One of the most common pests throughout North America, the Norway rat is large, adaptable, and incredibly damaging to homes and structures.
Worse still, Norway rats and their feces can carry serious diseases. So, how do you identify, get rid of, and prevent a Norway rat infestation? That’s what we’re here to find out.
What Is A Norway Rat?
Norway rats are large rodents common throughout the United States.
The Norway rat goes by many names. Also known as the brown rat, common rat, street rat, sewer rat, Norwegian rat, Parisian rat, Hanover rat, or wharf rat, the Norway rat is an invasive species to the United States and is believed to have originated in Asia.
It was dispersed throughout the world via human travel, most likely finding its way to the United States through ships importing goods.
The Norway rat is considered one of the most common rodent pests dealt with in urban and suburban environments. They are also a common pest amongst agricultural buildings like barns and farms.
Like most rodents, Norway rats are synonymous with filth and unsanitary conditions, though your home doesn’t have to be unclean for Norway rats to make themselves comfortable there.
In fact, these rats typically live outside in burrows nearby one another and generally only invade homes in the fall and winter, when weather gets cold and food and water become scarce.
Because these pests are social animals, they can invade homes in large numbers. Worse, female Norway rats may even make burrows in your home and birth babies there, with one female Norway rat capable of birthing up to three to six litters of young in a single year.
Norway rats are larger than some of their other rat counterparts, ranging in size from 7 to 9.5 inches in length. They are often brown with black or gray hairs, and a white or gray belly. Unlike its roof rat counterpart, who is known for his soft and glossy fur, the Norway rat has rough fur that is described as bristly.
His body is generally long and thick, and he has a short, stubby muzzle. Despite this, the Norway rat is capable of fitting into cracks and crevices no larger than a quarter.
Though they don’t have a long lifespan in the wild, (up to two years, in most cases), a Norway rat infestation could easily get out of control in the right conditions.
Let’s learn more.
Identifying A Norway Rat Problem
Norway rats are nocturnal, which means you’ll likely hear them in your walls at night going to and from their burrows.
There are many types of rodents who infest our homes, but the Norway rat leaves some telltale signs of his presence.
You may have a Norway rat in your home if you notice:
Pets Behaving Oddly
Because of their keen senses, dogs and cats generally pick up on invading Norway rats before we humans do. If you notice your pets behaving oddly, take a moment and pay attention. Pets will commonly act distressed if a rat is living in your walls.
They may claw, chew or paw at a certain area in the home. Some pets whine or hide, while others behave erratically and have trouble sitting still.
Strange Noises In Your Walls At Night
Norway rats are nocturnal and spend their nights foraging for food and building burrows. If they are inside your walls at night, you’ll likely hear them rummaging around and going in and out of their runways.
Norway Rat Droppings
Norway rats have distinct droppings with blunt ends. Roof rats, on the other hand, have droppings with pointed ends. Norway rat droppings are also larger, and the size and shape of a grain of rice.
A Foul Odor
Because Norway rats are social animals, they tend to make burrows near one another. This can lead to an accumulation of urine and feces, which will quickly begin to smell. If you notice a foul odor in a particular area of your home and have discovered other signs of the Norway rat above, it’s time to work on a game plan to get rid of them.
Oily Residue or Gnaw Marks
Last, an oily residue along with rough gnaw marks are a common sign of Norway rats. These pests are naturally oily and leave greasy marks in their runways, which are the routes they repetitively use to get in and out of their burrows.
You will commonly find these markings anywhere rats have been, including but not limited to your homes’ siding, near the roof, along the porch, in laundry rooms, behind appliances, and even in pantries where food is stored.
Why Are Norway Rats Attracted To Your Property?
Norway rats tend to live outdoors until fall, where they seek shelter, food and warmth from inside.
Like most pests, Norway rats are attracted to food sources, shelter and water. While they live happily outside during the spring and summer, they tend to make their way inside homes once the temperatures cool.
They prefer homes surrounded by lots of vegetation, which makes going to and from their burrow safer for them.
