Animals / Rodents

The Brown Rat

Синонимы и названия на других языках

The common rat, street rat, Hanover rat, Norway brown rat, wharf rat


Order: rodentia

Family: muridae

Subfamily: murinae

Genus: rattus

Species: rattus norvegicus 


Rats can be found all over the world except for the Antarctic. It is the dominant species in Europe and North America. They originated in south-east Asia, where they are particularly common.  A few hundred years ago development of navigation contributed to rats’ expansion throughout the world. Rats travelled with people by ships and got to India, Middle East and Africa and Europe, where they first appeared in the 16th century.

In Russia rats can be found everywhere, incl. Altai, Baikal region and Prymorye. But due to the harsh climate they didn’t move further north. In dry areas rats prefer to settle near people. In the absence of people they prefer damp environment. It is often said that in cities the number of rats approximately coincides with the number of inhabitants.

Внешний вид

An adult rat reaches 20-25 cm in length with the tail a further 18-20 cm. They weigh around 250-350 g.  They have rough gray or brown coat. They have small ears and small eyes. 


This is nocturnal species. They normally live in groups under the domination of the oldest male. Brown rats are quick runners, good swimmers and climbers.

Brown rats can emit short high frequency sounds that remind of chirping. Young rats often produce ultrasonic cries. Another common sound that can be heard by people is teeth grinding which usually indicates happiness.

Brown rats are very curious. Under proper care and socialization they develop easy-going and gentle personality and get used to their owner.


Содержание и уход

Fancy rats can become great pets and affectionate friends. Under proper husbandry they don’t smell like other rodents. Rats are active animals, so they need spacious multi-level cages with different accessories for climbing (hammocks, ladders, tunnels, ropes etc.)

As a bare minimum the cage should contain a water bottle, a food bowl and a litter box. For bedding you can use wood cuttings or any litter for rodents. It would be great to have a special area for bathing in the cage, rats love water.  You will have to clean the cage every day and disinfect it regularly. Once a rat is used to people, you should let it outside its cage under careful observation (rats can gnaw on furniture or other objects in your house). At times you can take your pet rat outdoors: fresh air is good for it. 


Rats are omnivore; they eat basically anything they see. In general they prefer plant feed with occasional insects or larvae, sometimes offal. Brown rats are particularly fond of animal protein; they hunt smaller rodents, destroy birds’ nests and sometimes they are even prone to cannibalism. Rats cannot stand starvation; they die after 3-4 days without food.

Usually it is very easy to feed a rat.  It is best to feed fancy rats with specialized commercial feed that contains all necessary nutrients and minerals. You can add to it small pieces of fruit, vegetables and greens. Rats love gnawing on things, so you can give them chicken bones. Their menu can also contain raw and cooked vegetables, some grain, apples, cheese, boiled eggs and white bread.

Rats have to drink about 50-60 ml of water daily.


Rats tend to gnaw and chew on everything they see.

Each specimen has its personality; they can be aggressive. 


Fancy rats are prone to get viral, bacterial and fungal diseases that can occur due to contaminated food or water or through the contact with infected animals. Also diseases can be transmitted with the parasites’ bites.

Average life span is 2-3 years.


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