Rats in South Carolina: Types, Facts, and Tips for Homeowners

Although we’re busy swatting mosquitoes and working with Palmetto bug invasions in South Carolina, it is simple to overlook some of the more unsafe pests lurking in our backyards.

Rats really don't get much regard unless of course you’re dealing with an infestation, but they’re astonishingly plentiful all through the point out. Greenville is even a perennial attribute among the most rat-infested metropolitan areas in the country.

Provided their capacity to result in significant property damage and unfold condition, currently being mindful of rat activity in your community will be critical in protecting your loved ones and house. We’ll discuss the most frequent types of rats in South Carolina and supply guidelines for property owners to support keep these rodents at bay.

The 4 Types of Rat in South Carolina

1. Norway Rat (Brown Rat)

brown rat eating sunflower seeds
Image Credit: Gerhard, Pixabay
Scientific Name: Rattus norvegicus
Length: 9” body; 17” w/ tail
Color: Brown/light brown

The Norway rat is the longest, plumpest, and most widespread rat in South Carolina. Originating in China, these rats arrived in the states in the 1700s from Europe and now appear all through North The us. You can uncover them on each and every continent on the world besides Antarctica. Many varieties of Norway rats in brown and white types are bred as domesticated animals, whilst select outbred albino versions are typically favored subjects in scientific studies.

In South Carolina, Norway rats dig burrows and tunnels in different configurations, like farms, wharves, fields, sewers, junk piles, and riverbanks. The opportunistic feeders take pleasure in city regions, typically developing three-foot-long burrows beneath gardens, sidewalks, foundations, and any spot providing foods, shelter, and a nearby water resource. They typically operate within a 100–150-foot territory but will extend it up to three hundred feet.

Norway rats dwell indoors when possible, generally inhabiting basements and reduce flooring because of to their bad agility. As a colony grows, it can distribute via a residence. Nests typically consist of shredded paper, fabric, cardboard, and other workable materials.

Norway Rat Breeding and Feeding Behavior

Norway rats create a hierarchical technique in colonies led by the biggest male rat. Women breed during the 12 months and create about 7 litters annually, every single consisting of 7–11 pups. Nests consist of about 5–12 rats, with migrations happening when they turn into overly populated.

Offered their very poor vision and increased listening to, Norway rats are nocturnal. Their undemanding diet plan is composed primarily of whatsoever is offered. They favor refreshing offerings provided by a home, notably cereal grains, nuts, pet foodstuff, and higher-protein meals. In a pinch, they’ll settle on fruits, veggies, garbage, compost, and animal feces. They’ll even feed on other tiny animals, which includes poultry, birds, fish, and other rodents.

Figuring out Norway Rats

Experienced Norway rats have weighty bodies that can develop up to nine inches lengthy. Their scaly, hairless tails are shorter than their bodies, introducing an additional 6–8 inches in duration. Fur is brown with specks of black, and the underside is usually a lighter grayish-brown. Other distinguishing attributes contain small bulging eyes, blunt noses, and rounded ears.

You will locate evidence of Norway rats in scat, gnaw marks, and trails. Capsule-shaped droppings are ½–¾ inch in size, frequently appearing around foods resources, guiding appliances, alongside walls, and on reduce levels of the property in basic.

Greasy trails can pop up along frequented paths, and you could observe gnaw marks in food containers, door bottoms, drywall, and wood framing. Their enamel develop continuously, and Norway rats will chew on almost any developing material to dress in them down.

2. Black Rat (Roof Rat)

Roof Rat
Image Credit: IrinaK, Shutterstock
Scientific name: Rattus rattus
Length: 8” body; 16” w/ tail
Color: Dark brown/black

Even though it also prefers to stay all around individuals, the black rat is very easily distinguishable from the Norway rat in seems and behavior. They have thinner, nimbler bodies than Norway rats, allowing them to squeeze via tight spaces and climb effectively. Even though their bigger brown counterparts will enter a constructing at ground degree, black rats prefer to invade homes by way of the roof.

