How Roof Rats Differ From Norway Rats

How Roof Rats Differ From Norway Rats

Even though there are many rat species across the US, two of them are the most common in home infestations. These two species are the roof rat and the Norway rat. Let’s take a look at the differences between them.


The two rat species differ in two major ways when it comes to their appearance. First, you have coloration. The roof rat is also known as the black rat, and the Norway rat is referred to as the brown rat, so if you see a rodent that is darker in color, usually dark brown or black, then you are dealing with a roof rat. The second difference between the two is in size. Roof rats tend to reach lengths of 16 inches when you include the tail, while Norway rats will reach 20 inches. So, on average, the Norway rat is larger than the roof rat. Using these two metrics, you can identify the species of a rat if you see it out in the open. If it’s a fairly large rat with a brownish-gray coat, then you are dealing with a Norway rat.


The biggest differences between the two species are found in their behaviors. Roof rats prefer to be high above the ground, usually in trees, but when they are in human settlements, they will climb electric poles, fences and everything else that puts them as high as possible. In the home, this behavior stays with them, and they will prefer to infest the attic and the wall voids of the upper floors.

Norway rats are the opposite. They prefer to be close to the ground, and burrow under it. Outdoors, they will burrow near gardens, in yard clutter, or under trash heaps, and indoors, they will either nest in the basement or in the wall voids of the lower floors of the home

Differences in control

There are not a lot of differences when it comes to the control methods used against each species, except to where the treatments are applied. For roof rats, the upper part of the home will be targeted, and for Norway rats, the lower part. Prevention methods are also the same for the two species. Basically, the entire home has to be pest-proofed because both rats will use either the lower or upper part of the home to gain access.

If you would like to know more about what these methods entail, or if you are interested in professional rat control services, contact us today.

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