents in Maryland. If you think the mouse in your house is uncommonly large, it’s probably a Norway rat.

Signs of a Norway Rat Problem

Unlike other pests, such as cockroaches, Norway rats tend to make their presence known. If you spot the following signs, you may be dealing with a Norway rat infestation.

  • Droppings: Norway rat droppings are dark brown and capsule-shaped. Finding these droppings around your home, especially in areas like attics, basements, or near food sources, indicates a rat infestation.
  • Gnaw Marks: Rats have strong teeth and tend to gnaw on various materials to keep them from growing too long. Look for gnaw marks on wood, plastic, and even electrical wiring.
  • Nesting Materials: Norway rats build nests using materials like shredded paper, fabric, and plant matter. Discovering nests in hidden areas such as wall voids or burrows suggests a rat problem.
  • Holes and Burrows: Rats are adept at creating burrows and holes to access food sources and shelter. Check for openings in walls, foundations, or outdoor areas. Norway rats typically don’t travel more than 300 feet from a nest or burrow.
  • Scratching Sounds: Rats are nocturnal creatures, so you may hear scratching or scurrying noises in walls or ceilings during the night.
  • Distinctive Odor: Norway rats have a musky odor. If you detect a persistent, unpleasant smell in confined spaces, it could be a sign of a rat infestation.
  • Visible Rats: In some cases, you may actually see rats moving around, especially during the evening. If you spot one rat, there’s likely a larger population nearby.

Problems Associated With Norway Rats

Norway rats, like other rodents, cause two types of problems: home damage and disease.

Rats are your property’s worst enemy. These pests make nests out of the structures in your home, chewing through wood, wires, plastic, and insulation. The repairs from Norway rat damage can cost thousands of dollars and ruin your property value if not remedied in time.

Norway rats can also spread some awful illnesses. Rats vector diseases such as leptospira, Bartonella, salmonella, hantavirus, and the bubonic plague. These pathogens are spread in the following ways:

  • Eating your food. A Norway rat in the pantry contaminates your entire food supply.
  • Urine and feces. Rodents leave droppings wherever they walk, making your entire property a hazard.
  • Walking around. Norway rats spread disease simply by existing in your house. The longer they remain, the greater the risk of infection.

Finally, Norway rats can also spread parasites, like fleas and ticks, which also carry their own set of diseases and problems. Norway rats have no place in your Baltimore property. So, how can you keep them out?

Norway Rat Prevention Tips

Keeping Norway rats out doesn’t have to be time-consuming. Your best bet is to make your house as unattractive to Norway rats (and other rodents) as possible.

Rats are attracted to two things in your Baltimore home: clutter and food. If your house has a lot of junk or mess, including piles of clothes or trash, Norway rats might camp out and start their nests there – especially if they have access to the trash or pantry.

How to Get Rid of Norway Rats

Eliminating Norway rats can certainly be accomplished DIY with a few traps and bait stations. However, when mice traps no longer work, you’ll need to resort to other measures, such as using essential oils, eliminating food sources, or calling in a professional.

When to Call in the Experts

Despite these prevention efforts, Norway rats can still enter your Baltimore home. Because they can fit into tiny holes and reproduce quickly, rats can easily infest properties throughout Maryland. A rodent population will certainly grow faster than you can get rid of them, and poisons or traps will never act quickly enough.

If you find that a Norway rat has made its nest in your home, you need your local pest experts to remove it for you. Contact Baltimore’s local rat experts at Pest Czar, and we’ll make sure these furry pests never spread damage and diseases throughout your home.

FAQs: Norway Rats

What attracts Norway rats to a property?

Norway rats are attracted to properties with easily accessible food sources, water, and shelter. Properly storing food, sealing trash cans, and eliminating standing water can help deter them.

How do I identify Norway rat droppings?

Norway rat droppings are dark brown and capsule-shaped. They are larger than mouse droppings, measuring around 0.5 to 0.75 inches in length.

Can I use essential oils to repel rats?

While some essential oils may have repellent properties, they are generally less effective than other proven methods. Peppermint oil is often suggested, but professional pest control measures are more reliable for rat prevention.