Certain rodents have spread all over the world due to travel and trade.  They are not only found in the tropics from where they originate, but also in the colder climates.  It is here that they have been living around people and their homes.  Some species live permanently in homes while others come in once it has become cold.  Buildings with lack of protection provide an open invitation for rodents to come in, nest and search for food.

We have three main rodents species in South Africa:

The Norway Rat (Rattus Norvegicus)

The Norway rat is fairly large, measuring in at around 330-470mm in length.  It weighs upto 500g and has a stub nose with small ears and eyes and a short scruffy coat.  The fur on its back is brown and stomach is grey to white with a short tail.

This rat is not a fussy eater as it will happily eat large quantities of meat in one sitting, drinks water and any food with a high water content.

It is not a very agile rat and will only climb if necessary.  It swims very well and has a very large territory, upto 100m big. The Norway rat is sexually mature in 2-3 months.  It will have 8-12 pups in a litter and upto 7 litters a year.  The life expectancy of this rat 9-12 months.

Noway Rat

The Black Rat (Rattus Rattus)

This rat is thinner and smaller than the Norway Rat.  It weighs upto 200g with a pointy nose, large ears and eyes.  It also has a long tail (longer than its head and tail together) smooth coat that is grey to black in colour.

The Black rat eats mostly vegetable foods and can eat large amounts in one sitting.  It can go a long time without water. The black rat is agile and likes to climb as it is a very good climber.  It does not like water and tries to avoid it but is a good swimmer.

It has a territory of between 15-30 meters. The Black rat is sexually mature in 2-3 months.  It has 6-10 offspring per litter and upto 6 litters a year.  The life expectancy is 9-12 months.

Black Rat (Rattus rattus)

The House Mouse (Mus musculus)

The house mouse is small and thin and weighs upto only 15g.  It has a pointy nose and large ears with small eyes and a long tail.

The house mouse prefers grain and eats only small amounts at a time.  It generally draws water from its foods.

This mouse is quite agile and a very good climber.  It can swim and has a small territory, about 3-6 meters though it is highly territorial.

It is sexually mature in 1.5 months and has around 5-6 pups in a litter.  They can have upto 8 litters per year.  The life expectancy of the house mouse is 9-12 months.

House Mouse (Mus musculus)