Norway rats are also omnivores, meaning they eat anything from plant matter to animal material, including:
- Dog food
- Livestock feed
- And More
Because of their diverse diet, Norway rats can be particularly problematic if they get into homes. While they are color blind and somewhat clumsy, they have a keen sense of smell and taste and are able to find and get to food in difficult areas.
So, how do you get rid of these pests once you know you have them? Let’s find out.
How To Get Rid Of A Norway Rat Using Repellents
Norway rats have heightened senses and can be repelled using sensory repellents like smells and sounds.
One of the best ways to get rid of a Norway rat infestation is to make your home less hospitable to them. We recommend using repellents like ultrasonic pest repellers and other methods that are safe for people and pets, but annoying to rodents like Norway rats.
Many of the repellents you can use to get rid of a Norway rat infestation are most effective when used in conjunction with other methods like traps or poisons, which we will talk about further down.
For now, let’s take a look at some of our favorite Norway rat repellent products below.
TBI Pro Ultrasonic Sound Repellent
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Many people find that ultrasonic sound repellents like the TBI Pro listed above work well to repel a number of pests from Norway rats to roaches, spiders, ants and more. These products work by emitting ultrasonic sound waves and vibrations through walls and floors that irritate and repel rodents and insects.
Ultrasonic sound repellents are safe to use in homes with people and pets and often go unnoticed by humans, dogs and cats. However, in a very large Norway rat infestation, you may need to use this method in conjunction with other products like traps, poisons or baits.
Harris Peppermint Oil Rodent Repellent Spray
The overwhelming smell of peppermint oil is often enough to drive rodents like the Norway rat out of your home, which is why we have listed Harris Peppermint Oil Repellent Spray above. This spray is a natural, humane, and safe way to get rid of and repel pests like rats and mice from your home.
Peppermint oil can also repel other pests including spiders, ants, roaches and even bed bugs. The product is child and pet safe and can be used in homes, in cars, on boats, buses and even outdoors.
How To Get Rid Of A Norway Rat Using Poisons
Do your research before deciding if a rat poison for Norway rats is right for you, as they can be quite dangerous and sometimes in humane.
Rat poisons are commonly used in large rat infestations, though there is a risk when using this remedy for Norway rat control.
Most rodenticides contain harsh toxic chemicals that are extremely dangerous and even deadly to people and pets. When using any type of poison for Norway rat control, it is best to do so carefully. Use these products only as directed and certainly keep them out of reach of children and pets.
Below are some of the most commonly used poisons for Norway rats for you to consider. Take a look.
Just One Bite Rat Poison
The above rodenticide is made by Farnam and contains 8 individually wrapped rodenticide poisons. This is an ideal rodenticide if you’re having problems with Norway rats in an agricultural structure like a barn, equestrian center, or farm.
As the name suggests, it often takes Norway rats one feeding to consume a lethal dose of the poison and die. However, death does not happen immediately and could take up to five days.
This product can kill Norway rats, roof rats, and house mice, but it must be used carefully and only as directed. It is especially important to note that this product states it is for agricultural use only. Make sure you understand the rules and regulations of your region before purchasing this rodenticide for use in residential homes or buildings.
Victor Fast Kill Poison Bait Station
To better manage Norway rats in the home, we recommend using a poison and bait station combo. This is much safer for people and pets in the home and often more effective when it comes to monitoring a rat infestation indoors.
This product contains a refillable bait station that is equipped to lure and kill house mice and Norway rats. It is also child resistant and even includes a glove for safe refills. The order comes with eight baits, but you can buy more if needed.
How To Get Rid Of A Norway Rat Using Traps
Rat traps come in many forms from snap traps to catch and release traps.
There are several different types of rat traps you can use for a Norway rat infestation inside or outside of your home, and these traps include snap traps, catch and release traps and even baited poison traps.
The type of trap you choose to use will depend on your situation and the severity of your infestation. That said, when using lethal traps for Norway rats, we suggest using them only as directed and keeping them out of reach of children and pets, especially if these lethal traps are baited with any rat poison.
Not sure which rat traps work best for a Norway rat infestation? Don’t worry, we have listed some of the best rat traps for you to consider below.
BARLAS Duel Entry Rat Trap
The above rat trap is a lethal trap that is humane and designed to work indoor and outdoor for a Norway rat infestation.
