20 Amazing Facts about Rats

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  1. The term rat usually refers to the two main species of house rat, the Norway rat and the Roof rat. Both species originated in Asia, but have spread throughout the world by human travel overseas. They both belong to the genus Rattus, which includes 51 species.
  2. Norway rats have a heavy and thick body about 7 to 10 inches long. They weigh about 10 to 17 ounces. Their color may vary from grayish-brown, a pure gray to a blackish- or reddish-brown. Their underside is gray to yellow-white. Their nose and muzzle are blunt, their eyes are small and their ears are close to the body and won’t cover the eyes if bent forward. Their tail is dark on top with a lighter underside and shorter than their head and body.
  3. Roof rats have a slender body about 6 1/2 to 8 inches long. They weigh about 6 to 12 ounces. Their color varies from black to brownish-gray. Their underside varies from gray to white. Their nose and muzzle are pointed, their eyes are large and prominent and their ears are large and cover the eyes if bent forward. They have a hairless tail which has a uniform color and is longer than their head and body.
  4. Rats have been used throughout history as food for people and pets, religious icons, laboratory animals, pets, mine detectors, animals used in sports (such as the now illegal practices of rat baiting with dogs,) and some have even been trained to drag wires through walls making some electricians’ jobs go much faster.
  5. An adult rat can squeeze into your home through a hole as small as the size of a quarter.
  6. Rats can live for up to 18 months, but most die before they are one year old.
  7. According to the Guinness Book of World Records the longest lived domestic rat died at seven years and four months of age (which far exceeds the 2-3 year expected lifespan.)
  8. Rats have strong teeth that allow them to chew through glass, cinderblock, wire, aluminum and lead.
  9. Rats do not have any thumbs.
  10. Rats are a very clean animal, they spend several hours per day grooming themselves.
  11. Rats have very poor eyesight and are colorblind.
  12. Rats are routinely worshipped and fed in the Karni Devi, a temple completely devoted to them. These thousands of wildrats never gave any of their worshippers infected Bubonic fleas even during the plague years – scientists suspect this is because being territorial they kept invading rats (and their fleas) out of the area.
  13. Most rats are right-handed.
  14. Rats have been proven to make a laughter-like noise (unable to be heard by the human ear alone) when tickled and dream while sleeping.
  15. Inbred laboratory rats are created by breeding brother to sister for at least 300 generations. This produces animals who are more then 99% genetically identical, which is more similar then even current clones are!
  16. Rats have a strong social hierarchy. The biggest and strongest rats will get the best food and harborage.
  17. Rats are very affectionate animals. They love being in the company of their own species or humans. They like playing together and love to sleep curled up together. They take care of the injured and sick rats in their group. When rats don’t have companionship, they can become lonely, depressed, anxious and stressed. A group of rats is called a mischief.
  18. Rats are intelligent animals. They are more intelligent than rabbits, hamsters, mice, gerbils and guinea pigs for instance. They also have excellent memories. Once rats learn a navigation route, they never forget it.
  19. Rats are curious but shy. They prefer to run away rather than confront a potential threat.
  20. Romans considered the rat to be a sign of good luck.

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