Black rats are considerably less typical than Norway rats in South Carolina and the U.S. They largely reside in coastal and southern states, in which you can discover them in barns, fields, attics, wall voids, and roof rafters in warehouses. In the wild, they’ll stay in trees this sort of as pines and palms, though they will dig out burrows or nest in cliffs and rocks, based on what’s accessible.

With better dimensions, aggression, and adaptability to city options, Norway rats often power black rats out of their territory. Norway rats are also more robust swimmers, creating them a lot more most likely to live about riverbanks and marshes.

Black Rat Breeding and Feeding Behavior

Black rats stay in male-dominated nests, equivalent to Norway rats. Experienced women make 4–6 litters a calendar year, with every single made up of up to eight pups. As with Norway rats, infants are weaned in about three months and build into experienced grown ups in about 3–4 months. Black rats have a shorter lifespan than Norway rats, typically residing only a single yr.

Black rats are also nocturnal, coming out at sunset to forage for foodstuff. They largely goal fruits, notably citrus and avocados, as well as seeds, nuts, and cereal grains. Like Norway rats, omnivorous black rats have choices but will take in practically anything. Outside, they’ll opt for insects, birds, reptiles, and other small animals if needed.

Identifying Black Rats

The black rat is marginally scaled-down and slimmer than a Norway rat, generally increasing up to 16 inches prolonged with a hairless tail for a longer time than its physique. Its fur is dim brown or black, whilst the underside is a lighter grey. Compared to Norway rats, black rats have greater eyes and ears and a lot more pointed noses.

Black rats go away indicators of exercise comparable to Norway rats, but droppings and the place of gnaw marks, nests, and grease trails can point out which kind is in the property. Droppings are smaller sized than people of Norway rats and have sharper points. Meanwhile, if you discover symptoms of harm and nesting in the attic or hear skittering and squeaking overhead, you probably have a black rat.

3. Eastern Woodrat (Pack Rat)

Pack Rat near stainless steel food tray
Image Credit: JayPierstorff, Shutterstock
Scientific Name: Neotoma floridana
Length: 8” body; 17” w/ tail
Color: Grayish brown

Eastern woodrats do not choose the firm of folks, alternatively opting to dwell in deciduous forests, swamps, and lowland forests. In South Carolina, these rodents largely live alongside the coastline and in the reduce Piedmont area.

While they may possibly sometimes inhabit an deserted construction, eastern woodrats will construct nests in rocky mountainsides, hollow tree trunks, brush piles, and other sheltered areas, developing them out of whatsoever is obtainable, from sticks and twigs to dried feces and trash. A distinctive routine of woodrats is to steal shiny objects, like keys and bottle caps, to line their nests, earning them the nickname “pack rats.”

Only a single woodrat inhabits a nest at a time. The dens (or middens) can increase quite huge, as foreseeable future generations of woodrats could inhabit previous nests and continue developing on to them.

Eastern Woodrat Breeding and Feeding Practices

Eastern woodrats are solitary, intense in direction of others, and not as prolific as commensal black and Norway rats. They might breed yr-round but generally stay at their most active from February to August. Women create 2–3 litters in a year, each only possessing 1–6 newborns. Infants are weaned in about 3–4 months but can take 6–8 months to reach their mature dimensions.

The eastern woodrat diet regime is made up mostly of vegetation. The nocturnal creatures will appear out of hiding at night time to eat leaves, plant stems and bark, fruits, berries, fungi, ferns, seeds, and nuts.

Identifying Japanese Woodrats

Japanese woodrats are a bit more compact than Norway and black rats and sport prolonged, hair-covered tails. They can grow up to 16 inches prolonged. The fur is a grayish brown shade that will get darker toward the again, lightens on the sides, and gets to be white on the woodrat’s underside. Their eyes are black and bulging, and their ears are large and rounded.

4. Allegheny Woodrat

Scientific Name: Neotoma magister
Length: 8” body; 17” w/ tail
Color: Grayish brown

The Allegheny woodrat is tough to differentiate from the eastern woodrat. The two had been even deemed the very same species till the early 2000s. They construct similar nests, have the exact same mating and ingesting routines, and search nearly identical.

The primary big difference is that the Allegheny woodrat isn’t as widespread. They are mainly minimal to the mountainous northwest corner of South Carolina, exactly where they nest and forage in deciduous forests.

