R. norvegicus. Norway rats, are closely related to black rats, but are more successful in colder climates. However, some data show that has been able to adapt to more extreme cold and harsh climate conditions. (Grzimek, 2003; Grzimek, 2003; Pye, Swain, and Seppelt, 1999), is found on all continents of the earth. Although the species is believed to be native to India and possibly other Indo-Malayan countries, it has been introduced through human travel overseas to all continents. It is most common in coastal areas because it is a rodent that flourishes in areas inhabited by humans as well as on large ships. For this reason, these animals are often called ship rats. Some other common names for this species include house rat, black rat, and roof rat. thrives in tropical regions but has been largely driven out of more temperate regions by Noway rats,
is a medium sized rat with relatively large ears and a tail that is nearly always longer than the body. Individuals weigh between 70 and 300 g, and are between 16 and 22 cm in head and body length and a tail length of 19 cm or longer. Males are longer and heavier than are females.
Many members of the species are black in color with a lighter colored ventral belly. The species is often divided into subspecies based upon color patterns which can occur in any combination of black, white, grey, and agouti.
The skull and nasal bones are relatively narrow. One of the main ways to differentiate between R. norvegicus is that has a finer covering of hair, a lighter skull, and a slightly differently shaped upper first molar. (Allen, 1938; Corbet and Southern, 1977; Grzimek, 2003)and
Social groups of (Corbet and Southern, 1977)are often formed of multiple males and multiple females. One male is dominant and a linear male hierarchy may form. Two to three females are often dominant to all other group members except the dominant male. Females are generally more aggressive than males. The species is polygynous, and generally, the dominant male is the most successful breeder. Territories and mates are defended through aggressive behavior. If environmental conditions allow it, successful breeding may occur all year.
Because male members of (Grzimek, 2003)copulate with one female and then move on to the next, they don't contribute much to the care of the young. The young remain relatively helpless for about 2 weeks, until they begin to grow a pelage, their eyes open, and they are able to move around more. Weaning is accompanied by increased independence from the mother. Until these rats reach their full adult size, they stay in the nest built by their mother. Young rats are capable of reproducing by about 3 to 5 months of age.
tends to live in polygynous groups with multiple males and females. Dominant males have increased mating access and mate more frequently than do subordinate males. Females are usually more aggressive than males, but have been reported to be less mobile.
Black rats exhibit many destructive behaviors. These animals strip bark off of trees, contaminate human food sources, and are overall pests.
The home range of (Nowak, 1999)is never more than about 100 square meters. It often has smaller territories. Territories surround food sources and are defended.
Impact of these animals on their ecosystems has not been studied. However, we may infer from their feeding habits that they have some impact on plant communities. As a prey species, they may impact populations of those animals which feed upon them. Also, they compete with other species of rodents, such as Rattus norvegicus. is a disease vector, responsible for bubonic plague outbreaks and other diseases. This cosmopolitan species hosts a wide variety of internal and external parasites, up to 18 species of gastrointestinal helminths in some areas. (Desquesnes, et al., 2002; Mafiana, et al., 1997)
Yersinia pestis) that took millions of lives in the middle ages. The fleas that live on these rats carry a number of diseases that can seriously harm humans, livestock, and other animals. (Allen, 1938; Corbet and Southern, 1977; Grzimek, 2003; Nowak, 1999; Pye, Swain, and Seppelt, 1999)is a pest and is dangerous to humans in several ways. First, these animals are severely destructive to crops, farms, and fruit trees. Not only do they feed on these but they tend to destroy what they are unable to consume. By urinating and defecating on remains of their meals, they ruin grain, cereals, and other food sources. This species is famous for its role in spreading the bubonic plague (
has no special conservation status. They are widespread and abundant, especially in areas where humans live.
Nancy Shefferly (editor), Animal Diversity Web.
Heather Gillespie (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor, instructor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
lives on Antarctica, the southernmost continent which sits astride the southern pole.
Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.
living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.
living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.
living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.
living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.
uses sound to communicate
living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.
young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.
Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
an animal which directly causes disease in humans. For example, diseases caused by infection of filarial nematodes (elephantiasis and river blindness).
either directly causes, or indirectly transmits, a disease to a domestic animal
Found in coastal areas between 30 and 40 degrees latitude, in areas with a Mediterranean climate. Vegetation is dominated by stands of dense, spiny shrubs with tough (hard or waxy) evergreen leaves. May be maintained by periodic fire. In South America it includes the scrub ecotone between forest and paramo.
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
having a worldwide distribution. Found on all continents (except maybe Antarctica) and in all biogeographic provinces; or in all the major oceans (Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific.
having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.
ranking system or pecking order among members of a long-term social group, where dominance status affects access to resources or mates
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
parental care is carried out by females
union of egg and spermatozoan
forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.
an animal that mainly eats seeds
An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.
referring to animal species that have been transported to and established populations in regions outside of their natural range, usually through human action.
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
active during the night
islands that are not part of continental shelf areas, they are not, and have never been, connected to a continental land mass, most typically these are volcanic islands.
found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.
chemicals released into air or water that are detected by and responded to by other animals of the same species
having more than one female as a mate at one time
rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.
communicates by producing scents from special gland(s) and placing them on a surface whether others can smell or taste them
scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.
remains in the same area
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
associates with others of its species; forms social groups.
living in residential areas on the outskirts of large cities or towns.
uses touch to communicate
that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).
Living on the ground.
defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement
the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.
A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.
A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.
A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.
living in cities and large towns, landscapes dominated by human structures and activity.
uses sight to communicate
reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.
breeding takes place throughout the year
Allen, G. 1938. The Mammals of China and Mongolia. Natural history of Central Asia. New York: American Museum of Natural History.
Corbet, G., H. Southern. 1977. The Handbook of British Mammals. Oxford: Octavo.
Desquesnes, M., S. Ravel, G. Cuny. 2002. PCR identification of Trypanosoma lewisi, a common parasite of laboratory rats. Kinetoplastid Biology and Disease, 1: 2. Accessed September 03, 2006 at http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=119323.
Grzimek, B. 2003. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia: Mammals. Pp. 126-128 in N Schlager, D Olendorf, M McDade, eds. Order: Rodentia, Vol. 16, 2nd Edition. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group.
Mafiana, C., M. Osho, S. Sam-Wobo. 1997. Gastrointestinal helminth parasites of the black rat (Rattus rattus) in Abeokuta, southwest Nigeria.. Journal of Helminthology, 71: 217-220.
Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World (6th Edition). Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Pye, Swain, and Seppelt, 1999. Distribution and habitat use of the feral black rat (Rattus rattus) on subantarctic Macquarie Island. Journal of Zoology, 247: 429-438.
Veitch, D. 2006. "Rattus rattus" (On-line). Global Invasive Species Database. Accessed February 21, 2008 at http://www.issg.org/database/species/ecology.asp?si=19.