101 Amazing Facts About Rats
Think you know a lot about rats? These incredibly complex and interesting creatures have lived side-by-side with humans for most of recorded history and have made a major impact on almost all global cultures. Our 101 rat facts shares some interesting tidbits about these commensal rodents that you may or may not know. Check out our list and let us know your thoughts!
Rats can have as many as 20 babies at a time.
The Norway Rat did not originate in Norway.
Rats destroy about 20% of agricultural products worldwide each year.
Rats have an incredibly strong sense of smell.
A kangaroo rat can go its average 10-year life span without any water.
Antarctica is the only continent uninhabited by rats.
- Rat catchers used to be a popular job in urban Europe. They usually had "ratters" with them. Ratters were animals trained to hunt rats, like the rat terrier dog. Rat control was necessary for controlling disease.
- Rats are mammals referred to as "rodents" because they belong to the scientific order of Rodentia.
- In many countries, rat meat is still a popular culinary option. You can dine on rat in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and parts of the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Ghana, China, and Vietnam.
- Rats have such good sense of smell, they have been used to detect landmines and diagnose diseases such as tuberculosis.
- Among the pathogens carried by rats are diseases such as bubonic plague, lassa fever, leptospirosis, and Hantavirus.
- When Pixar created the 2007 film Ratatouille, the animators kept rats in their offices to bring their likeness to life with greater accuracy.
- The bush rat is the most common indigenous species of rat in Australia.
- Karni Mata Temple in India is home to over 25,000 black rats who are worshipped there.
Ancient Romans did not have a word to distinguish rats from mice. Instead they referred to them as big mouse (mus maximus) and little mouse (mus minimus).
- There have been a number of fictional rats in popular culture. Some of the most famous include Stuart Little, Remy from Ratatouille, Master Splinter from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Chuck E. Cheese (who was changed to a mouse in 1997 for publicity reasons).
- The modern black rat most likely spread across Europe during the Roman conquests.
- Some female rats can go into heat as quickly as 10-24 hours after giving birth in a phenomenon known as postpartum estrus.
- Rats make sounds similar to laughter when they are happy.
- The fancy rat, also known as rattus norvegicus domestica, is the most common rat kept as a pet. It is a domesticated relative of the Norway rat.
Rats can lift almost 1 pound which is more than their average body weight.
Some of the first animals sent to space were rats launched in 1961 from France.
Rats have great memories and can memorize a route after learning to navigate it once.
Rats’ jaws are built like an alligator and can exert as much as 7000 pounds per square inch.
There are over 51 species of rats that have been discovered.
- Rats are a generalists species and can thrive in a multitude of environmental conditions and adapt their diet based on their resources.
- Victorian rat catcher Jack Black is loosely credited with the domestication of rats and introducing the fancy rat, which even Queen Victoria herself kept as pets.
- Ancient Romans believed a white rat crossing your path was good luck, and a black rat was a bad omen.
- Rats are ticklish like humans.
Rats' tails help them balance and communicate with each other, and also help regulate body temperature.
- Rats don't have tonsils or gallbladders, but they do have belly buttons.
- Rats don't sweat, but they regulate their temperature by constricting or expanding blood vessels in their tails.
- A rat can fall as far as 50 feet without being injured.
- The tooth enamel of rats is said to be stronger than steel.
A group of rats tails can become entangled and caught in substances such as tree sap or gum, making them unable to escape. This
terrifying phenomenon is known as a rat king.
- Rats have strong teeth that can chew through glass, cinder block, wire, aluminum and lead.
- Rats eat their own feces for the nutritional value.
- Rats have been known to restart their heart after electric shock.
- A group of rats is called a mischief.
Rats are color blind and have very poor eyesight.
Two compatable brown rats can produce 15,000 rats in only 1 year.
Evidence suggests that Egyptian birds preyed upon Mediterranean rats.
Small rats can fit through a hole 0.96 inches in diameter -- the size of a quarter.
The Canadian province of Alberta (population 4.25 million) is the largest inhabited area known to be completely free of rats.
The rat is the first of the 12 years of the Chinese Zodiac. 2020 is the return of the year of the rat!
Rattus are not the only genus where animals considered to be rats can be found. Other genera include Neotoma, Bandicota, and Dipodomys.
- The pack rat (packrat), also known as the wood rat, can be found in the deserts of the Western United States and Northern Mexico.
- Rats are capable of playing hide-and-seek.
- Rodents must continually gnaw to keep their teeth short and capable of letting them consume food.
- The earliest known record of a rat-catching dog was named "Hatch". His remains were recovered from the Mary Rose, the flagship of Henry VIII.
- Hatch is thought to have been brought on board to control the rat population.
- Rat torture was a cruel method of interrogation used by many South American dictatorships in the 20th century.
