rat facts

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"Rat teeth never stop growing"

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Rats live all over the world. They are nocturnal animals and live in packs. These medium-sized rodents are omnivorous and feed on insects, seeds, fruit, eggs, and small animals.

A female can give birth to 8 to 12 babies. The lifespan of a mouse is 2 to 3 years.

5 Unbelievable Rat Facts!

Are mice good pets?
Rats chirp when they are happy.

©Ukki Studio/

  • Rats chirp when they are happy
  • Mice's long tails help regulate body temperature
  • Rats are able to jump about 3 feet in the air
  • Rats are considered to be one of the smartest animals in the world!
  • In 2009, a giant rat was found in Papua New Guinea. The rat — named Bosavi the furratus — lived in a crater that had been lightly explored before, and its tail was more than 30 inches long. This makes it one of the largest mice in the world.

You can check out more incredible facts about mice here.

Evolution and Origin

Mice belong to the rodent family, one of the most diverse and widespread mammalian groups in the world. The first rodents evolved during the late Paleocene or early Eocene, about 55 to 60 million years ago. The earliest known rodent fossils were found in North America, but they quickly spread to other parts of the world.

Rat Health and Recreation

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The ancestors of modern mice may have been small burrowing animals that lived in grasslands and forests. Over time, they evolved to adapt to environments ranging from deserts to wetlands.

Rats are thought to have first evolved in Asia before spreading to other parts of the world. Black rats, also known as ship rats, are thought to have originated in tropical Asia and spread to Europe and Africa via trade routes. The brown rat, also known as the Norway rat, is believed to have originated in northern China and spread to Europe and North America.

scientific name

Gray and white flying squirrel with a stuffed mouse doll in a dress
The scientific name of the black rat is Rattus rattus.

© Irina

The scientific name of the black rat is Rattus rattus. Rattus is the medieval Latin name for a rat. Black rats are also known as house mice.

This animal belongs to the family Muridae and mammalian classification.

Other species include:

  • Rice Vole
  • Hoffman's Sulawesi Rat
  • Australian swamp rat
  • brown mouse
  • Osgood's Vietnamese Mouse
  • Northeaster Xanthurus Rat
  • black rat
  • bush rat
  • bush rat
  • bulldog rat
  • polynesian rat
  • kangaroo
  • giant kangaroo rat
  • brown mouse
  • desert kangaroo
  • allegheny wood rat
  • Wallaby
  • opossum
  • long haired mouse
  • East woodrat
  • Alder's kangaroo
  • black-footed wood rat
  • Merriam's Kangaroo
  • San Quentin Kangaroo Rat
  • McClell's rat
  • texas kangaroo rat
  • california kangaroo
  • desert wood rat
  • slender mouse
  • Himalayan Vole
  • Glacier rat
  • Rats
  • White-throated wood rat
  • Stephens' Kangaroo Rat
  • Malayan Vole
  • bullshit mouse
  • kerala rat
  • Philippine forest rat
  • Flag-tailed Kangaroo
  • fresno kangaroo rat
  • Panamint Kangaroo Rat
  • mexican woodrat
  • wood rat
  • chisel-toothed kangaroo rat
  • dark mouse
  • mindoro black rat
  • Japanese rat
  • Pale Vole
  • Nilu rat
  • Summit Rat
  • little rice vole
  • southern plains wood rat

appearance and behavior

These animals can have black, brown, gray or white fur. They have two big ears, black eyes and long beards. They have a mouthful of sharp teeth, including 4 incisors. Their teeth continue to grow throughout their lives. Therefore, they have to chew food and other items to wear down the edges.

One of their most distinctive features is their long, hairless tail. Usually, an animal's tail is as long as the body or longer. The length of the tail is approximately 7 inches.

This animal uses its tail for more than one purpose. For one thing, it helps regulate temperature. Its tail is hairless so it is able to release heat to keep the mouse's body cool. Or, when an animal is cold, it can curl its tail around itself to keep warm.

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Second, the mouse's tail helps it maintain its balance. They climb walls and trees and walk along narrow ledges. Their tails help them keep their weight balanced so they don't fall over. Incredibly, mice also possess excellent swimming abilities.

These rodents weigh 3 to 10 ounces and are 6 to 8 inches long. A mouse weighing 10 ounces weighs a little more than a can of soup in a kitchen cupboard. Also, an 8-inch rat is only half the height of a bowling pin.

The largest rat in the world is the Northern Luzon giant cloud rat. Its scientific name is Phloeomys pallidum. The rodent grows to 2.5 feet long and weighs close to 6 pounds. Now that's a big mouse!

These animals can fit into very small places. Some scientists believe that if the animal could stuff its head into the hole, it could push the rest of its body out of the hole. This is one of its defenses against predators. They also have very sharp teeth, which are used to ward off attacks.

