General Rat Information

Rats make squeaking noises, whistles and chirps. Where ever rats are they will also leave evidence by droppings or gnawing marks. Rat dropping sizes range from ½’’-¾’’in in length. Tracks can also be left behind by rats in muddy or dusty surfaces. If you have house pets, such as cats or dogs and they bring home dead rat carcasses, it could also mean a rat infestation might be present.

Rats are wide spread everywhere, in both urban and suburban areas. They are closely associated with humans and mostly active during the night. Rats can cause contamination to food and spread different types of diseases to both people and pets.

Some of the diseases rats may carry are typhus, spotted fever, tularemia, and bubonic plague. Rats can also cause huge environmental damages such as causing floods by tunneling through dams and fires by gnawing on matches or chewing up wires.

(Life cycle and biology):

Although rats are mostly active during the night, they have poor eye sites. Therefore they depend greatly on their other senses of smell, hearing, taste, and touch. Rats constantly explore and learn about the environment they live in; memorizing the locations of pathways, shelter, obstacles, food, and water sources. These smart rodents can quickly detect new objects in their familiar environment and will therefore avoid it for several days or more.

Rats gain entrance into buildings by gnawing, climbing, jumping, or even swimming through sewers and entering through toilets or broken drains. Where ever they settle the rats will mate and nest like all other pests. Rats are prolific breeders and will produce about 7-8 baby rats per litter. Female rats can have about 4-6 litters per year. The infant rats are born 21-23 days after mating and open their eyes 14-17 days after. Reproduction periods for rats become slower during the colder climates such as in winter or when ever food supplies are cut short. After two years, the females lose the capability to reproduce and males lose their capability to fertilize. Baby rats can reach reproductive maturity after 3 months and breeding is most active during the seasons of spring and fall.


Rats will eat about anything and everything from garbage, plants, and to animals. They start scavenging for food shortly after sunset. Rats are omnivorous creatures. However they do favor meat and fresh grain. Rats need at least ½-1oz of water daily when only feeding on dry food. When rats settle in homes they will feed mainly on grains, garbage, and fruits. For rats who settle near poultry houses the rats like to feed on chicken eggs, and young chickens. Some rats even kill and eat young lambs and piglets. These rats not only prey, but also get preyed upon by other predators such as spotted skunks, barn owls, snakes, hawks, weasels, minks, cats, and dogs.


As pets

Specially bred rats have been kept as pets at least since the late 19th century. Pet rats are typically of variants of the species Brown rat, but Black rats and Giant pouched rats are also known to be kept. Pet rats do not pose any more of a health risk than pets such as cats and dogs.Tamed rats are generally friendly and can be taught to perform selected behaviors.

As subjects of scientific research

In 1895, Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts (United States) established a population of domestic white brown rats to study the effects of diet and for other physiological studies. Over the years, rats have been used in many experimental studies, which have added to our understanding of genetics, diseases, the effects of drugs, and other topics that have provided a great benefit for the health and wellbeing of humankind. Laboratory rats have also proved valuable in psychological studies of learning and other mental processes (Barnett, 2002). A 2007 study found rats to possess metacognition, a mental ability previously only documented in humans and some primates.

Domestic rats differ from wild rats in many ways. They are calmer and less likely to bite; they can tolerate greater crowding; they breed earlier and produce more offspring; and their brains, livers, kidneys, adrenal glands, and hearts are smaller (Barnett 2002).

Brown rats are often used as model organisms for scientific research. When conducting genetic research rats are much rarer than mice. When it comes to conducting tests related to intelligence, learning, and drug abuse, rats are a popular choice due to their high intelligence, ingenuity, aggressiveness, and adaptability. Their psychology, in many ways, seems to be similar to humans. Entirely new breeds or “lines” of brown rats like the Wistar rat have been bred for use in laboratories. Much of the genome of Rattus norvegicus has been sequenced.


In medicine

Rats can serve as zoonotic vectors for certain disease, such as Lassa fever and Hantavirus.

In culture

Ancient Romans did not generally differentiate between rats and mice, instead referring to the former as Mus Maximus (big mouse) and the latter as Mus Minimus (little mouse).

On the Isle of Man (a dependancy of the British Crown) there is a taboo against the word “rat.” See longtail for more information.

In Eastern cultures

In Imperial Chinese culture, the rat (sometimes referred to as a mouse) is the first of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac. People born in this year are expected to possess qualities associated with rats, including creativity, honesty, generosity, ambition, a quick temper and wastefulness. People born in a year of the rat are said to get along well with “monkeys” and “dragons,” and to get along poorly with “horses.”In Indian tradition rats are recognized as the vehicle of Lord Ganesh and a rat’s statue is always found in a temple of Ganesh. In the northwestern Indian city of Deshnoke, the rats at the Karni Mata Temple are held to be destined for reincarnation as Sadhus (Hindu holy men). The attending priests feed milk and grain to the rats, of which the pilgrims also partake. Eating food that has been touched by rats is considered a blessing from god.

In Western cultures

Western associations with the rat are generally negative. For instance, “Rats!” is used as a substitute for various vulgar interjections in the English language. These associations do not draw, per se, from any biological or behavioral trait of the rat, but possibly from the association of rats (and fleas) with the 14th-century medieval plague called the Black Death. Rats are seen as vicious, unclean, parasitic animals that steal food and spread disease. However some people in Western cultures keep rats as pets and conversely find them to be tame, clean, intelligent, and playful.Rats are often used in scientific experiments; animal rights activists allege that treatment of rats in this context is cruel. The term “lab rat” is used, typically in a self-effacing manner, to describe a person whose job function requires that they spend a majority of their work time engaged in bench-level research (i.e. a scientist or research assistant).

Live Animal Trap (Squirrels, Chipmunks and Rats) - SmallLive Animal Trap (Squirrels and Rats)

Rat in terminology

Rats are frequently blamed for damaging food supplies and other goods, or spreading disease. Their reputation has carried into common parlance: in the English language, rat is often an insult. It is a term (noun and verb) in criminal slang for an informant – “to rat on someone” is to betray them by informing the authorities of a crime or misdeed they committed. Describing a person as “rat-like” usually implies he is unattractive and suspicious.

Among unions, “rat” is a term for non-union employers or breakers of union contracts, and this is why unions use inflatable rats.

Date: Monday, 17. January 2011 18:13
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