Similar to the roof rat but larger and chunkier; tail shorter than length of head and body. External measurements average: total length, 18 inches; tail, 8 inches; hind foot, 2 inches. Weight, 14 - 18 oz.
The Norway, or Brown Rat lives both in close association with man and in the feral state, chiefly where vegetation is tall and rank and affords adequate protection. For example, the marshy lands on the coast of North Carolina offer ideal habitat for them.
As a commensal this rat lives principally in basements, on the ground floor, or in burrows under sidewalks or outbuildings.
Although more at home on the ground, these rats are adept at climbing and have been observed traveling along telephone wires from one building to another. In places they become exceedingly numerous and destructive.
They feed on a variety of items including both plant and animal materials. All sorts of garbage appear to be welcome, but their main stay is plant material. Grains of various sorts are highly prized. When established around poultry houses, they feed extensively on eggs and young chickens. They even have been known to kill lambs and young pigs!