This product kills rats quickly, allowing you to monitor and remove them effectively from your home. The trap is also enclosed, so it is safe for pets and children who might otherwise get curious and hurt themselves.
You can purchase the trap in orders of one or two depending on your needs, and supply it with bait like peanut butter or even poison baits if you choose.
Authenzo Rat Trap
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These Authenzo Rat Traps provide six rat traps in one order for larger infestations of Norway rats both inside and outside the home. These traps are lethal snap traps but work quickly to humanely kill the rats without making them suffer.
They are safe to use in homes with children and pets, though their placement should be strategic to keep curious kiddos and animals from getting hurt.
Kensizer Small Animal Live Trap
If you prefer a catch and release method for your Norway rat problem, you can try the Kensizer Live Trap. This trap is designed for small animals like mice, rats, moles, voles and squirrels.
You can use it both inside and out to capture and relocate rodent pests like Norway rats. Just note that this trap should be checked routinely to ensure any animals caught do not die of dehydration, starvation or exposure in the trap, especially if you’re attempting to relocate them.
If you do relocate the rats, make sure you relocate them at least five miles away from your home so they will not be able to find their way back.
How To Get Rid Of A Norway Rat Using Home Remedies
Keep Norway rats out of your home using repellents like essential oils, mothballs, cayenne pepper and more.
Along with using repellents and traps, you can also implement some home remedies into your routine to further repel and prevent Norway rats.
Some of the best home remedies use ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen pantry or medicine cabinet, and many of them are safe to use around people and pets. Best of all, these home remedies are inexpensive and effective.
Take a look!
Essential Oils That Repel Norway Rats
Many do it yourself pest control experts use essential oils to get rid of pests like Norway rats. Essential oils tend to work well due to their overwhelming scent, which people love but pests hate. Norway rats especially are highly sensitive to smell, which makes the use of essential oils especially effective against them.
Some of the best essential oils you an use to get rid of the Norway rat include:
- Eucalyptus Oil
- Peppermint Oil
- Lemon Oil
- Tea Tree Oil
- Cedarwood Oil
- And Clove Oil
Essential oils can be used in a variety of ways to repel and get rid of a Norway rat problem. One way is to saturate cotton balls in the essential oil of your choice. Leave these soaked cotton balls around your home and in areas Norway rats might frequent like basements, crawl spaces, attics, laundry rooms, and in pantries.
You should replace these cotton balls once every two to three days with freshly soaked cotton balls in order for them to be effective
You can also make your own essential oil rodent repellent spray using 10 to 20 drops of the essential oil of your choice and mixing it with two cups of water. Spray this solution around your home and near entry points to repel potential pests like Norway rats, roaches, mice, spiders and ants.
Mothballs were designed to repel clothes moths and protect garments and bedding, but they work well to repel a number of other pests from insects to rodents. Simply place moth balls around your home in areas you wish to keep Norway rats at bay.
However, keep in mind that mothballs do contain a toxic chemical called naphthalene that can be toxic to people and pets if ingested.
Cayenne Pepper Or Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
Because Norway rats are so sensitive to smells and tastes, you can use spices like cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper to repel them. Sprinkle some of the above spices along entry points around your home and in attics, basements, crawlspaces and pantries. This will help keep out a number of rodents including mice and rats.
Ammonia and Laundry Detergent Norway Rat Repellent Recipe
Ammonia is a strong smelling chemical that can help repel rats while also masking the scent of any foods or garbage that might attract them.
To make your own Ammonia and laundry detergent repellent, you will need:
- One bowl
- 1 quarter of water
- Two tsps of laundry detergent
- 2 cups of ammonia
Mix the above solution into a bowl and leave the bowl out in the open in areas where Norway rats might frequent. You can also combine the solution in a spray bottle and use it as a masking spray over outdoor garbage cans.
Of course, ammonia and laundry detergent can be harmful to people and pets, and may even be harmful to plant life, so be careful where you use this repellent method for Norway rats.
Instant Potato Norway Rat Killer
Norway rats eat almost anything, and they like starchy foods like potatoes. For this reason, instant potatoes make a great and safe rat poison, as it entices the Norway rat to eat it and then expands in the rat’s stomach upon drinking water, later killing it.
