Rat is the common name for about 10000 species of rodents in 70 genera and 8 families. Rat refers the members of the genus Rattus. Out of the many species two are of special interest; The black rat, also called the roof rat and the Norway rat called brown rat.
The black rat has been most feared throughout history because it is the primary host for bubonic plague, which is transmitted to humans by direct contract or through the bites of fleas that have fed on infected rats. It is believed that the black rat originally came from southern or southeastern Asia and reached North and South America in the 1500's. The black rat is currently distributed in the U.S. in a narrow belt along both coasts and throughout most of the southeastern states.
The brown rat probably originated in eastern Asia, or possibly northern China. The brown is now found throughout the U.S. The brown is larger, more aggressive and prefer a different habitat, from that of the black rat. Preferring to borrow the brown will mostly reside at lower levels of buildings driving the black rat to upper levels--such as attics. The brown rat can become a predator and often associate in packs of 60 or more animals. These packs usually are all closely related and descend from a single pair. They can survive in many diverse environments. For example, if a nursing female is killed, another nursing female of the pack will raise her young to insure survival of the species.
With all the negative thoughts regarding humans verses brown rat,. the Norway rat, usually in the form of the white laboratory rat, has made significant contributions to medical research. The benefit to humans in the areas of nutrition, genetics, and disease. Domestic rats also make excellent pets.
Rodent control for rats and mice has always been an important issue. The issues range from diseases ( including the most recent hantavirus) ,property and food supply damage. The following information varies from the house mouse, the brown ,and black rat. It is a general approx. not specific:
Senses = excellent
Sight = poor
Food = omnivorous , fruits, grains, cereals, free water intake
Feeding habits = any, new object rejection
Climbing= agile to good
Nests= burrows, walls, attics, vines, trees, stored materials
Swimming = excellent to can
Home range = maximum 100 feet....minimum 20 feet
Life span = 9-12 months
Maturity = 2-3 months
Litters = 6-12
Litters per year = 6-8