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Rat Facts

Rats can be a terrible thing to see running around your house. These little creatures can cause a household a lot of freak out. However, are they really as bad as they appear to be? Or maybe we just have some crazy instinctive fear? Found this article about rats which gives some simplified rat facts.

Knowing the reasons why rats might find their way into your home and subsequently make it their own home is half the battle in keeping rats out. If you have a problem that extends beyond prevention, you may benefit from getting professional help. Once rats (and mice) gain access into your home and decide to stick around getting rid of them is a tough and ongoing hassle.


Information from LiveScience.com


Rats are found all over the world. For example, the rice-field rat is found in Southeast Asia, the Australian swamp rat is found in Eastern Australia, and the Norway rat, also called brown rats, is found on every continent of the world except Antarctica, according to the Animal Diversity Web at the University of Michigan.

The brown and the house rat are the most common rats in the world because they have taken boats to every country over the past few centuries. House rats typically like warmer climates, while brown rats live in temperate climates. They typically live anywhere humans live. Many rat species also live in trees.


Overall, rats live to forage and mate. Most rats are nocturnal, though the brown rat is often awake day or night.

Rats usually stick together in groups called packs. New packs are formed when a male and female go off on their own and nest in an area that doesn’t already contain a pack. Brown rats are usually led by the largest male in the pack. Other rats may have several dominant males or females in a pack.


Rats are omnivores, but many prefer meat when they can get it. House and brown rats usually use humans for their primary food source. They will scavenge through trash or eat any food that is left unprotected.

Rats have also been known to eat grain or kill insects, water creatures such as snails, fish and mussels, small birds, mammals and reptiles for food. Other rats, such as the Sulawesi white-tailed rat and Hoffman’s rat, prefer vegetarian fair such as seed and fruits, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.


Before their offspring are born, rats build nests from any material that can be foraged from the area, including branches, grass, trash and paper. These nests are usually built in crevices, in rotting trees or in buildings.

Rats, generally, are baby-making machines. Female rats can mate around 500 times in a six-hour period and brown rats can produce up to 2,000 offspring in a year, according to Discover Magazine. Brown rats can have up to 22 young at once, though eight or nine is more the average. Tropical rats tend to only have one to six babies at once.

After a gestation period of 21 to 26 days, babies that weigh only around 6 to 8 grams (.21 to .28 ounces) are born, according to the American Fancy Rat and Mouse Association. By the age of three months, the brown rat is ready to reproduce. Rats typically live around two or three years. Most house rats — 91 to 97 percent — die within their first year of life, according to the University of Michigan.

Other facts

Brown and house rats have made a number of mammal, bird and reptile species extinct, especially on oceanic islands, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. They have also spread of diseases among humans, including bubonic plague.

Rats aren’t all bad, though. Brown rats are used in laboratories for research. In fact, according to the Foundation for Biomedical Research, 95 percent of all lab animals are mice and rats.

A rat’s front teeth grow 4.5 to 5.5 in (11 to 14 cm) each year, according to Discover Magazine.

Additional resources

Discover Magazine: 20 Things You Didn’t Know About Rats
Internet Center for Wildlife Damage and Management: Norway Rats
US Fish and Wildlife Service: Facts About Rats

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