Types of Rats

In order to correctly treat any home for a rat infestation, it is crucial to identify the species of rat that has infiltrated the property.

Ehrlich Pest Control technicians have received training to correctly identity rodent species, including different types of rats. Norway rats and roof rats are the most commonly encountered rat species in the United States. Depending on the species and the severity of the infestation, Ehrlich technicians will employ a variety of different treatment methods, including rodent proofing, bait traps and rodenticides.

No Obligation Rat Inspections 

Contact Ehrlich Pest Control online or call us at to arrange a free pest inspection with one of our state-certified technicians. We will set up an inspection of your home at a time that suits your schedule. A technician knowledgeable in rodent behavior in your local area will visit your home to assess the infestation. 

Differences Between Roof Rats & Norway Rats

How To Identify Rats

There are several ways to determine if you have a Roof rat or Norway rat on or in your property. Since both rats are typically shy in nature, it may be difficult to get a good look at them. However, their physical appearances are different.

The main characteristic used to differentiate a roof rat from a Norway rat is the length of the tail. If stretched over the back of the Norway rat, its tail will just reach the ears. In roof rats, the stretched tail will extend beyond the nose.

Roof rats also have larger ears and a pointier nose than Norway rats. However, the two species need to be compared side by side to see those two characteristics.

Roof Rats are sleek in appearance. They have pointed snouts, large prominent eyes, and are typically gray to black in color. 

The Norway Rat is thicker in body size, have blunted snouts, small eyes, and are brown in color.

Another way to help you identify if you have a roof rat or brown rat is to locate their nests.

Rats Commonly Found In Homes

In the United States,  Norway Rats (Brown Rats) and Roof Rats (Black Rats) are the most common types of rats that invade residential properties. 

Norway Rat / Brown Rat (Rattus norvegicus)

Norway Rat (Rattus norvegicus)

In most regions of North America, Norway rats (also known as brown rats or sewer rats) are the most common rat species that infiltrate properties. Norway rats prefer to nest around lower floors of a building. However, if there is a larger population, or an area allows, they can live in attics, above ceilings, or upper floors.

Their nests may be found in wall voids, underneath floors, crawl spaces, and even furniture. Nests are mostly built using soft materials such as paper, cloth, leaves, grass, etc.

  • Length of head and body ranges from 7-9.5 inches
  • Weight ranges from 7-18 ounces
  • Preferable food sources include fish, meat and cereal
  • Will travel as far as 150 feet from their harborage

Roof Rat / Black Rat (Rattus rattus)

Roof Rat (Rattus rattus)

The Roof rat (also commonly referred to as black rat or ship rat) is appropriately named because they often live in “roof” areas of houses or structures. 

They have the ability to climb and will use various methods to travel through a neighborhood – overhead utility lines or fences. Roof rats will forage in groups as large as 10 rats and will be attracted to any available food near buildings. 

As is the case with Norway rats, roof rats are known to spread diseases such as Salmonella and Weil’s Disease via their urine and droppings.

You may find these rats nesting in your trees, bushes, or even in the attic of your home.

  • Length of head body ranges from 6-8 inches
  • Weight ranges from 5-9 ounces
  • Preferable food sources include berries, fruits and seeds
  • A roof rat can squeeze through a gap in a building great than a ½ inch

For more information on different types of rats and on how to prevent rat infestations in your home, set up a free pest inspection, by giving Ehrlich a call at

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