In Chicago, there are two types of rats. If your home becomes infested, you may be wondering how to distinguish between roof rats and Norway rats. Roof rats go by a variety of names, including palm tree rats, black rats, ship rats, and house rats. Norway rats are known by a variety of names, including brown rat, common rat, street rat, sewer rat, wharf rat, Hanover rat, Norwegian rat, and Parisian. Whatever you call them, these rats are a major source of concern for Chicago homeowners. Both can infiltrate homes, gnaw on wires and wood, deposit droppings and urine, and potentially transmit disease to humans. More than 35 diseases can be contracted from these unwanted intruders. How do differentiate between Norway rats vs roof rats?

Norway rats vs roof rats

The sight of a rat sends shivers down many people’s spines. We understand that having a rat problem can be stressful and upsetting, so we’ve compiled all of the information you’ll need to get rid of your unwanted houseguests for good.

Norway Rats vs. Roof Rats

Roof rats and Norway rats are the most common rats in Chicago. When you see a rat in your home or on your property, it is upsetting, and the last thing you want to do is investigate further. The appearance, behavior, and other characteristics of the rodent can help you identify it, which is the first step in dealing with an infestation. Let’s look at the characteristics of both of these intruders.

Roof Rat Identification

Roof rats come in a variety of colors. In Chicago, they have three color patterns: gray back with the lighter gray underside, black back with dark gray belly, and brownish gray with a lighter white bottom side. Adult roof rats range in length from 12 to 14 inches, including their tail, which is longer than the rest of their body. They range in weight from 5 to 10 ounces. Their hairless and scaly black tails Their small, sleek body allows them to be physically agile and enter your home more easily through small openings.


Roof rats can be found in Chicago. They are also found in the states that border the Southern Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Pacific Oceans. Contact Atap to controlling roof rats.

These arboreal or tree-dwelling rats can climb higher and reach more places than Norway rats. They, like squirrels, climb trees, vines, and wires to get to food and water. They also cross utility lines and branches to get to the roofs of buildings like homes, restaurants, and grocery stores.


Roof rats, once inside, can cause a variety of issues. You might wake up at night because you hear them rustling around in the walls. By gnawing and defecating, they can cause structural damage to your home. Roof rats have the ability to chew through wires and potentially start fires. They can chew holes in the wall, gnaw through plastic water pipes, and engage in other activities that cause structural damage or leaks in your home. Roof rats are especially noticeable during the citrus season, which lasts from September to March in Chicago. If you have citrus plants in your yard, a hollowed-out citrus fruit that roof rats use for food is a dead giveaway.

Roof rats also have black, banana-shaped faeces that are about a quarter to half-inch long. This can be found in your home where they are nesting, particularly in the attic.


Roof rats eat everything. These indiscriminate eaters consume a wide range of foods, including garbage, fruits, nuts, small birds or reptiles, and insects. They are a threat to farmers because they eat crops. Foraging for cereal, sugar cane, coconuts, cocoa, oranges, and coffee beans is a favourite pastime of theirs. They typically destroy or contaminate more food than they consume.


Roof rats prefer to build their nests above ground. They may be found nesting in wall voids, attics, soffits, debris piles, skirts of old palm fronds, hollow trees, outdoor kitchens, cars and RVs, and other places.


These rodents reach sexual maturity between the ages of three and four months. Breeding occurs all year in Chicago, with peaks in the spring and fall. The gestation period ranges from 21 to 23 days. A female rat can have up to five litters per year, with each litter containing five to eight pups. As a result, if the homeowner does not take action, infestations can become severe in a short period of time.

How to Spot Norway Rats


These reddish-brown rats have blunt muzzles and are often plump. The tail is roughly equal in length to the rest of the rat’s body, though it may be shorter. These enormous rats can weigh up to one pound.


