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This article is about the genus Rattus. For pet rats, see
Fancy rat. For other uses, see Rat (disambiguation).

Rats are various medium-sized, long-tailed rodents of the

superfamily Muroidea.
True rats are members of the genus Rattus, the most
important of which to humans are the black rat, Rattus
rattus, and the brown rat, Rattus norvegicus. Many mem-
bers of other rodent genera and families are also referred
to as rats, and share many characteristics with true rats.
Rats are typically distinguished from mice by their size.
A rat in a city street
Generally, when someone discovers a large muroid ro-
dent, its common name includes the term rat, while if it
is smaller, the name includes the term mouse. The muroid
family is broad and complex, and the common terms rat
and mouse are not taxonomically specic. Scientically,
the terms are not conned to members of the Rattus and
Mus genera, for example, the pack rat and cotton mouse. bandicoot rat (Bandicota bengalensis) are murine rodents
related to true rats, but are not members of the genus
Rattus. Male rats are called bucks, unmated females are
called does, pregnant or parent females are called dams,
1 Species and description and infants are called kittens or pups. A group of rats is
referred to as a mischief.[2]
The common species are opportunistic survivors and of-
ten live with and near humans; therefore, they are known
as commensals. They may cause substantial food losses,
especially in developing countries.[3] However, the widely
distributed and problematic commensal species of rats
are a minority in this diverse genus. Many species of rats
are island endemics and some have become endangered
due to habitat loss or competition with the brown, black
or Polynesian rat.[4]
Wild rodents, including rats, can carry many dier-
ent zoonotic pathogens, such as Leptospira, Toxoplasma
gondii, and Campylobacter.[5] The Black Death is tra-
ditionally believed to have been caused by the micro-
A river rat, which is not a true rat but a coypu, a distantly related
organism Yersinia pestis, carried by the tropical rat ea
rodent species
(Xenopsylla cheopis) which preyed on black rats living
The best-known rat species are the black rat (Rattus rat- in European cities during the epidemic outbreaks of the
tus) and the brown rat (Rattus norvegicus). The group is Middle Ages; these rats were used as transport hosts. An-
generally known as the Old World rats or true rats, and other zoonotic disease linked to the rat is the foot-and-
originated in Asia. Rats are bigger than most Old World mouth disease.[6]
mice, which are their relatives, but seldom weigh over 500 The average lifespan of any given rat depends on which
grams (1.1 lb) in the wild.[1] species is being discussed, but many only live about a year
The term rat is also used in the names of other small due to predation.
mammals which are not true rats. Examples include The black and brown rats diverged from other Old World
the North American pack rats, a number of species rats during the beginning of the Pleistocene in the forests
loosely called kangaroo rats, and others. Rats such as the of Asia.[8]


A rat in a suburb of Vancouver Murid Tail Microscopy Cross Section

2 Rat Tail
The characteristic long tail of most rodents is a feature
that has been extensively studied in various rat species
models, which subsequently suggest three primary func-
tions of this structure: thermoregulation, minor proprio-
ception, and a nocifensive-mediated degloving response.
Rodent tails, particularly in rat models, has been impli-
cated with a thermoregulation function that follows from
its anatomical construction. This particular tail morphol-
ogy is evident across the Muridae family (in contrast to
the bushier tails of the Squirrel/Sciuridae family). The
tail is hairless and thin-skinned, but highly vascularized,
thus allowing for ecient counter-current heat exchange Murid Tail Dissection (Lateral View)
with the environment. The high muscular and connec-
tive tissue densities of the tail, along with ample muscle
attachment sites along its plentiful caudal vertebrae facil-
itate specic proprioceptive senses to help orient the ro-
dent in a three dimensional environment. Lastly, murids
have evolved a unique defense mechanism termed de-
gloving which allows for escape from predation through
the loss of the outermost integument layer on the tail.
However, this mechanism is associated with multiple
pathologies that have been the subject of investigation.

