Rats are nocturnal and very curious. They spend most nights constantly exploring their surroundings. They memorize their pathways that led them food and shelter earlier. Rats are exceptionally apprehensive of new things in they may find in a well traveled pathway (this makes trapping a more difficult task).
Rats are prolific breeders. The time between conception and birth is very short, only 21 to 23 days. Females give birth to six (6) to twelve (12) babies at one time. Once the babies are born the females are ready to conceive again within two (2) days after a litter is born! Breeding itself will become more prevalent in the spring and fall. On average, however, a female rat will give birth to four (4) to six (6) litters per year. Baby rats are born hairless with closed eyes but are nearly independent within three (3) weeks which allows for the mothers to prepare to give birth to another, possibly twelve (12) new babies! These newborns are even ready to breed themselves at three (3) months of age. Rats normally live only to 12 months of age, but some may live as long as eighteen months.
As with most nocturnal animals, the eyesight of rats is less than ideal. They rely primarily on a keen sense of smell, taste, hearing and touch. Their intense sense of smell is what leads these rodents into our homes. Rats are great swimmers and they will follow the scent of your dinner through your drains into the sewer systems where some rats will live. They follow this scent through the pipes and into your home via your toilet! Their long whiskers are used as sensitive tactile sensors. They use them for purposes of travel, detecting walls in the darkness as well as burrow barriers.
Roof rats are more agile climbers while Norway rats are more powerful swimmers and jumpers. This means that while they may live in the same building, Roof rats will occupy the attic areas while Norway rats will be more comfortable in the basement. Despite the fact that they live in close quarters, Norway and roof rats are not friendly. The Norway rat will kill Roof rats that it finds in its territory.
Woodrats are known by many as “pack rats”. They have a tendency to take and hide small shiny objects such as jewelry, forks and spoons.