Cool Facts About Rats

Image of a rat

Having black rats in your home can be a scary thing. Rats are fascinating creatures that are generally maligned because they contaminate food and spread disease. However, they have some remarkable characteristics as well. Did you know that they are excellent climbers, can laugh, have a large species, and their strong teeth never stop growing? 

Let us learn more about rats and what makes them unique. Many people cringe and shudder at the thought of rats anywhere near them. In most cases, rats inhibit office buildings and homes because there are dark places to hide and forage for food scraps.

Rats Can Swim

Can you believe it? Rats are great swimmers and could give Michael Phelps some competition. Sure, rats can hold their breath for up to three minutes and can tread water for up to three days. 

Some species can even swim over a mile without getting tired. There are stories of rats ending up in toilets. They can make their way up through the pipes easily.

Image of a rat teeth

A Rat’s Teeth Never Stops Growing

Rats gnaw on anything they can get their paws on. They do this because their incisors never stop growing. If they didn’t regularly grind them down, a rats teeth would grow so long that they may become handicapped. Its front teeth can grow up to five inches in a year, and it needs to wear them down somehow. Chewing on things helps rats with problems with their teeth. They love to chew on wood and can bite through aluminum sheeting, scale brick, cinder blocks, brick or cement walls, and even lead.

There Are Many Types of Rats

The Norway rat, roof rat(black rats), white rat, and Rattus Norvegicus are the most commonly known species. However, most people don’t know that over 56 known species of rats exist worldwide.

Image of a bamboo rat

Some Rats Get Big

There are some giant rats out there. The rats rummaging through garbage cans are the most commonly seen. However, people are unaware of their massive rodent relatives. One called the Sumatran bamboo rat can measure 20 inches and weigh up to 8.8 pounds! That is comparable to a small housecat. The Gambian pouched rats are not as heavy as three pounds but can measure up to three feet long. The total length is determined by measuring from head to tail.

Rats Are Prolific Breeders

Rodents are prolific breeders. That is why they are so commonly found around the world. A female rat can have babies 13 times per year. A typical litter of six to 10 pups is expected when she gives birth. Sexual maturity occurs when these pups are only three to four months old. That means that young rats can start spawning their own broods by the time a human baby is able to hold up its head unsupported!

They Are Social Creatures

Communities are essential for rats. Most of them live in large groups where they play, sleep together, and even groom each other. On the other hand, they can be highly territorial, so an unfamiliar rat might be treated aggressively if they feel threatened. Did you know that a “group” of rats is called a “mischief”?

Rat Can Carry Pathogens That Spread Disease

One of the most well-known facts about rats is an important one. They do indeed carry pathogens that affect humans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that rodents can spread over 37 diseases. In 2003 rats were responsible for a monkeypox outbreak. Rodents also played a considerable part in infecting humans during the middle ages of the bubonic plague (black death).

Rats Can Laugh

When rats play, they experience social joy. It is something that researcher Jakk Panksepp studied. 

This behavior results in a high-pitched chirping noise. Their laugh is unlike a chuckle you might hear from a human being.

Image of a rat in a hole

Rats Can Squeeze Through Small Holes

Most rats can fit through a hole the size of a coin. That is thanks to its skeleton, which is collapsible. The ribs can fold down like an umbrella because it is hinged to the spine. Any big hole enough for the rat’s head to fit through should allow the rest of the body to pass.

A Rats Bite is Painful

Rats can bite hard. Very hard. Their jaws are built similarly to an alligator and can exert a massive downward force. Up to 7000 pounds of pressure per square inch can be delivered through their jawbone. That means it can easily tear through human skin and bone. There have been cases of people losing their fingers due to rats biting them. It uses the grinding features of its jaw to tear through bone membranes.

Rats Can Control Their Bladder

This statement holds valid even until today. Most people might assume that rats have no control over where they urinate. Rats can be extremely fussy about where they defecate and pee. A fancy rat typically makes use of particular corners and can be easily toilet trained. 

Most people use a ferret size litter tray filled with paper cat litter. There are, however, other options on the market that are more rat-friendly.

When rats pee, it is the way they mark their territory. If you get urinated on by your pet rats, consider yourself owned by them. 

Image of a grooming rat

Rats are Exceptionally Clean

As animals most often associated with rubbish bins and sewers, people tend to think of rats as dirty animals. They spend several hours each day cleaning themselves and others. Grooming takes place individually or as groups. This provides a sort of social bonding experience among the commensal rodents.

Sometimes going into an extreme cleaning mode is considered an act of dominance. It is generally done among family members to establish a pecking order.

Even though rodents are color blind and have poor eyesight, a rat’s sense of touch, smell, and taste are incredible. Their excellent senses have been used to detect landmines since the first World War. Pet rats usually employ water to help with their cleaning regime. By adding a water dish to your rat’s cage, you can observe their washing habits.

Pet Rats Are Just Like Wild Rats

Most people might not like the fact that pet rats are nothing more than domesticated brown rats. They have developed various fur types, color patterns, and a calmer disposition over the years. 

However, they are still the same species and can breed with wild cousins. 

Initially, rats were domesticated to the blood sport rat baiting. Punters could bet on how many rats a terrier could kill within a particular time limit they gained. Only in the 20th century did they gain popularity as pets.

image of a bosavi woolly rat

The Bosavi Woolly Rat

In 2009 the Bosavi woolly rat was discovered in the Papua New Guinea jungle. It can reach a length of 32 inches and is the most enormous rat found today.

The size of this animal is similar to the Gambian pouched rat and other rats in that category.

It was discovered by the team filming a BBC wildlife documentary. The find happened in an extinct volcano crater known as Mount Bosavi. This cater is 3,300 feet above sea level, an area that no one through the rat could exist. These rats also show no fear of humans, but that could be due to their large size.

Female Rat Facts

Within six hours, a doe (female rat) can mate around 500 times. Females are fertile every three weeks and can produce a typical litter size of seven to 20 babies.

While all rats are social creatures, females tend to be more territorial and smaller in size. At the same time, the male rat counterpart is often more playful and snuggly.

Image of a brown rat

Brown Rats

The common brown rat has a pointed nose, large bare ears, scaly tail, and grey-brown fur. Known as the fancy rat, the male rats can grow up to 10 inches. 

An undomesticated brown rat can spread diseases through its urine—diseases such as Salmonella, Listeria, Leptospirosis, or Weil’s disease. 

These creatures can also cause a significant amount of structural damage to homes and furniture. An infestation can ruin an a businesses reputation.


Many animal deterrent tips can be found online to get rid of your problem as soon as possible. Things like including cats in the household have been found to get rid of rodents.

If you are struggling with a rat problem at home or your workplace, a AAAC Wildlife Removal can assist you with that. 

We hope that you learned something from all these interesting facts about rats!

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