The Norway rat is the primary rat pest of homes and buildings in most urban and suburban areas in the US. New York City is commonly assumed to have the worst rat pest issues in the country, but a recent study found that rat infestation rates may be higher in Chicago and Los Angeles. This study also revealed that rat pest issues are particularly common throughout the entire state of New York, as a total of six cities in the state were found to be among the top 50 most rat-infested metropolitan areas in the US. In addition to the Big Apple, these rat-heavy urban areas in New York state include Buffalo, Albany, Burlington, Rochester and Syracuse.
Just like house mice, Norway rats live in close association within humans, and when they are not inhabiting structures, they are excavating ground burrows beneath foundations, beneath concrete slabs, in flower beds, near small bodies of water, in garbage dumps, and any other area where food and water is plentiful. Norway rats will eat just about anything, but they prefer fresh foods over stale foods, which motivates them to invade pantries and kitchen cupboards where they will not hesitate to gnaw their way into food packages. These rats are partial to cereal grains, meats and fish, nuts, and certain fruits.
Norway rats are largely nocturnal, and they remain within wall voids, attic spaces, and other well-hidden indoor areas during the day before emerging to collect food sources at night when they are not likely to be noticed by humans. The Food and Drug Administration categorizes Norway rats as a public health threat due to the pathogens they transport into human settings from filthy areas, such as sewers, compost piles, horse stables and septic tanks. The pathogens commonly found on the exterior bodies of Norway rat specimens are known to cause 35 human diseases, including cholera, Salmonella, E. coli, and even the plague. Any stored foods that Norway rats have contaminated or may have contaminated should be promptly discarded.
Have you ever found rat fecal pellets within your kitchen?