Rats in your Home
In your home, if you see a rat, it is most likely to be the Norway (or Sewer) rat. Other rodents, like the Wood rat or wild mice, may be occasionally seen in the house, but rarely do they live there permanently. Norway rats usually build their nests in burrows, while roof rats seem to prefer trees, attics, or other above-ground sites. Rats are not as prolific breeders as some other rodents, and the size and number of litters varies with the habitat. Both extremely hot and cold climates will restrict breeding. Beware though, in mild climates a single female can raise up to 60 new rats per year, and new females are sexually mature in less than four months. Fortunately, in the wild, rats rarely live more than a single year.
Sometimes, litter size and frequency is affected by trapping and poisoning campaigns, and more often by available food and shelter. Young rats develop very rapidly, able to eat solid food within three weeks of birth.
Rats are very adept at navigating in the dark using all of their senses except sight. The long whiskers and guard hairs on the body help guide them. They usually range about 150 feet around the nest for food when they start feeding shortly after dusk. Young or weak rats are sometimes forced out of the nest and might be seen feeding during daylight. Rats are mostly omnivores (will eat anything) and will even eat dead and dying members of their own species. Norway rats are more likely to eat garbage, while roof rats prefer fresh plant foods, although either will eat anything if starving.
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