Animals

15 Brown Rat Facts You’ll Never Forget

Brown rat facts on the sewer rat species present in urban areas.
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The brown rat is naturally the most common rat that we all have seen. They are also known as sewer rats, street rats, Hanover rats, wharf rats, Norwegian rats, Norway rats, or Parisian rats and can be found in almost every part of the world. They may have originated in northern China and spread across all continents except Antarctica. We find them in rural and urban settings adapting well to any sort of place and even living around humans. Selective breeding of the brown rat has given us the fancy rat and the laboratory rat, which are domesticated subspecies. The fancy rat is kept as a pet, and the lab rat is used for biological research. Why it is called the Norwegian rat is still unknown, as the rat originated in China. The fur of the brown rat is brown or gray, with the underparts being a lighter shade of the same color.

The brown rat is a larger murid and weighs two times more than the black rat or many times more than the house mouse. The Norway rat has an acute hearing sense and is sensitive to ultrasound along with a highly attuned olfactory sense. Their heart rate is 300-400 beats per minute. Brown rats have poor vision but are excellent swimmers and nocturnal creatures. They dig unique brown rat burrows around their habitat to move around without being detected. The brown rat makes a high-frequency short ultrasonic, socially induced sound when they are played with, tickled, or in the process of mating. This chirping is associated with positive emotions and feelings. After reading these fun facts about the brown rat species, do check our other articles on capybara facts and red squirrel facts as well.

Brown Rat

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Insects, Birds Eggs, Small Mammals

What do they eat?

Omnivores

Average litter size?

7-14

How much do they weigh?

5-17 oz (0.14-0.48 kg)

How long are they?

8-10 in (20.3-25.4 cm)

How tall are they?

Small size

What do they look like?

Gray-brown Fur, Bare Large Ears, Pointed Nose, Long Scaly Tail

Skin Type

Fur

What are their main threats?

Humans, Birds of Prey, Domestic Cats

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Temperate Broadleaf and Mixed Forests, Urban Areas

Locations

Worldwide

Kingdom

Animalia

Class

Mammalia

Scientific Name

Rattus Norvegicus

Family

Muridae

Genus

Rattus

Brown Rat Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a brown rat?

The brown rat is a type of common rat that is found across the world. They are one of the most populous rodents in the world. They are highly adapted and can stay around humans comfortably. These rats are native to Central Asia but since the 18th-century have spread across the world.

What class of animal does a brown rat belong to?

The brown rat is a type of mammal or rodent and belongs to the class Mammalia, which gives birth to offspring like other mammals. They are found across the world. The spread of this rodent must have happened in the middle ages. This spread caused the displacement of black rats.

How many brown rats are there in the world?

The exact figures of the brown rat population are difficult to find, as they are so widespread. They are known as one of the most prominent pests around the world. In Great Britain, there may be more than 6.5 million individual Norway rats. They are dangerous to the human population as they can carry many diseases.

Where does a brown rat live?

Originally from north China or Mongolia, the brown rat habitat has spread far and wide and adapted itself to co-exist with humans everywhere. By the eighteenth century, they were first introduced to eastern Europe and slowly spread across all European countries. They were first sighted as ship stowaways.

What is a brown rat's habitat?

Their original habitat was forests, woodlands, and shrublands. Now they are found almost everywhere where humans have settled. They are found in every city or rural dwelling. They can be found in sewers, dumps, woodlands, open fields, basements, and nearly anywhere they can excavate a system of burrows or climb up buildings or structures where food is available.

Who do brown rats live with?

Brown rats are highly social animals and will groom each other. They sleep together and have established an order of hierarchy where one rat will be the dominant one. They also form family groups of mothers and their young ones. The groups are made of males and females.

How long does a brown rat live?

The brown rat lifespan is around four years in captivity. In the wild, brown rats may live for a little over two years only, depending on their eating habits.

How do they reproduce?