Rattus rattus (Murid) Tail Dissected

Multiple studies have explored the thermoregulatory ca-

pacity of rodent tails by subjecting test organisms to vary-
ing levels of physical activity and quantifying heat con-
duction via the animals tails. One study demonstrated
a signicant disparity in heat dissipation from a rats tail
relative to its abdomen.[9] This observation was attributed
to the higher proportion of vascularity in the tail, as well
Coronal Cross Section of Histological Layers in Murid Tail as its higher surface area to volume ratio, which directly
relates to heats ability to dissipate via the skin. These

ndings were conrmed in a separate study analyzing the

relationships of heat storage and mechanical eciency in
rodents that exercise in warm environments. In this study,
the tail was a focal point in measuring heat accumulation
and modulation.
On the other hand, the tails ability to function as a pro-
prioceptive sensor/modulator has also been investigated.
As aforementioned, the tail demonstrates a high degree of
muscularization and subsequent innervation that ostensi-
bly collaborate in orienting the organism.[10] Specically,
this is accomplished by coordinated exion and extension
of tail muscles to produce slight shifts in the organisms
center of mass, orientation, etc., which ultimately assists
it with achieving a state of proprioceptive balance in its
environment. Further mechanobiological investigations
of the constituent tendons in the tail of the rat have identi-
ed multiple factors that inuence how the organism navi-
gates its environment with this structure. A particular ex-
ample is that of a study in which the morphology of these
tendons is explicated in detail.[11] Namely, cell viability
A domesticated rat
tests of tendons of the rats tail demonstrate a higher pro-
portion of living broblasts that produce the collagen for
these bers. As in humans, these tendons contain a high 4 As subjects for scientic research
density of golgi tendon organs that help the animal assess
stretching of muscle in situ and adjust accordingly by re-
Main article: Laboratory rat
laying the information to higher cortical areas associated
In 1895, Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts
with balance, proprioception, and movement.
The characteristic tail of Murids also displays a unique
defense mechanism known as "degloving" in which the
outer layer of the integument can be detached in order
to facilitate the animals escape from a predator. Inter-
estingly, however, this evolutionary selective pressure has
persisted despite a multitude of pathologies that can man-
ifest upon shedding part of the tail and exposing more in-
terior elements to the environment.[12] Paramount among
these are bacterial and viral infection, as the high density
of vascular tissue within the tail becomes exposed upon
avulsion or similar injury to the structure. The degloving
response is a nocifensive response, meaning that it occurs
when the animal is subjected to acute pain, such as when
a predator snatches the organism by the tail. A laboratory rat strain, known as a Zucker rat, bred to be genet-
ically prone to diabetes, a metabolic disorder also found among

(United States) established a population of domestic al-

3 As pets bino brown rats to study the eects of diet and for other
physiological studies. Over the years, rats have been
used in many experimental studies, which have added
Main article: Fancy rat to our understanding of genetics, diseases, the eects of
Specially bred rats have been kept as pets at least since drugs, and other topics that have provided a great benet
the late 19th century. Pet rats are typically variants of the for the health and well-being of humankind. The aortic
species brown rat, but black rats and giant pouched rats arches of the rat are among the most commonly studied
are also known to be kept. Pet rats behave dierently in murine models due to marked anatomical homology to
from their wild counterparts depending on how many the human cardiovascular system.[15] Both rat and human
generations they have been kept as pets.[13] Pet rats do aortic arches exhibit subsequent branching of the bra-
not pose any more of a health risk than pets such as cats chiocephalic trunk, left common cartoid artery and left
or dogs.[14] Tamed rats are generally friendly and can be subclavian artery, as well as geometrically similar, non-
taught to perform selected behaviors. planar curvature in the aortic branches.[15] Aortic arches

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, such as the Wistar
rat, have been bred for use in laboratories. Much of the
genome of Rattus norvegicus has been sequenced.[21]

4.1 General intelligence

Because of evident displays of their ability to learn,[22]

rats were investigated early to see whether they exhibit
general intelligence, as expressed by the denition of
a g factor and observed in larger, more complex ani-
mals. Early studies ca. 1930 found evidence both for and
against such a g factor in rat.[23][24] Quoting Galsworthy,
with regard to the armative 1935 Thorndike work:[25]