The Danger of Rat Infestations

The most harmful varieties of rats in South Carolina are Norway and black rats, as equally are keen to take up residence in occupied properties in which they can wreak havoc. One of the main worries is the lengthy record of hazardous illnesses they can carry into the house, such as:

  • Bubonic plague
  • Typhoid
  • Dysentery
  • Leptospirosis
  • Salmonellosis
  • Spotted fever
  • Toxoplasmosis

Rats can distribute ailment immediately through droppings, urine, and food invasion. Far more typically, pathogens enter the house by way of vectors hooked up to the rat, these kinds of as ticks, mites, and fleas.

Apart from illness, residence damage is an crucial concern. Rats are infamous agricultural head aches, and their voracious ingesting practices can spell disaster for a backyard. But for the typical property owner, house damage is the higher concern by much.

Like most rodents, Norway and black rats have to gnaw to hold their tooth from expanding way too massive. And they’ll gnaw on just about everything, whether it is wood, steel, or plastic. That can consist of doorways, wooden framing, pipes, h2o lines, and flooring. In accordance to some estimates, rodents gnawing on electrical wiring leads to up to 25% of unexplained house fires.

rats on the window
Image Credit: Simon, Pixabay

When Is Peak Rodent Season?

Rats in South Carolina are lively calendar year-round, and the warm temperature enables them to lengthen their breeding year. While you can see indicators of an infestation at any time, they are much more very likely to seek shelter inside of when the temperature falls in winter season.

How To Prevent Rats

In real truth, protecting against rats commences and ends with protecting against yet another common South Carolina pest, the home mouse. Of any rodent in the state, home mice are the most most likely to invade a residence, and if you can maintain them out, you can keep out a rat. Residence mice can squeeze by way of holes as tiny as ¼ of an inch and are as agile as black rats, able of utilizing the exact same entrances that rats use and more.

Adhere to these suggestions to decrease your chances of mouse or rat infestations:

  • Install door sweeps and weather-stripping to exterior doors
  • Add metal screens to chimneys and exterior ports
  • Clean up food spills and buildup in the sink
  • Remove old boxes, piles of clothes, and other clutter and maintain a tidy home
  • Seal cracks, gaps, and holes with caulk or concrete
  • Keep food in airtight containers
  • Make pet food and water dishes inaccessible
  • Trim back bushes and other vegetation at least two feet from the home’s foundation
  • Maintain a dry, well-ventilated attic and basement
  • Keep lumber, firewood, and piles that could create potential hiding spots at least 20 feet away from the house
  • Seal all garbage and recycling bins and take the trash out every night
  • Remove bird feeders and bird baths from the lawn
  • Trim back overhanging trees
  • Fix plumbing leaks, slow-running drains, and anything that may provide a water source
  • Remove fallen fruit and nuts and other debris from your yard
woman putting weatherstrip on the door
Image Credit: JulieK2, Shutterstock

If rats have been an issue in your house ahead of, checking for exercise is vital. Preserve an eye out for burrows close to your foundation, damaged yard plants, and other indicators of lifestyle.

Really don't hesitate to call an exterminator when you listen to or locate signs of a rat in the home. You can consider rat traps and poisons for new infestations, but do not wait around as well lengthy to contact in the execs. Rats reproduce swiftly and trigger hurt more rapidly than mice, so there is no time for ineffective approaches.

If rat droppings, chew marks, and the audio of movement carries on, it’s time to contact an exterminator. And no issue what you have experimented with prior to, drop every thing and get in touch with an professional when you see 1 ahead of you, specifically during the daytime.

Rats will only step exterior their comfort and ease zone when needed, and needs intensify as the colony expands. You might be lucky and only have 1, but usually, for every single rat you see, there are probably a number of far more that you don’t see.


Norway and black rats are the most likely rats in South Carolina to lead to troubles. They can be remarkably destructive, spreading condition and harmful residence in a brief time. Determining and protecting your property against these voracious pests can make the variation between working with a slight inconvenience and a life-altering catastrophe.



Highlighted Graphic Credit rating: Joshua J. Cotten, Unsplash