A rat is just a rat, right? Well not really. there are Black Rats, Sewer Rats, Norway Rats, Roof Rats, Cotton Rats, Kangaroo Rats and many others throughout the world. ( don’t forget the squirrel ) To most people however a rat is just that. They all look so similar but the right identification can sometimes make all the difference in trying to catch one.
I used to do a lot of rodent work in the city of Baltimore. Rats and mice were so plentiful there. Mainly the Norway Rat and Sewer Rats. In one open food market downtown we trapped 43 rats in our first service-BEFORE- we even finished setting all the traps. I hated that account, I had to be there every Tuesday morning at 3 am, spray for roaches ( that’s a whole other article ) and bag all the dead rats while resetting the traps. Some mornings I’d fill 2 trash bags full of rotting,stinking rats. Even the mice were were afraid to move in because the rats would eat them. All in all I have to say I got pretty skilled in ‘how’ to trap them. They are cautious critters and caught on pretty quickly of the dangers of my traps. Across town however I had another account. This was a mattress assembly plant and they had a whole different kind of rat. Cotton Rats. They came in with the huge truck loads of cotton. The men would dump their load of cotton and these funny looking rodents would scurry off looking to hide. My usual techniques and baits didn’t do so well there. I had to approach these guy’s with baits and grains in large protective stations and even use liquid baits. Cotton Rats are much cuter than the Sewer or Norway so I always felt a little sad for them.
My point is I guess, a rat is not a rat. Just calling the exterminator and telling him you saw a rat may not be helpful. In North America there really are just 2 rats you’ll probably have trouble with. The Norway Rat and the Roof Rat. Each is totally different in terms of how to trap them. As the name suggests a roof rat will most likely be in your trees or attic where as a Norway Rat is happy in your shed or garage. The 2 look very similar and are easily confused.
Just for fun ‘take the rat quiz’. See what your score is and then come on back and let us know in the comment section.