Robert Thorndike, for example, provided

strong evidence for g in rats by the use of
a variety of tests such as mazes, problem-
solving tasks, and simple avoidance condition-
ing... Performances tended to correlate across
tasks, with stronger associations found between
mazes and problem-solving than with simple
avoidance tasks. Thorndike... also reviewed
In vivo Aortic arch of species Rattus rattus with all lung lobes a dozen earlier studies which also suggested
removed from the thoracic cavity that the highest correlations are found between
more complex problem-solving tasks. How-
ever, it should be noted that there were other
contemporary studies that found split or near
studied in rats exhibit abnormalities similar to those of
zero-order correlation matrices for other pop-
humans, including altered pulmonary arteries and dou-
ulations of rats across cognitive batteries...[25]
ble or absent aortic arches.[16] Despite existing anatomi-
cal analogy in the inthrathoracic position of the heart it-
self, the murine model of the heart and its structures re- However, some more contemporary work has not sup-
mains a valuable tool for studies of human cardiovascular ported the earlier armative view.[26] Throughout the
conditions.[17] 1990s and into the 2000s, series of articles have ap-
Laboratory rats have also proved valuable in psychologi- peared attempting to address the question of general in-
cal studies of learning and other mental processes (Bar- telligence in this species, through measurements of tasks
nett, 2002), as well as to understand group behavior performed by rats and mice, e.g., with statistical evalu-
and overcrowding (with the work of John B. Calhoun ation by factor analysis, and seeking to correlate general
on behavioral sink). A 2007 study found rats to pos- intelligence and brain size (as is done with humans and
sess metacognition, a mental ability previously only doc- primates), where the general conclusion was in the af-
umented in humans and some primates.[18][19] rmative.

Domestic rats dier from wild rats in many ways. They

are calmer and less likely to bite; they can tolerate greater 4.2 Social intelligence
crowding; they breed earlier and produce more ospring;
and their brains, livers, kidneys, adrenal glands, and A 2011 controlled study found that rats are actively
hearts are smaller (Barnett 2002). prosocial.[28] They demonstrate apparent altruistic be-
Brown rats are often used as model organisms for scien- haviour to other rats in experiments, including freeing
tic research. Since the publication of the rat genome them from cages: when presented with readily available
sequence,[20] and other advances, such as the creation of chocolate chips, test subjects would rst free the caged
a rat SNP chip, and the production of knockout rats, the rat, and then share the food. All female rats in the study
laboratory rat has become a useful genetic tool, although displayed this behaviour, while 30% of the males did
not as popular as mice. When it comes to conducting tests not.[29][30]

