For the most part the rats in New York are Norway rats and are primarily nocturnal except when populations are high there might be sightings during the day. Norway rats are typically a brownish color and about 6 inch body length and a tail at least the length of the body. Rats are not protected by NYS law. Norway rats generally prefer fresh food yet usually eat a balanced diet using a keen sense of smell to find food. Rats have a “memory” for foods that don’t taste good or produce ill effects such as poisons and tend to avoid those items in the future making them difficult to catch. They also require at least an ounce of water depending on what they eat. Rats nest underground and depending on the population the burrow system may be extensive. Rats breed consistently throughout the year with females coming into heat every week or so with litters of up to 12 born about 3 weeks later. Peak breeding activity takes place in the spring and fall however. Rat damage can be easy to identify in that their droppings are significantly larger than most other rodents usually between ½ and ¾ inch and dark black. Rats also gnaw at wood and feed bags such as dog food and along runways. You may hear scratching and gnawing in the walls as well as squeaks when rats are active.