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The most common rat in mid-western Ontario is the Norway rat. The Norway rat is large and robust, weighing in at about seven to 18 ounces. It has a blunt snout, small ears covered with short hairs, brown shaggy fur and a belly that is gray to yellowish white in colour. A Norway rat's tail is shorter than it's body and head combined. The tail is hairless and scaly.

Rats reproduce at an amazing rate! A female will reproduce at the age of three months and produce 4 to 7 litters per year. Average litter size is 8 to 12 pups. That is between 32 and 84 little rats for each female per year. Since the female daughters will start to reproduce at three months the population will expand exponentially. The only good news is that an adult rat will only live about one year after reaching adulthood.

Norway rats live in colonies. The Norway rat generally prefers to live in underground tunnels. The larger the colony the more extensive the tunnel network becomes. Colonies are usually close to a food source, and will be evident by burrowing activity. Colonies will expand quickly if left unchecked.Their nests are built from soft material like paper or grass chewed into small pieces.

Rats are great swimmers, and can gain access through sewer pipes or pipes that lead to drainage ditches. They are also climb very well, so keeping rats out of your building is a bottom to top job. Once rats have colonized a building, it is dificult to eliminate them.

Norway rats are very suspicious of changes in their environment and will avoid traps and bait for a few days. It normally takes a few days to start reducing rat numbers for this reason. Rats are nocturnal, with peak activity just after dark and just before dawn. When the population is large or they are disturbed or hungry, you can see activity during the day. Unlike mice rats need water each day.

Rats can quickly damage buildings with their chewing and can cause electrical fires. They urinate constantly and defecate more than twenty times per day! This contaminates much more food than they ever eat. They carry many pathogens such as the plague, typhus, and trichinosis. Rats have caused more human deaths than all wars combined!

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