Additionally, their black, brown or gray fur helps them blend into dark underground environments.

These rodents are social creatures with each other. In fact, if an animal is left alone for any length of time, it becomes listless and depressed. Feral mice are shy and try to avoid being seen by humans or other animals. Pet mice can be very friendly and playful critters if kept around humans.

A group of rats is called a mischief and can contain a dozen or more members.

Rats vs. Mice: What's the Difference?

squirrel in clover
Both rats and mice belong to the category of mammals. But there are some differences between the two rodents.

© Marina_Saw_it/

Both rats and mice belong to the category of mammals. But there are some differences between the two rodents.

One of the main differences between them is size. Rats are smaller than rats. A mouse weighs about an ounce to an ounce and a half.

Another difference is that rats have hair on their tails while mice have hairless tails.

House mice live less than a year, while rats can live up to 3 years.


These rodents live all over the world. They live in India, Asia, North and South America, Europe and Australia. Humans have even introduced some mice to the continent of Antarctica. These animals live in warm to temperate climates. Think so. There are bound to be some rats near where humans live.

These animals are adapted to a variety of habitats. Some live in trees, while others live in dens, attics, and basements of houses. They live near drainpipes, city sewers and rivers. Many of them spend most of their time underground, emerging from their hiding places in search of food.

A mouse uses its whiskers to safely navigate dark tunnels and tight spaces. Their whiskers are very important because these rodents are active at night.

These rodents need to live in warm areas. So when the cold weather arrived, they left the fields and woodlands and moved into houses, buildings, sheds and other structures.


Rats eat insects, fruit, grains and vegetables.


What do these rodents eat? They are omnivores, so they eat both plants and animals. They eat fruits, nuts, seeds, insects, small animals and eggs. The specific diet of these animals depends largely on the food available in their habitat.

Rodents that live in woods probably eat mostly seeds, nuts, and fruit. Or, a rat living in a city's sewers might eat meat, bread, and other items it finds in trash cans or on the street. Rodents that live on the banks of rivers may eat bird eggs, baby turtles, fish, and other small animals.

Rodents that feed on trash cans risk ingesting items that make them sick. Expired or rotten food are two examples of things that can make rats sick. However, they have an excellent sense of smell and are therefore good at avoiding spoiled food. But don't let them forget too many potato chips!

Predators and Threats

Two brown mice poke their heads out of hiding place
Hawks, owls, and falcons are all natural predators of these animals. Domestic dogs and cats can also pose a threat to these rodents.

© Gallinago_media/

Hawks, owls, and falcons are all natural predators of these animals. Domestic dogs and cats can also pose a threat to these rodents.

The conservation status of black rats was of least concern.

Black rats that nest in attics or basements are at risk of being killed by exterminators. However, despite being considered pests, overall populations of these animals have remained stable.

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Note that the Northeaster Xanthurus species has a conservation status of Near Threatened and a declining population. These rodents live in Indonesia and are threatened by habitat loss due to logging activities and agriculture.

These animals are known for spreading diseases to humans and other animals. They do spread disease if they bite people or other animals. Additionally, the disease spreads when humans come into contact with dead rats or touch their feces. In addition, fleas and ticks on these animals can pick up diseases from them and transmit them to animals and humans.

Some of the diseases these animals carry include:

  • Salmonellosis: acquired through ingestion of rodent feces
  • Tularemia: infection by fleas or ticks from contaminated animals
  • Plague: contracted through the bite of fleas from infected animals

Note that the plague and this rodent are historically linked. The plague spread throughout the Middle Ages, killing millions across Europe. Fortunately, things have changed since then. The disease can be treated with modern antibiotics.

Reproduction, Babies and Longevity

little mouse siblings
The breeding season for black rats is summer and autumn.

© Glazkova

Generally speaking, the breeding season of black rats is in summer and autumn. But these animals are known to reproduce at any time of the year. Each pack, or mischief, has a dominant male who mates with several females. These rodents have multiple partners. During the breeding season, the dominant male will fiercely defend his group.

The female builds her nest from whatever material she can find. Leaves, shredded paper, insulation, cardboard, and grass are just some of the materials. She can nest almost anywhere. One animal might nest in a burrow in the woods, while another chooses a corner of the attic.

A single female can give birth to up to 5 litters per year. Her gestation period ranged from 21 to 29 days. She can have 8 to 12 babies in a litter.

These babies or pups are born without any hair and their eyes are closed. They have small pink bodies and weigh less than an ounce. These animals are classified as mammals, so the females nurse their young. The male does not provide any care for the young.

