Brown rat

Rattus norvegicus

The brown rat, common rat, street rat, sewer rat, Hanover rat, Norway rat, brown Norway rat, Norwegian rat, or wharf rat is one of the best known and most common rats.
Brown rat - Rattus norvegicus Captured in Sofia, at a small city lake. Crossed my path and hid behind some stones. Than curiously looked around from behind the stones for a couple seconds, just allowing me to make a couple of shots. It was long about 15-18 cm (without the tail). Animal,Animalia,Brown rat,Bulgaria,Chordata,Geotagged,Mammalia,Muridae,Nature,Norway rat,Rattus norvegicus,Rodentia,Summer,Wildlife,mammals

Appearance

The fur is coarse and usually brown or dark grey, while the underparts are lighter grey or brown. The length can be up to 25 cm, with the tail a further 25 cm, the same length as the body. Adult body weight averages 550 g in males and about 350 g in females, but a very large individual can reach 900 g. Rats weighing over 1 kg are exceptional, and stories of rats as big as cats are exaggerations, or misidentifications of other rodents, such as the coypu and muskrat.

Brown rats have acute hearing, are sensitive to ultrasound, and possess a very highly developed olfactory sense. Their average heart rate is 300 to 400 beats per minute, with a respiratory rate of around 100 per minute. The vision of a pigmented rat is poor, around 20/600, while a nonpigmented with no melanin in its eyes has both around 20/1200 vision and a terrible scattering of light within its vision. Brown rats are dichromates which perceive colours rather like a human with red-green colorblindness, and their colour saturation may be quite faint. Their blue perception, however, also has UV receptors, allowing them to see ultraviolet lights that some species cannot.
Brown rat - Rattus norvegicus  Animal,Animalia,Brown rat,Central Macedonia,Chordata,Europe,Geotagged,Greece,Mammalia,Muridae,Nea Irakleia,Norway rat,Rattus norvegicus,Rodentia,Summer,Wildlife,mammals

Distribution

Likely originating from the plains of Asia, northern China and Mongolia, the brown rat spread to other parts of the world sometime in the Middle Ages. The question of when brown rats became commensal with humans remains unsettled, but as a species, they have spread and established themselves along routes of human migration and now live almost everywhere humans do.

The brown rat may have been present in Europe as early as 1553, a conclusion drawn from an illustration and description by Swiss naturalist Conrad Gesner in his book "Historiae animalium", published 1551-1558. Though Gesner's description could apply to the black rat, his mention of a large percentage of albino specimens—not uncommon among wild populations of brown rats—adds credibility to this conclusion. Reliable reports dating to the 18th century document the presence of the brown rat in Ireland in 1722, England in 1730, France in 1735, Germany in 1750, and Spain in 1800, becoming widespread during the Industrial Revolution. It did not reach North America until around 1750-1755.

As it spread from Asia, the brown rat generally displaced the black rat in areas where humans lived. In addition to being larger and more aggressive, the change from wooden structures and thatched roofs to bricked and tiled buildings favored the burrowing brown rats over the arboreal black rats. In addition, brown rats eat a wider variety of foods, and are more resistant to weather extremes.

In the absence of humans, brown rats prefer damp environments, such as river banks. However, the great majority are now linked to man-made environments, such as sewage systems.

It is often said that there are as many rats in cities as people, but this varies from area to area depending on climate, living conditions, etc. Brown rats in cities tend not to wander extensively, often staying within 20 m of their nest if a suitable concentrated food supply is available, but they will range more widely where food availability is lower. In New York City, there is great debate over the size of the rat population, with estimates from almost 100 million rats to as few as 250,000. Experts suggest New York is a particularly attractive place for rats because of its aging infrastructure, high moisture and poverty rates. In addition to sewers, rats are very comfortable living in alleyways and residential buildings, as there is usually a large and continuous food source in those areas.

In the United Kingdom, some figures show the rat population has been rising, with estimations that 81 million rats reside in the UK. Those figures would mean there are 1.3 rats per person in the country. High rat populations in the UK are often attributed to the mild climate, which allow them higher survival rates during the winter months.

The only brown rat-free zones in the world are the Arctic, the Antarctic, some especially isolated islands, the province of Alberta in Canada, and certain conservation areas in New Zealand.

Antarctica is almost completely covered by ice and has no permanent human inhabitants, making it uninhabitable by rats. The Arctic has extremely cold winters that rats cannot survive outdoors, and the human population density is extremely low, making it difficult for rats to travel from one habitation to another. When the occasional rat infestation is noticed and eliminated, the rats are unable to reinfest it from an adjacent one. Isolated islands are also able to eliminate rat populations because of low human population density and geographic distance from other rat populations.
Rattus norvegicus  Brown rat,Geotagged,Rattus norvegicus,The Netherlands

Behavior

The brown rat is usually active at night and is a good swimmer, both on the surface and underwater, but unlike the related black rat, they are poor climbers. Brown rats dig well, and often excavate extensive burrow systems. A 2007 study found brown rats to possess metacognition, a mental ability previously only found in humans and some primates, but further analysis suggested they may have been following simple operant conditioning principles.Brown rats are capable of producing ultrasonic vocalizations. As pups, young rats use different types of ultrasonic cries to elicit and direct maternal search behavior, as well as to regulate their mother's movements in the nest. Although pups will produce ultrasounds around any other rats at 7 days old, by 14 days old they significantly reduce ultrasound production around male rats as a defensive response. Adult rats will emit ultrasonic vocalizations in response to predators or perceived danger; the frequency and duration of such cries depends on the sex and reproductive status of the rat. The female rat will also emit ultrasonic vocalizations during mating.Brown rats also produce communicative noises capable of being heard by humans. The most commonly heard in domestic rats is bruxing, or teeth-grinding, which is most usually triggered by happiness, but can also be 'self-comforting' in stressful situations, such as a visit to the vet. The noise is best described as either a quick clicking or 'burring' sound, varying from animal to animal.