The Norway rat is the most common rat in much of Europe and North America also, but the roof rat reigns supreme in Chicago. These pests can cause a variety of issues. They can gnaw on household objects and eat your food. Furthermore, rats can spread disease through their waste. They may also have mites or fleas on their fur, which can spread disease. These rodents enjoy burrowing. To make nests, they dig in the garbage and burrow under buildings or concrete slabs. Look for freshly dug dirt in front of three-inch openings to identify a burrow. Burrows are typically 18 inches deep, with a hardpacked soil path leading to them that serves as a “runway.” Burrows, in addition to providing a safe haven, also serve as a food storage location. Their burrowing behaviour can weaken structure foundations, erode levee banks, damage landscaping, and cause sewer line blockages.


These pests prefer fresh food and enjoy grains, fish, and meat. Norway rats, on the other hand, will eat decaying food or garbage to survive. Every day, they require about an ounce of food and an ounce of water.


Norway rats prefer to congregate near the coast or canals. They are also drawn to areas where garbage is not properly stored. When foraging for food and water, they stay close to their nest, travelling only 100 to 150 feet, but they may travel further if food is unavailable nearby. This rat is also known to live in sewers.


These rodents prefer to nest in burrows and stay close to their shelter when looking for food. Norway rats can be found nesting indoors in basements, behind walls, and in crawl spaces. They can be found nesting under garbage, around gardens or fields, and along building foundations on your property.


Norway rats reach sexual maturity between the ages of three and five months. They reproduce at a faster rate than roof rats, producing up to seven liters per year. Each litter has between eight and twelve puppies. As a result, a Norway rat infestation should be addressed as soon as possible.

What Is the Distinction Between Norway and Roof Rats

These two common Chicago rats can be distinguished by their physical and behavioural characteristics. If the rat is climbing, it is most likely a roof rat. Roof rats, because of their climbing habits, prefer to nest in attics and upper floors when they infest your home. Norway rats do not climb well and can be found nesting in burrows, basements, or first-floor building walls. These common rodents have distinct appearances. Norway rats appear to be heavier than roof rats, and roof rats have longer tails than their body.

Why Do I Have Norway Rats or Roof Rats

Rats enter your home in search of the things that all animals seek: food, water, and shelter. Warm-blooded creatures seek warm places to nest, and your home provides an ideal setting. Rats can infest all year in Chicago, but a cold spell is more likely to drive them indoors. There are a few things you can do to make your house more appealing to rats.

Rats are attracted to food smears and spill on kitchen surfaces, cabinets, and pantries. Rats that gnaw through food stored in its original packaging have easy access to it. Any leaking appliances or areas in your home where moisture collects can attract rats. Aside from food and water, certain aspects of your property may make it more appealing to rats. Rats can hide in clutter, both inside and outside your home. Any debris or construction materials on your property are appealing to rats looking for a place to nest. Roof rats are excellent climbers, so tree limbs or branches that are close to your home can serve as a bridge. Any openings in the exterior of your home can serve as an entry point for these four-legged creatures. Rats can enter your home through as small as a half-inch opening.

Roof Rat and Norway Rat Dangers

Several diseases can be transmitted by these unsanitary rodents, making rat infestation an urgent issue that must be addressed. Implement a rodent control strategy right away to limit your exposure to these dangerous home invaders.

In Chicago, How Do I Get Rid of Roof Rats and Norway Rats

Rats are a serious pest problem that many homeowners would prefer not to deal with on their own. Pest control companies use a variety of methods to address rat infestations and develop a strategy tailored to your home’s infestation. This is why hiring a professional pest control company is the best way to get rid of these rodents.

For Rodent Control Services, Contact Atap

It is a serious problem when rats infest your Chicago home. Atap takes rats seriously and is committed to assisting you in eliminating them as soon as possible. That is why we keep our knowledgeable and friendly technicians up to date on the latest rodent control techniques, methods, and tools. We understand that a rat infestation can occur at any time, so we provide appointments within 24 hours. To learn more about read our post What do Norway rat holes look like. Check out our Chicago rodent control services today. Atap Pest Control for Norway rats is the best in their service. For more information; call us at 773-701-7705.

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