5 As food Flesh of rat is eaten in Taiwan.[57][58]

Bandicoot rats are an important food source among some
peoples in Southeast Asia, and the United Nations Food
and Agriculture Organization estimated rat meat makes
up half the locally produced meat consumed in Ghana,
where cane rats are farmed and hunted for their meat.
African slaves in the American South were known to
hunt wood rats (among other animals) to supplement their
food rations,[59] and Aborigines along the coast in south-
ern Queensland, Australia, regularly included rats in their
Riceeld rats (Rattus argentiventer) have traditionally
been used as food in rice-producing regions such as
Valencia, as immortalized by Vicente Blasco Ibez in
his novel Caas y barro. Along with eel and local beans
known as garrafons, rata de marjal (marsh rat) is one
of the main ingredients in traditional paella (later re-
Rat meat dishes in Yangshuo, Guangxi, China
placed by rabbit, chicken and seafood).[61] Riceeld rats
are also consumed in the Philippines, the Isaan region of
Rat meat is a food that, while taboo[31][32] in some cul- Thailand, and Cambodia. In late 2008, Reuters reported
tures, is a dietary staple in others. Taboos include fears ofthe price of rat meat had quadrupled in Cambodia, cre-
disease or religious prohibition, but in many places, the ating a hardship for the poor who could no longer aord
high number of rats has led to their incorporation into the it.
local diets. Elsewhere in the world, rat meat is considered diseased
In some cultures, rats are or have been limited as an ac- and unclean, socially unacceptable, or there are strong
ceptable form of food to a particular social or economic religious proscriptions against it. Islam and Kashrut tra-
class. In the Mishmi culture of India, rats are essential to ditions prohibit it, while both the Shipibo people of Peru
the traditional diet, as Mishmi women may eat no meat and Sirion people of Bolivia have cultural taboos against
except sh, pork, wild birds and rats.[33] Conversely, the the eating of rats.[62][63]
Musahar community in north India has commercialised Rats are a common food item for snakes, both in the wild,
rat farming as an exotic delicacy.[34] In the traditional cul- and as pets. Adult rat snakes and ball pythons, for exam-
tures of the Hawaiians and the Polynesians, rat was an ple, are fed a diet of mostly rats in captivity. Rats are
everyday food for commoners. When feasting, the Poly- readily available (live or frozen) to individual snake own-
nesian people of Rapa Nui could eat rat meat, but the king ers, as well as to pet shops and reptile zoos, from many
was not allowed to, due to the islanders belief in his state suppliers. In Britain, the government prohibited the feed-
of sacredness called tapu.[35] In studying precontact ar- ing of any live mammal to another animal in 2007. The
chaeological sites in Hawaii, archaeologists have found rule says the animal must be dead before it is given to the
the concentration of the remains of rats associated with animal to eat. The rule was put into place mainly because
commoner households accounted for three times the an- of the pressure of the RSPCA and people who said the
imal remains associated with elite households. The rat feeding of live animals was cruel.
bones found in all sites are fragmented, burned and cov-
ered in carbonized material, indicating the rats were eaten
as food. The greater occurrence of rat remains associated
with commoner households may indicate the elites of pre-
6 Working rats
contact Hawaii did not consume them as a matter of status
or taste.[36] Main article: Working rat
France has several regions where people consume rat like
Rat stew is consumed in American cuisine in the state 7 For odor detection
of West Virginia and it was also eaten in France in
old Bordeaux.[42][43] In France and Victorian Britain Rats have a keen sense of smell and are easy to train.
rich people ate rat pie.[44] During food rationing due These characteristics have been employed, for example,
to World War II, British biologists ate laboratory rat, by the Belgian non-governmental organization APOPO,
creamed.[45][46][47][48][49][50] which trains rats (specically African giant pouched rats)
Rat meat is eaten in Vietnamese to detect landmines and diagnose tuberculosis through
cuisine.[51][52][53][54][55][56] smell.[22]

