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What Does a Rat Look Like

What Does a Rat Look Like


  • Rats are found on every continent around the world except Antarctica.
  • These pests can survive on just an ounce of food and water per day.
  • Researchers often use rats to study human behavior because rodents learn quickly.


Picture of Norway Rat what does a rat look like

A rat is about 15 inches long with a hairless tail that is slightly shorter than its body. These rodents have bald ears and brown fur peppered with bits of black or red. They are stocky and weigh around one pound. Male rats are slightly larger than females.

How Do Rats Get Inside Buildings?

Rats get indoors by burrowing under foundations or using cracks and holes in walls. The pests can squeeze through openings as small as a dime. Gaps around utility entry points also provide a rat with easy access into homes and apartments. Propping open doors or unscreened windows allows them inside, too.

Cargo companies and retailers can unknowingly transport a rat along with their merchandise. The rodents also invade markets in large food packages or warehouses via vents or exhaust fans. Rats are excellent swimmers and will follow sewer pipes indoors and come up through uncovered drains.

Signs of Rat Infestation

  • Noise – You may hear gnawing or scurrying sounds from attics, drop ceilings, wall voids, and areas under floors.
  • Droppings – This rodent’s feces are dark brown or black, about a third of an inch in size, smooth, and tapered on both ends. You’re likely to see waste near food supplies inside home pantries or on stockroom shelves in grocery stores.
  • Runways – Rats tend to travel the same paths over and over. Oils from their fur also leave greasy marks on walls, near stairs, or around burrows.
  • Footprints – You may notice tiny paw prints or drag lines from a rat’s tail on dusty surfaces.
  • Damage – A rat ruins the items it chews. Holes in food packaging and gnawed woodwork often indicate an issue with these pests.

Problems Caused by Rats

Rats often carry viruses and bacteria that are harmful to humans. The rodents leave these pathogens behind in their saliva, urine, and feces. People can contract serious illnesses by breathing in particles from dried waste or through bites from an infected rat.

The pests create trouble in commercial settings. When they forage in restaurants and cafeterias, rodents contaminate stored food and other items with fur and droppings. Rats will gnaw on furnishings and baseboards in hotel guest rooms or lobbies, too. Also, health care facilities, daycare centers, and apartment buildings can all see their reputations damaged due to a rat infestation.

Prevention Tips

To avoid a rat problem, focus on repairing foundation cracks, replacing broken vents, and filling in spaces around utility inlets. Be sure doors are well sealed and that all windows have screens, especially in basements. Ensure floor drain covers are secure and fix any plumbing leaks or broken pipes.

Making it difficult for rats to find food helps discourage them from coming indoors. Try keeping trash in metal or thick plastic bins with tight-fitting lids, picking up pet dishes in between meals, and cleaning up any spills promptly. If you still have issues, contact the experienced professionals at Western Pest Services for more help.

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