10 Things You Didn't Know About Rats

#1 Origins - Rats originated in Asia and Australia but thanks to human civilisation they have now spread all over the world. They share a lot of characteristics with other rodents and are differentiated from mice by being larger, with longer thinner bodies and long legs.

#2 Size - There are more than 60 species of rat in the world that come in all different sizes. The largest species is the Bosavi woolly rat which is about the size of a domestic cat and weighs around 3.3 lbs. The common brown rat is around 20 inches long and weighs around 12 ounces.

#3 Habitat - Rats are found throughout the world and on every continent with the exception of Antarctica where the temperatures are too low. Over the past few centuries rats have spread globally thanks to humans and boats and are typically found anywhere that humans live.

#4 Habits - Rats are very social animals and generally stick together in groups that are called packs which are normally led by the largest male in the pack. Most rats are nocturnal though the brown rat is often seen during the day as well as at night.

#5 Diet - Common brown rats are omnivores but prefer meat when they can get it. They are happy scavenging for food and their primary source of food is trash from humans. Rats have also been known to eat grain and kill small animals, insects and birds.

#6 Offspring - Generally speaking rats are baby making machines. Female rats can mate around 500 times in a six-hour period and brown rats can have up to 2,000 offspring in a year. The gestation period for rats is around 21 days and by the age of 3 months rats are ready to reproduce.

#7 Lifespan - The maximum lifespan of the brown rat is 3 years although around 95% are thought to only live for around a year due to predators and interspecies conflict.

#8 Social behaviour - Groups of rats commonly groom each other and establish an order of hierarchy with the most dominant male at the top of the hierarchy. They are very social animals and enjoy the company of other rats.

#9 Burrowing - Rats are known to burrow extensively to create shelter and food storage and to escape from threats in the surrounding environment. They normally burrow adjacent to a solid object or structure in order to get a sturdy roof for the section of the burrow.

#10 Teeth - The front teeth of rats grow between 4 ½ to 5 ½ inches each year. Rats wear them down by constantly gnawing on everything including brick, wood, pipes, electrical cable and more.

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