8 In the spread of disease 10 As invasive species

Rats can serve as zoonotic vectors for certain pathogens When introduced into locations where rats previously did
and thus spread disease, such as bubonic plague, Lassa not exist they can cause a huge amount of environmental
fever, leptospirosis, and Hantavirus infection.[64] degradation. Rattus rattus, the black rat, is considered
to be one of the worlds worst invasive species.[74] Also
known as the ship rat, it has been carried worldwide as a
stowaway on sea-going vessels for millennia and has usu-
ally accompanied men to any new area visited or settled
9 As pests by human beings by sea. The similar but more aggres-
sive species Rattus norvegicus, the brown rat or wharf
rat, has also been carried worldwide by ships in recent
The ship or wharf rat has contributed to the extinction
of many species of wildlife including birds, small mam-
mals, reptiles, invertebrates, and plants, especially on is-
lands. True rats are omnivorous and capable of eating
a wide range of plant and animal foods. True rats have
a very high birth rate. When introduced to a new area,
they quickly reproduce to take advantage of the new food
supply. In particular, they prey on the eggs and young of
forest birds, which on isolated islands often have no other
predators and thus have no fear of predators.[75] Some ex-
Rodent Bait Station, Chennai, India perts believe that rats are to blame for between 40 percent
and 60 percent of all seabird and reptile extinctions, with
Rats have long been considered deadly pests. Once 90 percent of those occurring on islands. Thus man has
considered a modern myth, the rat ood in India has indirectly caused the extinction of many [76]
species by acci-
now been veried. Indeed, every fty years, armies of dentally introducing rats to new areas.
bamboo rats descend upon rural areas and devour every-
thing in their path.[65] Rats have long been held up as
the chief villain in the spread of the Bubonic Plague,[66] 11 Rat-free areas
however recent studies show that they alone could not ac-
count for the rapid spread of the disease through Europe
in the Middle Ages.[67] Still, the Center for Disease Con- The only rat-free continent is Antarctica, due to its hostile
trol does list nearly a dozen diseases [68] directly linked climate which is too severe for rat survival, and its lack
to rats. Most urban areas battle rat infestations. Rats in of human habitation to provide buildings to shelter them
from the weather. However, rats have been introduced
New York City are famous for their size and prevalence.
The urban legend that the rat population in Manhattan to many of the islands near Antarctica, and because of
their destructive eect on native ora and fauna, eorts
equals that of its human population (a myth denitively
refuted by Robert Sullivan in his book Rats) speaks vol- to eradicate them are ongoing. In particular, Bird Island
(just o rat-infested South Georgia Island), where breed-
umes about New Yorkers awareness of the presence, and
on occasion boldness and cleverness, of the rodents. [69] ing seabirds could be badly aected if rats were intro-
duced, is subject to special measures and regularly mon-
New York has specic regulations for getting rid of rats [77]
multi-family residences and commercial businesses must itored for rat invasions.
use a specially trained and licensed exterminator.[70] Rats As part of island restoration some islands rat populations
have the ability to swim up sewer pipes into toilets.[71][72] have been eradicated to protect or restore the ecology.
Places to look for rat infestations are around pipes, be- Hawadax Island, Alaska was declared rat free after 229
hind walls and near garbage cans. Eective rat control years and Campbell Island, New Zealand after almost 200
requires municipal workers and individuals to work to- years. Breaksea Island in New Zealand was declared rat
gether. free in 1988 after an eradication campaign based on a
In the United States, cities tend to be breeding grounds successful trial on the smaller Hawea Island nearby.
for rat infestations and according to a 2015 study by In January 2015 an international Rat Team set sail from
the American Housing Survey (AHS) found that 18% the Falkland Islands for the British Overseas Territory of
of the homes in Philadelphia found evidence of rodents. South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands on board
This was followed by Boston, New York City, and then a ship carrying three helicopters and 100 tons of rat poi-
Washington DC as the cities with the largest rat and mice son with the objective of reclaiming the island for its
problems.[73] seabirds. Rats have wiped out more than 90% of the

