Rats are a member of the rodent family. The rodent family is a large group of mammals made up of around 2000 different species worldwide. The one thing that all rodents have in common is their gnawing ability. The Latin word ‘rodere’ is where rodents get their name from, this means ‘to gnaw’. All rodents have four large incisor teeth which continuously grow throughout their lifetime, this is why they need to gnaw constantly in order to keep them in check.
There are 80 different species of rat worldwide all suited to a variety of different environments. To name a few there are, the North American kangaroo rat, fish-eating rat from South America and the spiny tree rat from Africa. Of all the different rat species there are two in particular that stand out as they are more closely recognised in human history. The brown rat and the black rat.
Both the brown and the black rat are thought to originate from Asia and it is down to their highly adaptive nature that they have been able to thrive alongside humans and by infesting ships managed to travel worldwide!
The black rat is smaller than the brown reaching between 16-22cm in length and around 17-24cm tail, they are greyish black in colour and tend to live above ground. They often nest in buildings and are very good climbers. Black rats for the most part are plant eaters but like any rat they will eat almost anything they come across.
The Plague Rat
The black rat are the species that has given rats such a bad name as they were the hosts for the bubonic plague more commonly known as the Black Death which led to the loss of over 200 million human lives. The first outbreak was in Europe in the 6th century but it was during the medieval times that the plague became a pandemic. It started in China in 1328 and then rapidly spread worldwide, it was thought that by 1350 a third of the world’s population had died. With this said it was not the rats that actually cause the plague, it was the fleas in which they carried, these fleas could also be found on other animals and poor hygiene also played a part. But the black rat took the fall, and this is one of the reasons why rats are still feared by humans today.
The brown rat is larger than the black rat with a body length of around 22-26cm and a tail length of 18-22cm. They are greyish brown in colour and tend to live underground in burrows and tunnels. Brown rats are fantastic swimmers and for short periods can even swim under water. It is due to this particular skill that brown rats like to make their nests in sewers. Brown rats like to eat carrion meat and grains however they will eat all types of food including our waste, which is what makes them so successful at living alongside us humans.
Rats don’t have a bad reputation in every country, in some, rats are considered a symbol of good luck. In China the Chinese astrological cycle starts with the rat and people born under this sign are thought to be cleaver at business, quick witted and loyal to their families.
In India rats represent the hindu goddess Karniji. There is a whole temple dedicated to rats in the village in Deshonk, it is estimated that around 10,000 brown rats live and share food with worshipers. The people of Deshonk believe that when they die, they will be reincarnated as rats.
Here in the UK we are not as fond of rats as the people of Deshonk or the Chinese. Rats are one of the most hated pests and with good reason too. Not only are they able to easily spread disease but they can also cause significant damage to our homes and businesses. Over the years the rat’s super adaptive nature has allowed them to evolve and thrive living alongside us. A new bread of rat has evolved known as the super rat, this name has been given to them as they have built up a resistance to over the counter rodenticides and poisons. This means that when you put out poison in the hope of controlling and infestation you are actually just giving the rats a tasty treat!
Fortunately, there is still hope, these rats can still be effectively controlled by pest controllers that have the skills, knowledge, tools and access to stronger poisons and rodenticides to make short work of any rat infestation at your home or business.
If your having problems with rats then contact STP Pest Control today – 0121 459 3997