Native to Asia, Norway rats spread throughout Europe in the mid-1500s and were then brought to North America via ships in the 1770s. Presently, Norway rats can be found in every corner of the world except for Antarctica. Relying heavily on human activity for food and shelter, the pests tend to hold a cosmopolitan distribution.
Preferred nesting sites of the Norway rat include cellars, warehouses, grocery stores, slaughterhouses, docks, sewers, barns, silos, beneath concrete slabs, around ponds, and in garbage dumps. Exceptional climbers, jumpers, and swimmers, Norway rats will nest virtually anywhere with nearby sources of food and water.