La miss It is the common name for rodents belonging to the genus Rattus within the order Rodentia. The rat is an animal native to Asia and spread throughout the world through human migrations.

It is currently one of the most widespread and adaptable animals in the world. There is a myth that each person is only 1,5 m from a rat.

Brown rat (Rattus rattus)
Brown rat (Rattus rattus)


The two most common species of rats are the black rat (Rattus Rattus) and the brown rat (Rattus norvegicus). Known as the true rats. Both species of rats are found all over the world.

Within the genus Rattus there are 56 medium species of slender-tailed rodents, native to mainland Asia and the adjacent islands of Southeast Asia eastward to the Autralia-New Guinea region.

The term rat is also used in other small mammals that do not belong to the genus Rattus, such as the lesser bandicoot rat (Bandicota bengalensis) but are related to true rats.

The term rat is assigned to large rodents, if it is small it is called mouse. These terms are not taxonomically specific, that is, they are not terms assigned by scientists, if they were, all rats would belong to the genus Rattus.


The rat is a small, thin mammal with a pointed head, large eyes and prominent ears and fine hair. The legs are long and end in sharp claws. On the hind legs it has fleshy pads that vary in size according to the species.

As in any group of large species, the size varies within the genus. Most species have a length between 17-21 cm, a weight between 95-240 g and the tail as long as its body. The Hoffman's rat (Rattus hoffmanni) it has that size. Among the smallest rats is the rata de Osgood (Rattus osgoodi) It measures between 12 - 17 in length and a shorter tail. At the other end is the Sulawesian white cola average (Rattus xanthurus), 19 - 27 cm in length and with a tail between 26 - 34 cm.

The brown rat has a larger body than the black one, and its tail is shorter than its body. The brown rat also has thicker hair and 12 pairs of mammae instead of 10 of the black rat.

The length of the tail varies between rats and although it appears smooth and bald, it is actually covered with very short and fine hairs. In some species the hairs on the tip of the tail become longer, looking slightly raised.

Most species have a short, soft and dense coat. Although in some species the fur is thick and long, woolly, or long and thick. Some rats have spiny fur.


The rat is a nocturnal animal, with the exception of the average parda (Rattus norvegicus) which is active both during the day and at night. All rats are terrestrial and some of them are arboreal (they climb trees), such as the Sulawesian white-tailed rat.

A large number of species of rats can swim. Generally, the thick, woolly haired species swim well. Others are expert swimmers and feed in aquatic environments.

They dig burrows under rocks, rotten tree trunks, or other types of shelters on the forest floor. They also take refuge in deep crevices or deep caves. Near humans, they hide in huts in towns, large buildings, or sewers.

Swimming rat near a river
Swimming rat near a river


The rat normally lives in small, dark places. It can live in wild and urban environments, as long as there is a large source of food nearby.

The brown rat (Rattus norvegicus) predominates in hot climates and the brown rat (Rattus Rattus) prefers temperate regions, especially urban areas.


The rat is distributed throughout the planet where humans live, with the exception of those areas where the climate is excessively cold.


The rat is an omnivorous and scavenger animal, which feeds on a mixture of vegetables and animals to obtain all the necessary nutrients for its survival.

For example, the brown rat, although it is omnivorous, prefers a carnivorous diet consuming a great variety of prey such as: shrimp, snails, mussels, insects, eggs of birds and young, amphibians, eels, fish, pheasants, pigeons, poultry, rabbits and carrion.

In the garbage dumps they find great sources of food, which doubles the number of rats and their size. These types of rats are called "super rats", and they are a problem for the smaller species of rats that tend to suffer serious problems.

Rat drinking coffee
Rat drinking coffee


The rat in the wild is preyed upon by many predators such as snakes, bobcats, and birds of prey. However, in some cultures they are hunted by humans as regular food.


The rat, like mice, reproduce rapidly and give birth to large litters. They can begin to have young around 5 weeks of age and give litters between 6 and 10 days, after a gestation of about 22 days. After 18 months of age, female rats cannot breed.

State of conservation

The rat, being so widespread throughout the world, and living under the yoke of humans, is not in danger and is perfectly preserved.

Relationship with humans

At times, it is a carrier and propagator of various diseases with devastating effects on humans. Although these diseases are usually not transmitted to humans. However, in the Middle Ages, the Black Death killed almost two-thirds of the European population. The disease was not a direct cause of rats, but of infected fleas that carried them.

Apart from causing disease, they also cause problems for other species. The brown and black rats feed on human-stored grains and kill poultry in the process. In some oceanic islands they have been responsible for the extinction of native species of small mammals, birds and reptiles.

The brown rat and the black rat are implicated in the spread of up to 40 diseases among humans, including bubonic plague, food poisoning, schistosomiasis, murine typhus, tularemia, and leptospirosis.

The brown rat is used in laboratories around the world by humans for medical, genetic and biological research to improve human health.

From the XNUMXth century on, rats were kept as pets around the world. The pet rat poses the same risks to humans as any domestic animal, so it is not considered carriers of diseases. When they are bred in captivity they become masses and can be very friendly, and even be trained to perform small tasks in order to get food.

Popular culture

The Romans did not distinguish between rats and mice. They simply used the terms mus maximus (large mouse) and mus minimus (small mouse).

It is the first animal of the twelve of the Chinese zodiac. They believe that people born in that year will possess qualities associated with rats such as: creativity, intelligence, honesty, generosity, ambition, quick temper and waste. People born in the year of the rat get along well with "monkeys" and "dragons" and get along with "horses."

In India, rats are thought to be Ganesha's vehicle and in every Ganesh temple there is a statue of a rat. In Deshnoke, the rats of the Karni Mata Temple are destined for reincarnation as Sadhus (Hindu holy men). Both the priests and the pilgrims and visitors offer milk and grain to the rats.

In Europe, it is frowned upon. They are seen as vicious, dirty and parasitic animals and they spread disease. In English "Rats!" it is used as a substitute for interjections. They are not associated with rat behavior, but are related to the Black Death. However, some people keep them as pets.

Some animal rights defenders argue that using rats in scientific experiments is cruel. The term "laboratory rat" is associated with people who spend most of their time locked up in the laboratory. There is also the "bookworm" variant

It has appeared in numerous books and movies. The most famous is the film "Ratatouille" by Pixar Animation Studios and released on March 16, 2007, which tells the story of a rat who wants to be a chef.

List of other interesting animals