However, this method should be used with caution. If Norway rats have burrowed into your walls and you kill them using instant potatoes, you could wind up with dead rats in your walls which could lead to an entire list of new problems for you.
Are Norway Rats Dangerous To People, Pets or Structures?
Norway rats carry a number of diseases and can even cause serious structural damage to homes and buildings.
Norway rats cause multiple problems when they get into homes, with one of the most concerning being structural damage. They can gnaw through most anything including plastic, lead, and wood, leading to serious issues for homeowners that can be both dangerous and expensive.
Some Norway rats may even chew through electrical wires while making their burrows, which can lead to house fires.
Not only are Norway rats destructive, they can also carry serious diseases. Norway rats have been known to transmit diseases like rat bite fever, jaundice, trichinosis, E. Coli, Salmonellosis, cowpox virus and more.
Due to the serious dangers a large Norway rat infestation can entail, it’s very important to contact a professional if you cannot get rid of the rats on your own. Professional pest control experts generally charge between $100 and $500 for Norway rat removal depending on your location and the severity of your infestation.
Once they have helped you eliminate the rats, your next focus should be on taking preventative steps to keep these pests from returning.
How To Prevent A Future Norway Rat Infestation
Don’t leave food including fruits and veggies outside, as this can attract Norway rats.
Most people find that preventing pests like Norway rats is easier and less expensive than getting rid of them. Luckily, there are plenty of steps you can take to keep Norway rats from becoming a problem again in your home.
Practice Routine Home Maintenance Inside and Outside Of Your Home
Norway rats generally live outdoors until it becomes cold, at which point they will look for ways into your home. Remember, these pests can get into your home through openings as small as a quarter, so to prevent them from having easy access to your home, keep up on home maintenance.
Repair ripped screens and make sure doors and windows shut securely. Fix any gaps between doors and caulk and seal cracks or crevices along your foundation. Check on vents and other potential openings around your home to ensure these potential entry points are secure, and repair any damage done to your roof, chimney, or attic.
Keep Vegetation at Least Six Feet From Your Siding
Most pests find it easier to get into homes that are surrounded by lots of vegetation including trees, shrubs and even ornamental plants. Vegetation offers plenty of hiding places to pests, allows them to get close to your home, and even hides potential vulnerabilities in your home’s siding you may not be aware of.
To keep Norway rats and other pests from getting too close to your home, keep vegetation at least six feet from your home’s perimeter. This may mean you’ll need to even trim back a few tree branches, but in the long run it might be worth it.
Keep Food and Garbage Properly Sealed
Keep pantry foods properly stored in air tight containers made of glass or thick plastic. Don’t leave fruits and veggies out on the counter to get overly ripe, and store perishable foods in the refrigerator when you aren’t eating or cooking.
Along with storing foods properly, try and refrain from leaving dirty dishes on the counter or in the sink overnight. This can help reduce your chances of a rodent infestation as well as other pest infestations like roaches and ants.
Keep Your Home and Yard Tidy
Remove debris and clutter both inside and outside your home to reduce potential hiding places for Norway rats and other pests. It’s also a good idea to clean often using quality cleaning products, and to vacuum and sweep routinely.
Invite the Predators To Your Yard
Norway rats have a number of natural predators and will often avoid properties where these predators frequent. You can use predator decoys to help repel Norway rats or even invite the real deal.
Some of the best predators for Norway rats include:
- Owls, Hawks and Other Birds of Prey
- Large Snakes
- And Coyotes
Use A Quality Rat Repellent Year Round
Last, we suggest that you continue to use a quality rodent repellent year round, even after you’ve managed to get rid of the pests. This can help prevent any future rodents from becoming a problem and may also help prevent you from dealing with other problem rodents as well.
We hope this has been a helpful guide on how to get rid of a Norway rat infestation. Thanks for reading and best of luck!
Jack founded our blog after two decades of working in the pest control industry. His vast experience dealing with a wide array of pests allows him to diagnose issues quickly and get to the heart of pest problems quickly and effectively. He has serviced more than 2,000 homes over his career and there is hardly any pest situation that he has not seen before.