Think You Know Norway Rats?

Norway rats are thought to have originated around 650,000 years ago, likely in Asia. During that time, they have become absolute masters at finding our food, using our structures, and evading our defense mechanisms. Knowing how rodents think, how their behavior and biology works, can help deal with Norway rat issues faster. Ready to test your knowledge?

#1 – Norway rats are nocturnal.

True…for the most part. Norway rats are mostly nocturnal and their most active periods are just after dark and just before sunrise. This is their main foraging period and even at night, they tend to stick to darker, shadowed areas. If possible, particularly with difficult rat situations, it helps to inspect at night so you can see where they are running. Placing rodent stations, like the EZ Snap Rat Trap in those dark runways can increase capture rates.  The exception to this is when Norway rat populations are very high, the younger rats are forced to forage during the day because of competition from the older, adult, and usually male rats.

Norway rats are mostly nocturnal and their most active periods are just after dark and just before sunrise

#2 – Norway rats carried the plague, which we don’t have anymore

False… but sort of a technicality. It was the fleas, feeding on the rats that actually carried the plague from rats to humans. Also, the plague still exists. In the US, we have an average of nine cases per year, mostly in the west. Norway rats do carry many other diseases including the ability to transfer around food borne diseases. Keeping rats out of food establishments can reduce the risk and the EZ Secured Bait Stations can keep outside populations lower.

An average of nine cases of the plague a year are reported in the US.

#3 – Norway rats are neophobic and fear new things

True… mostly. It’s been generally accepted that Norway rats are scared of new “stuff” that appears in their habitat. They stick to their established pathways, their well-known food sources, and their comfortable burrows. Unless they are disturbed. This is why it’s important to pre-bait traps and bait stations if there is time. Leaving snap traps unset with food bait encourages rats to become used to them in their space and investigate them. Another benefit to pre-baiting is that you can see which traps are getting activity: you can set those traps and put more traps in those areas since there is more activity there. The exception to this neophobia is in populated urban areas. Researchers are finding those Norway rats much less neophobic than their rural cousins.

Researchers are finding urban Norway rats much less neophobic than their rural ones.

#4 – Norway rats only live for one year

True…sort of. Norway rats in the lab can live much longer. Norway rats in the environment are subject to food scarcity, traps, bait stations, native predators, competition, weather conditions, and much more. Most estimates put the average life span of a rat at about a year. In situations where there is ample food source, good habitat, and little to no predators (including human predators!), they can live longer. To shorten a rat’s lifespan, sanitation, exclusion, and plenty of traps and bait stations will help. Good sanitation can drive rats to bait stations like the EZ Klean because they are the only food source in the rats’ area.

Most estimates put the average life span of a rat at about a year

#5 – Norway rats are poor swimmers

False. Norway rats are great swimmers. A study in the Falkland Islands, as they were trying to eradicate rats from the islands showed that rats would swim at least 250m (820ft) to recolonize islands. In addition, rats need a daily source of water to drink. This means that rats are in search of not just food, but also water. In areas that water is scarce, stations can be set near those water sources to capture thirsty rodents. Where water is plentiful, sometimes reducing those water sources can drive rats to investigate new areas and encounter stations. When floods occur, rodents will swim to dry land which is often a customer’s structure.

Norway rats are great swimmers

Don’t let rodents outsmart you! Consider their food and water needs, when and where they are foraging, and how they move. Thinking like the Norway rat can lead to better trap and rat bait station placement and faster resolution of rodent issues. For more on rodent control and rodent control products, contact VM Products here.

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