Puppies open their eyes when they are 15 days old. They start eating solid food and growing their fur at 3 weeks of age. Puppies can be independent by 4 weeks old.

Like most rodents, these animals are susceptible to respiratory infections and diseases. One of the respiratory diseases is caused by bacteria called mycoplasma.

In addition, rodents that do not chew enough food and other materials may develop overgrown teeth. Teeth that grow too long can interfere with the mice's ability to get enough nutrition.

They may also develop tumors in their bodies.

These rodents become sexually mature at 3 to 5 months of age. Their service life is 2 to 3 years.


According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, black rats are widespread and abundant. Its numbers remained steady.

Black rats are found throughout the southeastern United States, extending as far as Mexico. The animal is also found in Massachusetts and British Columbia.

rat in the zoo

  • House mouse on display at Seneca Zoo
  • Visit the Rat Exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Zoo

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about the author

My name is Rebecca and I have been a professional freelancer for nearly ten years. I write SEO content and graphic design. When I'm not working, I'm obsessed with cats and pet mice.

Rat FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Are mice carnivores, herbivores, or omnivores?

Rats are omnivores. They eat the most abundant food in their habitat. For example, mice living in wooded areas may eat more plants than animals. Leaves, fruit, nuts, and insects may be food for mice living in the woods.

Alternatively, a rat living in an urban environment might eat food scraps and other items it finds in the trash, rather than plants and vegetation.

Are mice mammals?

Yes, mice are mammals. Rats give birth to live pups, and the pups are fed by the mouse mother.

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What is the scientific name of the mouse?

The scientific or Latin name of the black rat is Rattus rattus. The Latin name for the brown rat is Rattus norvegicus.

What is the difference between a mouse and a rat?

Remember, rats are bigger than rats. In fact, house mice may see black mice as giants! Also, rats have no hair on their tails whereas rats have hairs on their tails. Rats generally live longer than rats.

How many rats are there in New York City?

There are believed to be approximately 2 million rats in New York City. While that number sounds large, estimates for other cities are even higher. For example, some estimates put the rat population in London at 20 million.

What's the use of a mouse?

Rats certainly play a role in our ecosystem. On the one hand, mice help reduce insect populations by eating crickets, beetles, etc. Additionally, mice are food for larger animals such as owls, hawks, and falcons.

Like most animals, mice play an important role in ecosystems. Without them, our ecosystem would be out of balance.

Are rats dangerous?

Won't. Feral mice are shy and like to hide out of sight. However, like other animals, they can cause harm if they feel threatened. They can bite a person's hand or finger and cause injury. Of course, rats can also carry diseases.

For the most part, rats live alone, out of sight of humans.

To which kingdom do mice belong?

Rats belong to the animal kingdom.

Which category do mice belong to?

Rats belong to the class of mammals.

What door do mice belong to?

Rats belong to the phylum Chordate.

What family do mice belong to?

Rats belong to the family Muridae.

What order do mice belong to?

Rats belong to the order Rodentia.

What type of mulch do mice have?

Rats are covered with fur.

What genus do mice belong to?

Rats belong to the genus Musculus.

What type of habitat do mice live in?

Rats live underground near human settlements.

What is the main prey of mice?

Rats eat eggs, nuts, potatoes and corn.

Who are the natural enemies of mice?

Rat predators include owls, snakes, raccoons and cats.

How many children does the mouse have?

The average number of babies for a mouse is 8.

What are some interesting facts about mice?

Rats are omnivores that eat anything!

What is the lifespan of a mouse?

Rats can live from 2 to 5 years.

How fast are mice?

Rats can travel at speeds of up to 8 miles per hour.

What's the difference between squirrel poop and mouse poop?

The main differences between squirrel poop and rat poop include size, shape, and color. Rat poop is longer and thicker than squirrel poop. However, the two are relatively close in size, so they may appear similar to a layman.

What's the Difference Between a Bay Mouse and a Small Squirrel?

The biggest differences between newborn squirrels and rats are their size, head shape and toenail color. A newborn squirrel may be larger than a mouse, and it will initially weigh more than a mouse.

What is the difference between a muskrat and a mouse?

The biggest differences between muskrats and rats are their size, habitat and tail. Muskrats have larger bodies and tails than most common mice. While mice prefer to live in underground burrows near human settlements, muskrats are semi-aquatic rodents that prefer to live in burrows near lakes, ponds, and wetlands.

What is the difference between a mouse and a hamster?

There are many differences between mice and hamsters. Mice have much longer tails than hamsters, and hamsters are less social than mice, both in captivity and in the wild.

What is the difference between a mouse and a possum?

The main difference between mice and possums is that mice are smaller in size, live all over the world and are considered rodent pests in most places. Opossums are larger, live only in the Americas, and are not usually considered pests.

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