General information on Rats in Cape Town

brown rat

Brown Rat

The brown rat, also referred to as common rat, street rat, sewer rat, Hanover rat, Norway rat, Norwegian rat, or wharf rat is one of the best known and most common rats.

Size and color

One of the largest muroids, it is a brown or grey rodent with a body up to 25 cm long, and a similar tail length; the male weighs on average 350 g and the female 250 g.

Characteristics

The fur is coarse and usually brown or dark grey, while the underparts are lighter grey or brown. The brown rat is a rather large true murid and can weigh twice as much as a black rat and many times more than a house mouse.

Habitat

Rats are known to burrow extensively, both in the wild and in captivity, if given access to a suitable substrate. Rats generally begin a new burrow adjacent to an object or structure, as this provides a sturdy "roof" for the section of the burrow nearest to the ground's surface. Burrows usually develop to eventually include multiple levels of tunnels, as well as a secondary entrance. Older male rats will generally not burrow, while young males and females will burrow vigorously.

Food Source

The brown rat is a true omnivore and will consume almost anything, but cereals form a substantial part of its diet.
grey rat

Black Rat

Size and color

A typical adult black rat is 12.75 to 18.25 cm long, not including a 15 to 22 cm tail, and weighs 75 to 230 Grams, depending on its subspecies. Despite its name, the black rat exhibits several color forms. It is usually black to light brown in color with a lighter underside.

Habitat

Black rats have an unusual distribution and importance, in that they are utterly pervasive through native forests, scrub-lands, and urban park lands. This is typical only of oceanic islands that lack native mammals, especially other rodents. Throughout most of the world, black rats are found only in disturbed habitats near people, mainly near the coast.

Black rats adapt to a wide range of habitats. In urban areas they are found around warehouses, residential buildings, and other human settlements. They are also found in agricultural areas, such as in barns and crop fields. In urban areas they prefer to live in dry upper levels of buildings, so they are commonly found in wall cavities and false ceilings. In the wild, black rats live in cliffs, rocks, the ground, and trees. They are great climbers and prefer to live in trees, such as pines and palm trees. Their nests are typically spherical and made of shredded material, including sticks, leaves, other vegetation, and cloth. In the absence of trees, they can burrow into the ground. Black rats are also found around fences, ponds, riverbanks, streams, and reservoirs.

Food Source

Black rats are considered omnivores and eat a wide range of foods, including seeds, fruit, stems, leaves, fungi, and a variety of invertebrates and vertebrates.