Facts About Rats
They’re dirty, disease ridden vermin that live in sewers and are responsible for de-populating most of Europe in the Middle Ages.
Who doesn’t hate rats?
Their reputation is so bad, they could immediately close down the business of a Michelin starred chef and reduce even the toughest of hard men to a shrieking, hysterical wreck.
Want to know more about these unnerving creatures? Where do they come from? Why are they here? Are they dangerous?
Here are a few interesting facts about rats including a couple that may surprise you.
There are just two types of rat in the UK: the brown rat, also known as Norwegian or Common rat and the much rarer black rat, also known as the Ship rat.
Brown rats weigh approximately 500 grams and are about 23 cm long. However, their love for our fatty and sugary foods, means they too are growing in size.
Black rats are half the size and weigh as little as 250 grams.
Don’t be misled by their name. Brown rats don’t originate from Norway and are not native to the UK. It’s believed they originally came from North China and Mongolia, boarding trade ships in the Middle Ages and settling in Europe.
They Love Us
Wherever you find humans, you’ll find rats. We may hate them but they love our living conditions: Warm places to live, plenty of water supplies and an abundance of food. A rat will happily munch on leftover chow mein and eat the packaging too!
They’re Very Clean
Although they are associated with filth, rats are surprisingly clean creatures. They’ll spend hours cleaning and grooming themselves and each other.
They Didn’t Cause The Black Death
They’ve been blamed for centuries, but modern researchers now believe fleas were responsible for spreading the Bubonic Plague throughout Europe in the 14th and 17th Centuries.
Black rats that boarded ships in China, were infested with fleas that carried the Bubonic bacteria. Once the fleas had finished feasting on the rats, they jumped onto humans and domestic animals.
Rats are omnivores: they’ll eat anything. According to the Animal Behaviour Society, their favourite foods are scrambled eggs and macaroni cheese. Least favourites are raw beets and celery.
It’s not just food though. Rats also enjoy gnawing on electric cables, insulation and even gas pipes. Although they carry some nasty diseases, the bigger threat to humans is the fire hazards rats create in buildings.
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