norway rat looking for shelter

Rats: A Problem in Massachusetts

The most common rat species in Massachusetts is the Norway rat, which is also referred to as the brown rat—for obvious reasons. This species can be found throughout the state. There is another species you could have trouble with if you live in a coastal area. It is called a black rat. We'll be focusing on brown rats today, since they are likely to be the rat pest you're dealing with. But keep in mind that the prevention tips offered below are likely to apply to black rats as well.

Norway Rats

These are big rats. A typical Norway rat is between seven and nine inches long, with a tail that adds another six to eight inches. It is most likely to be brown with a white underside. It will have a blunt nose, black eyes, and a thick tail.

Where Norway Rats Live

We're not referring to geographic location. But, if we were, the answer would not be Norway. These rats live all over the world, and they didn't originate from Norway. Some experts believe these rats came from the region of the world that is now northern China. Okay. Where do Norway rats live? Usually, they can be found living in burrows under the ground. They excavate these burrows underneath piles, foundations, and other objects. This is important to understand. Norway rats like the dirt and won't generally want to live permanently in your home unless there is a good reason to do so. While this might sound good, it actually isn't. As Norway rats go in and out of your home, they can pick up parasites and bacteria from outside sources.


There are many parasites that live outside of your home, parasites such as ticks, fleas, and mites. When a rat gets into your home, it brings these secondary pests in with them.


Rats roam in sewer systems and climb around in dumpsters. These are preferred locations for a city rat. There are many opportunities for food in these places. They can also be found feeding on dead animals. All of this activity exposes rats to bacteria that are harmful to us. When a rat climbs out of a dumpster and squeezes into your home, it can contaminate everything its fur touches, such as stored food, silverware, dishes, cutting boards, and more.

Norway Rats Are Rodents

Rodents have a bad habit that makes them horrible houseguests. They have to constantly chew to file down their front teeth. They chew holes to get in. They chew holes to go from room to room. They chew on insulation, both foam and fiberglass. They chew on stored boxes and furniture. They chew on stored food. But, of all the things they chew on, the worst is wiring. Rats are strongly connected to house fires that do not have a human cause.

Norway Rats Leave Waste

As these rats explore your home, they leave urine to mark their territory, and they leave waste everywhere they go. The droppings they leave are a serious disease threat. If you find droppings, wear gloves and a mask when cleaning them up and disposing of them. But, while droppings are dirty, and certainly unwanted inside your home, they can be a valuable warning sign that these rats are getting in.

Prevention Tips

  • Seal entry points that are near the ground, such as damaged weatherstripping, missing door sweeps, holes in wood, gaps around door and window frames, missing vent covers, gaps around pipes and other foundation penetrations, holes in sole plates, damaged screens and damaged window panes.

  • Water is a strong attractant. Address any conditions near your home that allows puddles to form, and remove containers that capture rainwater.

  • When Norway rats come into your yard, they will look for hiding places. Lawn clutter, woodpiles, construction materials, and other objects in your yard can give Norway rats what they're looking for. Removing these hiding places can make your yard less interesting to these rats. It will also make it difficult for a Norway rat to find the ideal location to create a burrow.

  • Tall grass and overgrowth in your landscaping will be a paradise for Norway rats. Keep everything trimmed and remove unnecessary vegetation.

Remember that American Pest Solutions is always available to help you get control of rats, mice, and other pests. Reach out to us today and schedule service for your Western Massachusetts home. We offer the most effective and safest way to solve and prevent rat infestations.

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