In addition, they commonly squeak along a range of tones from high, abrupt pain squeaks to soft, persistent 'singing' sounds during confrontations.The brown rat can breed throughout the year if conditions are suitable, with a female producing up to five litters a year. The gestation period is only 21 days, and litters can number up to 14, although seven is common. They reach sexual maturity in about five weeks. The maximum life span is up to three years, although most barely manage one. A yearly mortality rate of 95% is estimated, with predators and interspecies conflict as major causes.

When lactating, female rats display a 24 hour rhythm of maternal behavior, and will usually spend more time attending to smaller litters than large ones.

Brown rats live in large, hierarchical groups, either in burrows or subsurface places, such as sewers and cellars. When food is in short supply, the rats lower in social order are the first to die. If a large fraction of a rat population is exterminated, the remaining rats will increase their reproductive rate, and quickly restore the old population level.Rats commonly groom each other and sleep together....hieroglyph snipped... As with dogs, rats create a social hierarchy, and each rat has its own place in the pack. Rats are said to establish an order of hierarchy, so one rat will be dominant over another one....hieroglyph snipped... Groups of rats tend to "play fight", which can involve any combination of jumping, chasing, tumbling, and boxing. Play fighting involves rats going for each other's necks, while serious fighting involves strikes at the others' back ends....hieroglyph snipped... If living space become limited, rats may turn to aggressive behavior, which may result in the death of some animals, reducing the burden over the living space.
Brown rat  Brown rat,Geotagged,Rattus norvegicus,The Netherlands

Reproduction

The brown rat can breed throughout the year if conditions are suitable, with a female producing up to five litters a year. The gestation period is only 21 days, and litters can number up to 14, although seven is common. They reach sexual maturity in about five weeks. The maximum life span is up to three years, although most barely manage one. A yearly mortality rate of 95% is estimated, with predators and interspecies conflict as major causes.

When lactating, female rats display a 24 hour rhythm of maternal behavior, and will usually spend more time attending to smaller litters than large ones.

Brown rats live in large, hierarchical groups, either in burrows or subsurface places, such as sewers and cellars. When food is in short supply, the rats lower in social order are the first to die. If a large fraction of a rat population is exterminated, the remaining rats will increase their reproductive rate, and quickly restore the old population level.
Brown Rats Hauxley Nature Reserve,
Northumberland,
03/01/2015 Brown rat,Rattus norvegicus

Food

The brown rat is a true omnivore and will consume almost anything, but cereals form a substantial part of its diet. Martin Schein, founder of the Animal Behavior Society in 1964, studied the diet of brown rats and came to the conclusion that the most-liked foods of brown rats include scrambled eggs, macaroni and cheese, and cooked corn kernels. According to Schein, the least-liked foods were raw beets, peaches, and raw celery.

Foraging behavior is often population-specific, and varies by environment and food source. Brown rats living near a hatchery in West Virginia catch fingerling fish.
Some colonies along the banks of the Po River in Italy will dive for mollusks, a practice demonstrating social learning among members of this species. Rats on the island of Norderoog in the North Sea stalk and kill sparrows and ducks.
Rattus norvegicus - Brown Rat Quite possibly this is the vilest and most despised creature on this earth. There is nothing as disappointing as seeing one of these, trot across your living room. There is nothing quite as blood boiling as being woken by a tickle on your cheek, to find BIG MOMMA staring you in the face. Returning home after a holiday, with a couple of weeks of washing, to discover that the wiring of your washing machine has been rearranged as nesting material comes a close second.

I spent weeks, blocking holes and guarding them, only to discover that they were getting in through the toilet bowl and then dragging their feet and leaving a trail of rat piss around my kitchen. I put a bucket of water on top of the toilet bowl and they STILL got in. The rat chewed a hole, the water drained and the bucket was found the next day by the side of the toilet. I found the hole when I next used the bucket.

My HATE for this creature is way beyond words. Anyone who buys a catch and release trap, has never really had a rat problem, and will receive a contemptible verbal lashing from myself. This is one creature that the world does not need. Yes, it has adapted to man’s slovenly behaviour. But, even if we smarten up out act, this thing is not going away any time soon. 

Location is Bandung, West Java, Indonesia. Streets. Brown rat,Fall,Geotagged,Indonesia,Rattus norvegicus

Uses

Selective breeding of albino brown rats rescued from being killed in a now-outlawed sport called rat baiting has produced the albino laboratory rat. Like mice, these rats are frequently subjects of medical, psychological and other biological experiments, and constitute an important model organism. This is because they grow quickly to sexual maturity and are easy to keep and to breed in captivity. When modern biologists refer to "rats", they almost always mean "Rattus norvegicus".The brown rat is kept as a pet in many parts of the world. Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States are just a few of the countries that have formed fancy rat associations similar in nature to the American Kennel Club, establishing standards, orchestrating events, and promoting responsible pet ownership.

The many different types of domesticated brown rats include variations in coat patterns, as well as the style of the coat, such as Hairless or Rex, and more recently developed variations in body size and structure, including dwarf and tailless fancy rats.

References:

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Status: Least concern
EX EW CR EN VU NT LC
Taxonomy
KingdomAnimalia
DivisionChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderRodentia
FamilyMuridae
GenusRattus
SpeciesR. norvegicus