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In our region of Central-Northern California, the two most common species of pest rats are the roof rat (Rattus rattus) and the Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus), neither of which are native to California but originated in the Far East and spread across the globe centuries ago. The roof rat is the smaller of the two, averaging 5 to 10 ounces in weight, gray to white in color, with a pointed snout, long ears and a black tail as long as its body. The Norway rat is stockier, weighing 7 to 18 ounces, grayish in color, and with shorter ears and tail than the roof rat.

The roof rat is a good climber, nests in trees and dense shrubs, and may take up housekeeping in your attic, the space above dropped ceilings or even in high cabinets. The Norway rat is a burrower and indoors usually sticks to basements or ground floor spaces. You may spot its nest lined with shredded paper, fabric or other fibrous materials.

Although both these types of rat are common in our region, and highly adapted to residential neighborhoods and urban environs, our Earth Guard customers complain most frequently of the roof rat.

Sometimes depicted as funny and cute in popular media such as the Disney-Pixar movie “Ratatouille,” in fact Rattus rattus and Rattus norvegicus pose serious health and safety problems for home- and business owners. Rats eat and contaminate human and animal food and whatever container or packaging it is stored in; they gnaw on and ruin wooden doors and cabinets, chew through electrical wires and shred insulation to use for their nests. One of our customers recently had to place a service call to her security alarm company when a sensor stopped working; the mystified technician finally found a place in the attic where a rat had chewed through the alarm system wiring.

Rats also carry diseases such as murine typhus, leptospirosis, trichinosis, salmonellosis (food poisoning), ratbite fever and even plague that can be transmitted to humans and other animals.

For more information about rats and how you can prevent or eliminate infestations, visit www.earthguardpestcontrol.com or contact our trained Sacramento pest control professionals at 916-457-7605 (877-328-4468 toll-free).

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