seabirds on South Georgia, and the sponsors hope that 12 Taxonomy of Rattus
once the rats are gone, it will regain its former status
as home to the greatest concentration of seabirds in the The genus Rattus is a member of the giant sub-
world. The South Georgia Heritage Trust, which orga- family Murinae. Several other murine genera are
nized the mission describes it as ve times larger than sometimes considered part of Rattus: Lenothrix,
any other rodent eradication attempted worldwide.[78] Anonymomys, Sundamys, Kadarsanomys, Diplothrix,
That would be true if it were not for the rat control pro- Margaretamys, Lenomys, Komodomys, Palawanomys,
gram in Alberta (see below). Bunomys, Nesoromys, Stenomys, Taeromys, Paruromys,
The Canadian province of Alberta (population 4.1 mil- Abditomys, Tryphomys, Limnomys, Tarsomys, Bullimus,
lion) is notable for being the largest inhabited area on Apomys, Millardia, Srilankamys, Niviventer, Maxomys,
Earth (bigger than any country in the European Union in- Leopoldamys, Berylmys, Mastomys, Myomys, Praomys,
cluding France) which is free of true rats. It has large Hylomyscus, Heimyscus, Stochomys, Dephomys, and
numbers of pack rats, also called bushy-tailed wood Aethomys.
rats, but they are native species which are much less de- The genus Rattus proper contains 64 extant species. A
structive than true rats. They are forest-dwelling vegetar- subgeneric breakdown of the species has been proposed,
ians, and their worst trait is that because of their attraction but does not include all species.
for shiny objects, they tend to sneak into cabins and hotels
and steal jewelry, silverware, and other valuable items.[79]
Alberta is one of only two Canadian provinces with no sea 12.1 Species
access, and was settled relatively late in North American
history. The black rat cannot survive in its climate at all, Genus Rattus Typical rats
and brown rats must live near people and their structures.
They cannot evade the numerous predators in natural ar- incertae sedis
eas or survive the winters in farm elds. It took until 1950 Annandales rat (Rattus annandalei) Indone-
for invading rats to make their way to Alberta over land sia, Malaysia, and Singapore
from Eastern Canada.[80] Immediately upon their arrival
Enggano rat (Rattus enganus) Indonesia
at the eastern border with Saskatchewan, the Alberta gov-
ernment implemented an extremely aggressive rat control Philippine forest rat (Rattus everetti) the
program to stop them from advancing further. A system- Philippines
atic detection and eradication system was used through- Polynesian rat (Rattus exulans) Fiji and most
out a control zone about 600 kilometres (400 mi) long Polynesian islands, New Zealand, Easter Is-
and 30 kilometres (20 mi) wide along the eastern bor- land, and Hawaii
der of the province to eliminate rat infestations before
Hainalds rat (Rattus hainaldi) Indonesia
the rats could spread further into the province. Shotguns,
bulldozers, high explosives, poison gas, and incendiaries Hoogerwerfs rat (Rattus hoogerwer) In-
were used to destroy rats. Numerous farm buildings were donesia
destroyed in the process. Initially, tons of arsenic tri- Korinchs rat (Rattus korinchi) Indonesia
oxide were spread around thousands of farm yards to Maclears rat (Rattus macleari) Christmas
poison rats, but soon after the program commenced the Island
rodenticide and medical drug warfarin was introduced,
which is much safer for people (it is a commonly pre- Nillu rat (Rattus montanus) Sri Lanka
scribed medicine), and more eective at killing rats than Molaccan prehensile-tailed rat (Rattus moro-
arsenic.[81] taiensis) Indonesia
Forceful government control measures, strong public sup- Bulldog rat (Rattus nativitatis) Christmas Is-
port and enthusiastic citizen participation continue to land
keep rat infestations to a minimum.[82] The eective- Kerala rat (Rattus ranjiniae) India
ness has been aided by a similar but newer program in
New Ireland forest rat (Rattus sanila)
Saskatchewan which prevents rats from even reaching
the Alberta border. The program still actively employs Andaman rat (Rattus stoicus) Andaman Is-
an armed rat patrol (in this case, not just a TV show) lands
along Albertas borders, about ten single rats are found Timor rat (Rattus timorensis) Timor
and killed per year, and occasionally a large localized in-
festation has to be dug out with heavy machinery, but the R. norvegicus group
number of rat infestations (two or more rats) found in Himalayan eld rat (Rattus nitidus)
most recent years has averaged about three, and in many Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Indone-
years has been zero.[83] sia, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Palau, the
Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam

