The total length of this species is from 325-455 mm with a weight from 115-350 grams. The coat is black to tawny with a lighter coat underneath . The ears are very large and naked. The tail is not bicolor and is also naked. They reproduce throughout the year and produce several litters. They are adept climbers, arboreal, and found in the upper stories and roofs of buildings. They are on the decline in Virginia, with displacement by R. norvegicus. They are nocturnal and most active during dawn and dusk. This species was introduced from Europe and therefore is not native. The chief predator is R. norvegicus. Billions of dollars in damage are done to grain and food yearly.
They are found primarily around human habitation, on the upper floors and roof-tops. Outside of human habitations it is found in woods and swamps.
This species is versatile and will eat anything, especially grains.