Norway Rat

Actual Size: 16” long including the tail

Characteristics: Robust bodies. Typically grayish-brown can be reddish-brown to blackish.

Habitat: Dig 6.5 feet long burrows along property lines and gardens. Will nest in basements and crawl spaces of homes.


  • Known to be aggressive and may even prey on smaller rodents.
  • Tails are hairy and shorter than their head and body combined.
  • Prefer to live in underground burrows, basements, and tunnels.
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Norway Rats in Nevada

Norway rats are the largest rats that we encounter in the Southwest (they can weigh over one pound, more than twice as large as roof rats). They have shorter tails, which often appear to be two-toned from the rat’s partially haired skin. The Norway rat’s color can range from grayish brown to reddish-brown and is usually darker in color than other rats.

Norway rats can reproduce all year long, but the highest rates of reproduction generally occur in the fall. The Norway rat, like the roof rat, is perfectly adapted to city life in Las Vegas; they will eat just about anything that humans will eat. They are gifted scavengers and will usually make their nests in or near the ground. They are frequently found in crawl spaces under homes. Because Norway rats are primarily active at night, many are not aware of their presence inside their homes until their numbers swell and that presence becomes more obvious.

Norway Rat Habitat

Norway rats love being low to the ground and are thus often found in sewers, basements, garages, crawlspaces, and more. They thus often enter homes through cracks or gaps in the foundation of a home. They also build burrows that are 2 to 3 inches in diameter and up to 6.5 feet in length. Burrows are constructed outdoors beside foundations and gardens. Norway rats are nocturnal and will enter homes at night in search of food, returning back to their burrow.  If nests are found inside homes, they are typically in basements and crawl spaces. If a population is large, Norway rats will nest in upper areas of a home or structure.

Norway Rat Behaviors & Dangers

Norway rats can damage foundations, slabs, garden crops, and plants as they burrow and gnaw to find food and shelter. Inside homes, Norway rats may cause extensive damage when nesting in walls and attics. Accounts of rodents starting fires through the gnawing of electrical wires have been widely reported. Chewed, exposed wires inside walls can spark, causing interior walls to catch fire. When foraging for food, these rats consume and contaminate food meant for humans, pets, and livestock. Salmonella, leptospirosis, and rat-bite fever are among the dozens of diseases spread by Norway rats.

If you have noticed Norway rats in or near your Las Vegas area home, contact your local rodent exterminators for help!