Brown rats are polyandrous. They are social animals who breed in large groups. When the female is in her estrous period, which lasts for six hours, she can mate five hundred times with competing males. They do not have a mating season per se, but they are more active during the summer months. The female brown rat can give birth seven times a year. These social rodents can experience postpartum estrus and are ready to mate again. This function helps them to have very high birth rates. A single female brown rat can give birth to 60 young ones. Brown rats’ gestation period is 22-24 days, after which a litter of eight young ones is born on average. The young ones, when born, are underdeveloped, and it will take 14-17 days for them to open their eyes. Weaning occurs after three or four weeks and they are milk-fed till then. After weaning, they leave the brown rat nest. The female will be sexually active at four months and the males at three months. The young ones are taken care of by the females. The females will care for other females' offspring too in their community nesting.

What is their conservation status?

Their population is never under threat as they are highly adaptable creatures. Their population is stable and increasing, and therefore their status is of Least Concern according to the IUCN.

Brown Rat Fun Facts

What do brown rats look like?

Brown rat adaptations have helped it to survive in wildlife as well as urban areas.

The brown rat is a larger rat in the mouse family. The males are larger than the females. They have coarse brown or gray-colored fur with splotches of white or black hair sometimes. Brown rats’ fur is darker on the back and lighter colored on the underside. Their ears and tails are coverless. The length of the brown rats’ tail is shorter than the length of the body. They have shorter ears in comparison to other rats or mice.

How do they communicate?

The Norwegian brown rat species are known to communicate in a variety of manners. This rodent uses vocal, visual cues, and body language to communicate. They have an acute hearing sense and are sensitive to ultrasound along with a highly attuned olfactory sense. This rodent species can sense the slightest vibration from the ground and can feel its way through the darkness. The brown rat will make a high-frequency short ultrasonic, socially induced sound when they are played with, or tickled, or mating. This chirping is associated with positive emotions and feelings.

How big is a brown rat?

The brown rat size makes it the largest rat amongst the back rat and house mouse. The brown rat is a larger murid and weighs two times more than the black rat or many times more than the house mouse. brown rat length falls in the range of 8-10 in (20.3-25.4 cm).

How fast can a brown rat run?

Brown rats can run at a top speed of 8 mph (12.87 kph). They are extremely quick movers who are known to dig a network of tunnels for navigating their way around. These rodents are excellent jumpers and as per reports can jump up to 2.5 ft (77 cm).

How much does a brown rat weigh?

The brown rat weighs  5.0-17.6 oz (0.14-0.48 kg). Some members of the Norway rat species can attain the weight of 31.7-35.2 oz (0.89-0.99 kg).  The domesticated variety may not weigh more than 10.5 oz (0.29 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The male brown rat is called a buck and the female is called a doe. Their groups are called a pack, colony, swarm, plague, mischief, or horde.

What would you call a baby brown rat?

The brown rat babies are called pups or kits.

What do they eat?

Brown rats are known to be top-quality foragers. They use their sharp sense of smell and touch to forage for good. The brown rat diet includes anything from human waste food to eggs of the birds, small birds, mice, or lizards. The Norwegian rats are known to catch fishes with their paws when they live near the sea. Brown rats are such pests that they are known to eat practically anything.

Are they dangerous?

These brown pests are considered to be a threat to humans as they carry diseases like plague, Weil’s diseases, and many such illnesses. The Norway rat is considered the most prominent pest around the world.

Would they make a good pet?

Selective breeding of the brown rat has given us the fancy rat and the laboratory rat, which are domesticated subspecies of the brown rat. Having a brown rat as a pet is a good idea if you are up for the challenge but make sure to opt for the fancy rat as the laboratory rat is bred only for research purposes.

Did you know...

Brown rats are known to keen groomers who spend most of their time grooming and washing. Norway rat species are considered to be clean animals despite living in garbage and sewers.

Their whiskers help them perceive their environment.

These animals can be highly intelligent pet rats who can remember their complex tunnel systems and can learn many tricks too.

Brown rat vs Black rat

The brown rat is larger than a black rat. The black rat is half its weight and size. Brown rats are excellent swimmers, and the black rat will avoid water. The black ones are arboreal, whereas the brown rats will dig a network of tunnels.

What adaptations do brown rats have?

Brown rats are highly adapted creatures who have learned to co-exist with humans in urban or rural areas. These sewer rats can stay in forests, open fields, or rural homes and urban settings easily as long as these rats with large ears have ready source food and water near them.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including weasel facts, or stoat facts.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Brown rat coloring pages.

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