Brown rat or Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus) Yellow-tailed rat (Rattus xanthurus) Indone-
worldwide except Antarctica sia
Turkestan rat (Rattus pyctoris; obs. Rattus
R. leucopus group (New Guinean group)
turkestanicus) Afghanistan, China, India,
Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, and Pakistan Vogelkop mountain rat (Rattus arfakiensis)
R. rattus group Western New Guinea mountain rat (Rattus ar-
Sunburned rat (Rattus adustus) Enggano Is-
land, Indonesia Sula rat (Rattus elaphinus) Indonesia
Sikkim rat (Rattus andamanensis) Bhutan, Spiny Ceram rat (Rattus feliceus) Indonesia
Cambodia, China, India, Laos, Myanmar, Giluwe rat (Rattus giluwensis) Papua New
Nepal, Thailand, and Vietnam Guinea
Riceeld rat (Rattus argentiventer) Southeast Japen rat (Rattus jobiensis) Indonesia
Cape York rat (Rattus leucopus) Australia,
Summit rat (Rattus baluensis) Malaysia Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea
Aceh rat (Rattus blangorum) Eastern rat (Rattus mordax) Papua New
Nonsense rat (Rattus burrus) India Guinea
Homanns rat (Rattus homanni) Indonesia Moss-forest rat (Rattus niobe) Papua New
Koopmans rat (Rattus koopmani) Indonesia Guinea, Indonesia
Lesser riceeld rat (Rattus losea) China, New Guinean rat (Rattus novaeguineae)
Laos, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam Papua New Guinea
Mentawai rat (Rattus lugens) Indonesia Arianuss rat (Rattus omichlodes)
Mindoro black rat (Rattus mindorensis) the Pococks highland rat (Rattus pococki)
Philippines Large New Guinea spiny rat (Rattus praetor)
Little soft-furred rat (Rattus mollicomulus) Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Solomon
Indonesia Islands
Osgoods rat (Rattus osgoodi) Vietnam Glacier rat (Rattus richardsoni) Indonesia
Palm rat (Rattus palmarum) India Steins rat (Rattus steini) Indonesia and Papua
Black rat (Rattus rattus) worldwide except New Guinea
Antarctica Van Deusens rat (Rattus vandeuseni) Papua
Sahyadris forest rat (Rattus satarae) New Guinea
Simalur rat (Rattus simalurensis) Indonesia Slender rat (Rattus verecundus) Indonesia
and Papua New Guinea
Tanezumi rat (Rattus tanezumi) Afghanistan,
Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Cocos (Keel- R. fuscipes group (Australian group)
ing) Islands, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan,
North Korea, South Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Dusky rat (Rattus colletti) Australia
Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines,
Bush rat (Rattus fuscipes) Australia
Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam
Australian swamp rat (Rattus lutreolus) Aus-
Tawitawi forest rat (Rattus tawitawiensis) the
Malayan eld rat (Rattus tiomanicus) Indone- Dusky eld rat (Rattus sordidus) Australia,
sia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea
Pale eld rat (Rattus tunneyi) Australia
R. xanthurus group
Long-haired rat (Rattus villosissimus) Aus-
Bonthain rat (Rattus bontanus; obs. Rattus tralia
foramineus) Indonesia
Opossum rat (Rattus marmosurus) Indonesia
12.2 Phylogeny
Peleng rat (Rattus pelurus) Indonesia
Southeastern xanthurus rat (Rattus salocco]) The following phylogeny of selected Rattus species is
Indonesia from Pags, et al. (2010).[84]
13.3 Fiction 9

13 In culture and conversely nd them to be tame, clean, intelligent,

and playful.
Ancient Romans did not generally dierentiate between Rats are often used in scientic experiments; animal
rats and mice, instead referring to the former as mus max-
rights activists allege the treatment of rats in this context
imus (big mouse) and the latter as mus minimus (littleis cruel. The term lab rat is used, typically in a self-
mouse). eacing manner, to describe a person whose job function
On the Isle of Man, there is a taboo against the word requires them to spend a majority of their work time en-
"rat".[85] gaged in bench-level research (such as postgraduate stu-
dents in the sciences).

13.1 Asian cultures

13.2.1 Terminology
Main article: Rat (zodiac)
Rats are frequently blamed for damaging food supplies
and other goods, or spreading disease. Their reputa-
The rat (sometimes referred to as a mouse) is the rst of
tion has carried into common parlance: in the English
the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac. People born in
language, rat is often an insult or is generally used
this year are expected to possess qualities associated with
to signify an unscrupulous character; it is also used,
rats, including creativity, intelligence, honesty, generos-
as the term nark, to mean an individual who works as
ity, ambition, a quick temper and wastefulness. People
a police informant or who has turned states evidence.
born in a year of the rat are said to get along well with
Writer/director Preston Sturges created the humorous
monkeys and dragons, and to get along poorly with
alias Ratskywatsky for a soldier who seduced, impreg-
nated, and abandoned the heroine of his 1944 lm, The
Miracle of Morgans Creek. 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 or she is unattractive and suspi-
Among trade unions, the word rat is also a term for
nonunion employers or breakers of union contracts, and
this is why unions use inatable rats.[86]

