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Rats are typically distinguished from mice by their size. They are social animals and live in colonies. They are considered to be commensal rodents, meaning they co-inhabit areas involving human habitation. Our most common rat, the Norway Rat, was imported into the United States by sailing ships in colonial times. Rats have a high mortality rate, with rats in the wild normally living a year or less. However, their birth rate is so high, colonies expand at a fast pace. Rats almost always live in burrows close to a food source, and being good swimmers, will have contact with water when available. They can carry a host of pathogens, and are vectors of a number of diseases as well.
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Rats are normally larger than mice, unless they are juvenile members of a group. If small rats are seen, that is a sure sign that there are more present.
Rats can carry many pathogens and be of great concern to unguarded pets and children.
Rats can travel some distance from their burrows in search of food or mates. They enjoy moist areas, especially river banks and stor sewers, but are present in any condition that provide their necessary food and harborage.
Rats can and do live indoors, but in our area, they mostly stay closer to ground level or below. They also require easy access to the exterior of the structure.