Rat Identification

What Do Rats Look Like?



Rats are highly adaptable rodents found throughout the world. The average rat measures around 16 inches in length from the tip of its nose to the end of its tail and weighs between 8 and 12 ounces.


Rats come in various colors, from brown to dark gray or black, and their undersides may appear the same color as the rest of their bodies or a shade lighter.


Like other rodents, rats have rapidly growing incisor teeth that cause the animals to continually gnaw lest their teeth grow unimpeded and incite dental issues. Rats are nocturnal by nature and have excellent hearing.

Norway Rats & Roof Rats
Two of the most commonly occurring rat species are the norway rat and the black rat, commonly called the roof rat.

The Norway rat is probably the most common rat species found in homes and businesses. The diets of the two animals are noticeably different, as the Norway rat is omnivorous and prefers protein-rich foods.

The black rat keeps a mostly vegetarian diet of fruits, nuts, seeds, and other vegetation. As the name indicates, roof rats tend to nest high off the ground and may enter homes via the roof line. Norway rats are opportunistic nesters and foragers, staying mostly along the ground level.

How do they differ in appearance?
Norway rats have tails shorter in length than their heads and bodies combined, while black rats have tails longer than the rest of their bodies. Additionally, the roof rat tends to be slenderer in appearance and have larger ears than the Norway rat. Roof rats don’t get as big as Norway rats: they typically won’t exceed 10 ounces. The ears of black rats are often nearly hairless, while Norway rats’ ears are covered in hair. Finally, their noses are noticeably different, with the roof rat nose being more pointed than the blunted nose of the Norway rat.