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Types of Wild Rats You May Encounter in the Pacific Northwest

 In Blog-posts, Pest Control Tips, Pest Prevention

A rat hangs on the trunk of a mossy tree in the Pacific Northwest

The appearance of a rat in your home can be embarrassing and disheartening, especially if it’s right in front of guests. That’s a price you pay for living in the Pacific Northwest, famous for its lush green forested communities. It’s a superbly habitable area for humans, and rats are also attracted to the climate. The problem is that they won’t want to only hang around in the forests. Your well-insulated home also makes for a desirable habitat. That’s where your troubles begin. You may have seen one, but you aren’t exactly sure whether it’s a rat or what type it is. 

Here are the rat species most commonly found in the Pacific Northwest region: 

Norway Rats

Despite the name, these rats do not have their origin in Scandinavia, but rather somewhere in China or Inner Mongolia. This type is the most invasive rat species and can be found everywhere habitable in the world, wherever humans live. They go by such names as Old World rats, streets rats, and sewer rats. 

They are typically black or brown and can have a brown or light gray underside. Their measurements range from 15 to 20 inches, including their thick, hairless tails. This size makes them one of the largest rats you may encounter in your home. 

In terms of diet, everything is fair game. Meat, nuts, fruits, grains, vegetables, and even a healthy serving of snails.. If you’re the kind of person who throws moist food into your garbage, then you’ll most likely have rat problems.

Black Rats

Chances are, the rats you’ve mostly come across are Norway Rats rather than black rats. Though rare, you may meet one if you live along the coast and in one particular location, the tops of buildings. This is the reason they are also known as roof rats, as they are very agile climbers. Roof rats tend to be black but can also be light brown or medium, with the underside being lighter.

They measure 5 to 7 inches long, with the tail only measuring up to 8 inches. This long tail is what aids their vertical adventures in your attic. They’re likely to be found in or around the homes of pet owners. The presence of pet food is a common attraction for black rats. They also love feasting on other foods that grow in the wild, such as fruits, grains, leaves, and stems. Insects and small animals like birds are part of their diet as well.


At first sight, it’s easy to mistake them for baby squirrels because of their bushy tails, but a closer look at their ears and snouts will quickly change your initial assessment. The bushy-tailed woodrat is also known as the pack rat because of its penchant for shiny items; to the point, it can drop whatever it’s doing to go after such lustrous things. 

If you live closer to the mountains, you may encounter these rats as they prefer cooler climates and forested habitats, though they have also been found in the deserts of Arizona. They are normally grayish-brown, with large ears and black eyes. As with the other rats, pack rats enjoy nuts, leaves, berries, twigs, insects, small animals such as birds, and more. 

Kangaroo rats

These animals are native to the Western US region but aren’t true rats, and their small stature got them the name. They tend to live in drier areas, and you’ll usually find them solo unless they’re breeding. The kangaroo moniker is apt as these rats can jump quite long distances. One common species, known as Ord’s kangaroo rat, is golden brown, with a white underbelly, accompanied by a long tail with quite a bushy tip. 

Need Help Dealing with Rats?

Antworks Pest Control can help. We’re a family-owned local exterminator serving the Portland OR metro area. We have various treatment options to help you rid your home of rats or mice. If you’d like to know more about how we can help you get rid of rodents, contact us today


Types of Wild Rats You May Encounter in the Pacific Northwest IN VANCOUVER WA AND PORTLAND OR

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