Rat Control and Information

Norway Rat – Rattus norvegicus

Description of Appearance

  • Combined head & body Length: 200 – 270mm
  • Average weight: 250-500g. (Max 700 gms)
  • Coarse brown (occasionally black) fur, with a pale underside.
  • Tails are 150 – 210 mm.
  • Blunt nose, small ears, heavy body with a tail shorter than the head and body.
  • Blunt nose, small ears with a tail shorter than the head and body.


  • Norway Rats are sexually mature at: 8 – 12 weeks.
  • Gestation period: 21 – 24 days.
  • Litter size (average): 6 – 11.
  • Weaning period: 3 – 4 weeks.
  • Norway Rats can live up to 18 months in the wild, but 3 – 4 years domestically.

Habits & Behaviour

  • Norway Rats are very adaptable and can be found in a variety of habitats, usually in close conjunction with humans. Burrowing, but sometimes climbing they are the only species to occur in UK sewers.
  • Norway Rats are omnivorous eating fish, vegetables, weeds, earthworms, nuts and fruit, but prefer protein-rich foods, such as cereals. They will eat around 30g of food a day and drink 60ml.
  • Norway Rats are typically nocturnal, although they will sometimes forage for food during the day if colonies become too over populated.
  • Norway Rats live in loose colonies, made up of aggregations of clans – usually defending their territory from other rats – the biggest rats are dominant over their smaller counterparts.
  • Norway Rats swim well and are sometimes mistaken for water voles. They have well-developed senses of hearing and smell.


  • To look out for holes, droppings, smear marks and unpleasant smells as these are signs a building maybe being used as a run.
  • Rats are subject to persistent pest control due to the damage they cause and the numerous diseases they spread.
  • Along with house mice, they are considered to be the most widespread terrestrial mammal.

Ship Rat – Rattus rattus

Description of Appearance

  • Combined head & body Length: 150 – 220 mm.
  • Ship Rats’ average weight: 100 – 300g.
  • Ship Rats are originally black but are mostly brown in tropical parts of the world.
  • Tails are 180 – 250 mm.
  • Ship Rats have large eyes, slender bodies with a tail longer than the head and body.


  • Ship Rats are sexually mature at: 12 – 16 weeks.
  • Gestation period: 21 – 22 days.
  • Litter size (average): 6 – 10.
  • Weaning period: 3 – 4 weeks.

Habits & Behaviour

  • Ship rats are rare in the UK. Their appearances are mainly confined to ports.
  • Ship rats are agile and climb well. They rarely burrow and are rarely seen outdoors in the UK
  • Ship rats’ preferred food is moist fruits.
  • Preferred food is moist fruits.
  • Ship rats will eat around 15g of food a day and drink 15ml

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