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Norway Rat vs Roof Rat

Differences Between Roof Rats and Norway Rats

Though there are many types of rats found across the Mid-Atlantic states, two that cause issues for residents and business owners are roof rats and Norway rats. While these pests may look the same to the untrained eye, they do differ in appearance, size, and behavior.

Appearance & Size

norway rat vs roof rat roof rat vs norway ratColor is an easy way to identify roof rats vs. Norway rats. Roof rats have black fur with pale underbellies, while Norway rats have brownish-gray coats. Another way to differentiate between the two rodents is size. Adult roof rats measure about eight inches in length, while Norway rats can be up to ten inches long. Additionally, the roof rat typically has a much longer tail.


The main difference between roof rats and Norway rats is their behavior. Roof rats hunt for food and shelter above ground. They climb across utility lines and branches to access roofs and enter houses, grocery stores, and restaurants. Once inside, they nest in attics, drop ceilings, and wall voids. They often eat fruit, insects, and even the seeds around bird feeders.

Norway Rat

Alternatively, Norway rats are excellent diggers that like to stay close to the ground. You may find burrows along foundations, near gardens, or under trash piles and yard clutter. The rodents use vents and gaps around pipes to get inside buildings. Both pests can swim and take advantage of drainpipes and sewage lines to safely travel to different areas.

If you notice gnaw marks on electric wires, shredded insulation, or droppings on counters or floors, you may have a roof rat or Norway rat infestation.


Roof rats and Norway rats can transmit more than 35 diseases to people, including murine typhus and salmonellosis. The pests contaminate any food or surfaces that they touch. If you have a rodent issue in your home or business, call the experts at Western Pest Services for assistance.

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