The brown rat, also known as the Norway rat, is one of the most prolific animals around the world, and a pest in most places. It has a number of different names, depending on where in the world you find them, and are sometimes called the wharf rat, street rat, Parisian rat, sewer rat, common rat, Norwegian rat, or Hanover rat. Whatever you would like to call it, one thing is true: you certainly don’t want them hanging around anywhere near to your residential or commercial building.

Are brown rats or black rats bigger?

You’ll usually know whether you have a problem with black or brown rats. The Norway rat, or brown rat, is considerably bigger than the ‘black’ version, and sometimes close to double the length and weight. You’re also more likely to come up against a brown rat than you are a black rat. The latter has been pushed out of the central and more mainland area by it’s brown cousin, and the brown rat is the biggest bully of the two.

Although we call them brown rats, they aren’t actually always brown. There is very often more of a grey-tinge to the brownness, and some of them can look very dark, almost black. The fur on the underside of the animal is generally a lot lighter than the fur on the top of the body, and the tail is also not only hairless, but a lighter color than the rest of the animal.

Female brown rats, particularly the darker-colored ones, can be confused with the black rat because they are smaller in size than male brown rats.

What does the brown rat eat?

Both brown and black rats are renowned for eating anything that could even be perceived as edible, including a few things that we would most definitely wrinkle our noses up at. (Such as dog feces, leftovers found floating around in sewers, food that has started to grow mould in the garbage bag, etc.)

Brown rats seem to love grains and grain-based foods a lot, and the cereal boxes in your kitchen are often one of the first-hit areas when the rodent moves into your home. It’s easy for them to get to, too. With many boxes of cereal simply made up of a cardboard box and thin plastic, it doesn’t take very long for the rodent to chew through it. Even cereal boxes in cupboards are not safe — if there is even the slightest small hole, the rat will chew at it to make it bigger and then finally squeeze through.

Grains aren’t the only food that these rodents will go after, however; they are scavengers and will, therefore, eat pretty much everything, moldy or not. In one sense, these rodents are handy to have around, because they clean up messes left behind by other animals. When a larger predator leaves behind a prey animal with some meat left on it, for example, the rats will turn up and finish off the job. They will eat until there is no more edible matter left, and only then will the remains be walked away from.

If we did not have rats and other scavengers, the world would be filled with dead carcasses of other other animals.

Being omnivores, scavengers, and opportunistic feeders, there really isn’t very much that rats won’t eat. Most plant material will offer nutrition when insects and other smaller mammals, including mice, aren’t available, and that puts pretty much your entire back garden at risk. Young rabbits will also come under attack, as well young chicks and eggs, chickens (as a result of going after the chicks and eggs), fish, amphibians, and even young farmyard animals, such as newborn lambs.

How much does the brown rat eat?

Rats eat an incredible amount of food, but it won’t just be one rat eating it all; it’ll be a big group of rats eating through whatever they find, and they might even steal some for later consumption, too. There is some evidence to show that certain groups of rats will steal and stash food, much in the same way that a squirrel does, helping to keep the group alive for longer when that food source then runs out. When food is hard to come by, storing some for later on is a great way of ensuring that the animal doesn’t starve to death.

Where will you find brown rats in America?

This rat is found all over the globe, not just in America, and are commonly find in all the places that you can find people. It is the leftovers, food, and mess that the rats wait for — they are essentially just cleaning up after us.

Brown rats tend to like the cooler climates more than they like dry, hot, arid habitats, but there is such a thing as too cold. You are very unlikely to encounter a rat in super cold areas, such as polar regions, and also in the really dry and arid places, such as hot deserts.

Once upon a time, when these rodents were still regularly found in rural areas (rather than the urban ones we associate them with today), they would have lived close to bodies of water, such as streams. The running water would have served many purposes — rats can swim pretty well, so they would have been able to use the waterway to escape predatory attacks; they can also use the water as a source of hydration; rats will eat amphibians and small fish, which a stream will have in abundance, alongside the insects that waterways attract.

Where do brown rats live in residential areas?

These days, it is far more common to encounter rats in areas where lots of people live. Garbage dumps, garbage cans and bags, dumpsters, and even sewer ways are all common places to find rats, usually with them tearing into the leftover food or waste matter.

Outdoor grains and farms are commonly hit, and you will also find them hanging around dumpsters outside restaurants and other food establishments. That can be even despite the restaurant’s best efforts to keep them at bay, too.

Wherever you will find people, you will also find rats, and this goes as far as in residential and commercial buildings. Many homes are infested with rats, even though the owners are not yet aware of it, and that’s the biggest reason why you should regularly and routinely inspect your home for signs of rats or rat damage.

Do brown rats or black rats have more babies?

Although both rat species are well-known for their staggering rate of reproduction, it is this one — the brown rat — that breeds faster. Brown rats do not have breeding/mating seasons like other animals do, instead breeding and mating year-round. They will breed faster when conditions are just right, however, and this will include spring, and also during the winter if they manage to find a cosy home with a steady source of food nearby.

Rats are also very clever in the sense that they speed up the rate of reproduction when the colony comes under attack. This may seem detrimental, but is a way of ensuring the species carries on, even when the majority of them are dying.

Essentially, brown rats breed all year long, and will speed up if the conditions are right, or if a load of them are being culled. That fact alone makes your life very difficult should you come up against an infestation.

Female rats are pregnant for a little over three weeks, and call fall pregnant straight away after giving birth. It is quite rare to have more than 15 litters in one year, but it can happen, and each of those litters contain anywhere from 5 to 15 pups. There have even been recorded litters of 20 baby rats and more.

Do brown rats hibernate or migrate?

Brown rats neither migrate or hibernate, but they do tone down the activity a little during the winter, just because it is too cold to enjoy anything. (We can totally relate, right?)

Although they will be less active, they will still be active, and you may even notice them more. The night is very cold during the winter in certain parts of America, and this will encourage the rodents to make use of the warmer daylight hours, perhaps sleeping a little more during the night (or, at least, staying in a warm nest a little more), and coming out more during the day to find food.

Are brown rats nocturnal?

Brown rats are nocturnal, but they are very commonly being seen out and about during the day. This could be for a number of reasons, but one of the biggest is because there is so much food on offer. Rats are programmed to jump at the chance to eat, and also to stash food for later on, too. When there is a steady source of food available, they will be more inclined to wake up during the day and steal from it.

Nest disruptions are another reason why rats are commonly seen during the day, rather than just during the night. That’s the downside to moving in right alongside us — we make a lot of noise and tend to disrupt nests of wild animals.

Although MOSTLY nocturnal, seeing a rat out and about during the day doesn’t mean it is sick or close to dying. It could just mean that someone has woken it up, or that it has found a good source of food that it wants to take advantage of.

What are the natural predators of a brown rat?

There are plenty of natural predators of the brown rat, including people, especially with poisons and traps. Vehicles are another common problem for rats, and a number of other pest animals too. Add to that various wild animals, depending on where the rat lives, including domesticated dogs and cats, stray dogs and cats, weasels and stoats, coyotes, foxes, wolves, snakes, birds of prey, and more. Many rats do not make it to more than a year old because of the natural predators listed above, and also because of disease, starvation, exposure, and other natural elements.

Rats that do make it to adulthood are usually quite large and intimidating, meaning that they are less likely to become prey as they get older.