13.3 Fiction
The indigenous rats are allowed to run freely throughout the
Karni Mata Temple.
See also: Fancy rat Fiction
Depictions of rats in ction are historically inaccurate
In Indian tradition, rats are seen as the vehicle of
and negative. The most common falsehood is the squeak-
Ganesha, and a rats statue is always found in a temple
ing almost always heard in otherwise realistic portrayals
of Ganesh. In the northwestern Indian city of Deshnoke,
(i.e. nonanthropomorphic). While the recordings may be
the rats at the Karni Mata Temple are held to be destined
of actual squeaking rats, the noise is uncommon they
for reincarnation as Sadhus (Hindu holy men). The at-
may do so only if distressed, hurt, or annoyed. Normal
tending priests feed milk and grain to the rats, of which
vocalizations are very high-pitched, well outside the range
the pilgrims also partake.
of human hearing. Rats are also often cast in vicious and
aggressive roles when in fact, their shyness helps keep
them undiscovered for so long in an infested home.
13.2 European cultures
The actual portrayals of rats vary from negative to pos-
European associations with the rat are generally negative. itive with a majority in the negative and ambiguous.[87]
For instance, Rats!" is used as a substitute for various The rat plays a villain in several mouse societies; from
vulgar interjections in the English language. These asso- Brian Jacquess Redwall and Robin Jarviss The Dept-
ciations do not draw, per se, from any biological or be- ford Mice, to the roles of Disneys Professor Ratigan and
havioral trait of the rat, but possibly from the association Kate DiCamillos Roscuro and Botticelli. They have of-
of rats (and eas) with the 14th-century medieval plague ten been used as a mechanism in horror; being the titular
called the Black Death. Rats are seen as vicious, unclean, evil in stories like The Rats or H.P. Lovecrafts The Rats in
parasitic animals that steal food and spread disease. How- the Walls [87] and in lms like Willard and Ben. Another
ever, some people in European cultures keep rats as pets terrifying use of rats is as a method of torture, for instance

ogy at the home world of an alien race which previously

invaded Earth and introduced some of its own fauna into
its environment. And A. Bertram Chandler pitted his
space-bound protagonist, Commodore Grimes, against
giant, intelligent rats who took over several stellar sys-
tems and enslaved their human inhabitants. "The Stain-
less Steel Rat" is nickname of the (human) protagonist
of a series of humorous science ction novels written by
Harry Harrison.

13.3.1 The Pied Piper

Main article: Pied Piper of Hamelin

One of the oldest and most historic stories about rats is

The Pied Piper of Hamelin, in which a rat-catcher leads
away an infestation with enchanted music. The piper is
later refused payment, so he in turn leads away the towns
children. This tale, traced to Germany around the late
13th century, has inspired adaptations in lm, theatre, lit-
erature, and even opera. The subject of much research,
some theories have intertwined the tale with events re-
lated to the Black Plague, in which black rats played an
Imperial Japan was depicted as a rat in a World War II United
States Navy propaganda poster.
important role. Fictional works based on the tale that
focus heavily on the rat aspect include Pratchetts The
Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents, and Belgian
in Room 101 in George Orwells Nineteen Eighty-Four or graphic novel Le Bal du Rat Mort (The Ball of the Dead
The Pit and the Pendulum by Edgar Allan Poe. Rat).

Selsh helpfulness those willing to help for a price

has also been attributed to ctional rats.[87] Templeton,
from E. B. Whites Charlottes Web, repeatedly reminds
14 See also
the other characters that he is only involved because it
means more food for him, and the cellar-rat of John List of ctional rodents
Maseelds The Midnight Folk requires bribery to be of
Oriental rat ea
any assistance.
By contrast, the rats appearing in the Doctor Dolittle Rat-baiting
books tend to be highly positive and likeable characters,
many of whom tell their remarkable life stories in the Working rat
Mouse and Rat Club established by the animal-loving Fancy rat
Some ctional works use rats as the main characters. No-
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[73] Clark, Patrick (2017-01-17). The Most Vermin-Infested Impact on Us, and Our Impact on Them, Allen & Un-
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[81] The History of Rat Control In Alberta. Alberta Depart- Musser, G. G. and M. D. Carleton. 1993. Fam-
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Sullivan, Robert (2004). Rats: A Year with New
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Hugot, Jean-Pierre; Morand, Serge; Michaux, Johan
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Rat Genome Database

Texts on Wikisource:
"Rat". New International Encyclopedia. 1905.
"Rat". Encyclopdia Britannica (11th ed.).
"Rat". Encyclopedia Americana. 1920.

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