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wild Rattus Norvegicus<br>
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Our Rat's Wild Cousins

As our domestic dog (Canus Familiarus) came from the wolf (Canus Lupus), so did our pet rat (Rattus Norvegicus) come from the wild rat (Rattus Norvegicus). Huh? So when do we get to call our pet rats Rattus Familiarus or Rattus Domesticus?

What is a

Rats are RODENTS.

Rodents are MAMMALS, class Mammalia

A female rat is called a "Doe"
A male rat is called a "Buck"
A baby rat is called a "Pup"

A group of rats is called a "Colony" or a "Mischief".
When the colony gets too large in one area, a small group of rats from that colony will set out on their own to establish a colony somewhere else.
A rat's nest is called a "Midden"

Rats have been given a very bad rap. Rats are clean animals, grooming themselves, and their nest mates, several times a day. This activity not only cleans the coat but is also a part of the strong bonding of friendships within their group. Rats are nocturnal, sleeping during most of the day, coming awake for short periods of time to groom or nibble on stashed foods, and becoming active at dusk to venture from their burrows and forage. Forest-dwelling rats live underground, borrowing under tree roots or into the soft dirt of hill sides. Their foods are nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and grasses that they find in meadows and gardens and country backyards. They are cleaner then the city-dwelling rats because the city-dwellers constantly come into contact with human filth. Rats who live in the forest are also healthier then their city dwelling counterparts because the city dwellers have no choice but to live off our garbage. For their own safety we have driven them to the sewers. Give the city dweller a clean environment and good food to eat and he will become as presentable as his country cousin.

A Rat By Any Other Name

Let's start from the beginning:
The Origin of Rodents.

History of the Rat Specifically

Introducing Rattus Norvegicus, commonly known as the Brown Rat, but he's also known as the Norway Rat, Common Rat, Water Rat, or Wharf Rat.
Scroll down the same page to find information on the Black Rat.

Somewhere, someone is trying to exterminate the Rat.
In the USA, In Canada, in the UK, in Africa, and in other parts of the world I'm sure, but I have been unable to find internet information at this time.

Somewhere, someone is blaming the rat for something.
The Plague for instance. But don't blame the Rat....blame the Flea.
And it was Rattus Rattus, the Black Rat, not the Norway Rat, that was blamed for the Plague.
What we as Rat-lovers know. And the latest information would suggest that the Plague may actually have been Ebola.
And the song, "Ring Around the Rosey"? Does that have anything to do with the Plague... or not?

Somewhere in the world, the rat is revered. In India, and in China

Rats have even become legendary:
The Bestiary
The Pied Piper of Hamelin

And somewhere, someone considers the rat as a delicacy or a staple in the diet... Eeeewwwwww!

So, how come rats have survived in spite of us?
Except for the highest mountains and the North and South Poles, rats can be found all over the world. They have survived mass eradication efforts because of their adaptability to any situation. Rats are intelligent and resourceful, having a cautious nature, acute senses, and a problem-solving ability have helped them survive. Rats are omnivorous (feeding on both animal and vegetable substances), and they eat the same foods that we do. Rats are opportunistic. They are both hunter and prey and they possess the instincts of both.
Rats don't need us to survive, but a long time ago, they found they could live quite comfortably by taking advantage of us. Our garbage attracts them, our homes give them warmth and safety, and our crops provide them with a buffet feast. Their nocturnal habits allow them to go about their business, for the most part, uninterrupted by us. One built-in safety instinct that they have is that they taste a small bit of food first. If it doesn't make them sick, they come back for more, thus, they can possibly avoid rat bait. Poisons and traps may fool them once, but if they survive the encounter, they will learn to avoid these devices.

NOTE: The following facts may have been obtained by cruel methods.
Rats can run at a speed of 6 miles per hour.
Rats can jump straight up for 3 feet.
Rats can jump horizontally for 4 feet.
Rats can fall 50 feet and survive un-harmed.
Rats will fight back when cornered.
Rats can swim a half mile out into the open sea.
Rats can swim against a strong current and swim under water.
Rats can tread water for 3 days.
Rats only need to be able to gnaw a hole big enough for their head and the rest of their body will follow.
Rats can gnaw through materials such as paper, cardboard, wood, plastic, insulation, wiring, cinder block, brick, cement, aluminum, and lead.
Rats can walk the narrowest of tight ropes.
Norway Rats are excellent climbers, but are not as agile as Roof Rats.
Norway Rats can burrow to a depth of 4 feet.
Rats can squeeze through an opening, or shimmy up a pipe, inside or out, no bigger then a quarter.

More Reading:
How Many rats are there in the world?
According to the Smithsonian Institute (type the word Rat next to common name), there are over 700 species of rats!

The Norway Rat and the Black Rat are the two most common rat species, and they can be found occupying the same general area. However, The larger, more aggressive, Norway Rat prefers moist conditions and generally lives at ground level in crawl spaces and burrows. The smaller, less aggressive, Black Rat, takes to living above ground, in ceilings and attics, and using trees and roof tops for traveling. In most cases, only one species would be found living in a building at one time.

Keeping Wild Rats Out of Your Home
Warning: This page may be more then you wanted to know about Wild Rats

To find out more on the rats' relationship with man through history, look for this book:

More Cunning Than Man
Enlarge Image

"More Cunning Than Man: A Complete History Of The Rat And Its Role In Human Civilization" by Robert Hendrickson

Rats - Are You Wrong About Them?

More Reading:
Rats Facts
Rat Facts


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