- Rats can jump 2 feet in the air from a standing position and add an additional foot with a running start. That's equivalent to a human jumping onto a garage roof.
- The U.S. reports 14,000 annual direct attacks of rats on people.
The royal rat catcher of Queen Victoria gave an albino rat to Beatrix Potter, the author of the much loved
Peter Rabbit series.
- The maturity of rats can be shown by their yellow teeth. Baby rats initially have white teeth.
- Rats are of the few species of rodent that maintain a sophisticated social structure complete with leaders, assistant leaders, outcasts and rebels.
- Mice will investigate new things with interest, but rats are what is known as neophobic, meaning they are afraid of trying new things. This makes it difficult to introduce a trusted food source to them as a lure or bait.
- The Gambian Pouched Rat from Africa is similar in appearance to a Norway Rat, but can grow up to 15 pounds!
Rats have great hearing and can communicate by producing and recognizing meaningful ultrasound frequencies that humans can't hear.
The Florida Panthers of the NHL have a tradition called "rat-trick" where fans throw thousands of plastic rats on the ice during the playoffs.
Their ideal diet consists of a good amount of fruits and vegetables.
Some rats are great swimmers and can hold their breath for up to 3 minutes.
Rats teeth never stop growing. Their front teeth grow 4.5 to 5.5 inches every year.
The old Jameson Whiskey distillery in Dublin included a milk budget for the cats used to keep rats out of the barley warehouse.
- The earliest known record of the Pied Piper comes from the town of Hamelin itself. A stained glass window in a church dates to around 1300, although the church was destroyed in the early 17th century.
- Rats can scale brick or cement walls with ease, due to the long claws on their feet.
- Rats are very clean animals -- even cleaner than cats!
- The Bosavi woolly rat discovered in 2009 is believed to be the largest rat, reaching 32" long (including tail) and weighing more than 3 lbs.
- Rats can be trained to do several tricks and they will also learn their name.
- A rat known as "Ratty" was a main character in the popular children's novel, Wind in the Willows, published in 1908.
- Black and brown rats evolved from common ancestors during the beginning of the Pleistocene epoch.
- Rats are masters of communication. Like humans they can communicate through body language, touch, smell, and sound.
The Staten Island Yankees held a naming contest in 2016. "Pizza Rats" was one of the final names in response to the viral sensation "Pizza Rat". Every year they suspend their Yankees moniker for a number of games and take the field as the Staten Island Pizza Rats.
- Rats learn what food that they like from smelling the breath of other rats.
- It is thought that maritime trade was responsible for the spread of rats all over the world. Rats likely were stowaways on ships.
- Rats take care of injured and sick members of their group.
- Without companionship, rats tend to get lonely and depressed.
- Rats give in to peer-pressure just like humans. The urge to conform is so strong they will choose to eat unpalatable food if they're with other rats eating it.
Like deer, male rats are called bucks and females does.
Rats ate an estimated 10% of Pablo Escobar's money every year, amounting to $2.1 billion.
Rats use their whiskers in the dark to determine an objects size, shape, orientation and texture. This is called "whisking."
Scientists have identified that rats have dreams.
Rat tastebuds are sensitive enough to detect a teaspoon of chocolate in 1302 gallons of milk.
Life span varies between species, but the average lifespan of a rat in the wild is one year due to predators.
- Rats have flourished as invasive species on isolated islands where they prey on the eggs and young of forest birds that never evolved defenses against them.
- During a 6 hour period of receptivity, a female rat can mate as many as 500 times.
- About 12 rats per year enter Alberta, Canada. All of which are quickly eliminated by their specialized Rat Control Task Force.
- Rats experience regret just like humans.
- Rats in Iran grew so large that snipers were deployed to combat the "cat-sized" rodents.
- In 1954, the rat problem in Bombay, India was so bad they began accepting dead rats in place of taxes. People quickly exploited the system with mass breeding and killing projects causing the program to be terminated.
- Blue dye in M&Ms has been found to reduce spinal injury in rats. Although the levels required had the unfortunate side effect of turning the rats blue.
- Rats will sometimes grind their teeth from stress or pain, but this bahavior typically is to express contentment and relaxation. The behavior is known as bruxing.
Rats recognize individual people they have seen before.
- Like hamsters stuffing their cheeks, rats hoard food to save for later. This contributes to non-target poisoning when they remove poison bait and transport it to their stash.
- Rats cannot go more than 4 days without food.
- Rats are born with their eyes closed and are helpless without parental care. Their eyes open between 12 and 17 days after birth and they are independent by 21 days.
- Rats have an excellent sense of taste and will frequently test new foods to see if it will make them sick or if they can digest it properly.
- Not all species of rats enjoy living in close proximity to humans, some seek out remote areas. The largest rat species, found deep in the Papua New Guinea jungle, wasn't discovered until 2009!
Rats spelled backwards is star. That's a fact!