Black Rat

Rattus rattus

Summary 3

The black rat (Rattus rattus) is a common long-tailed rodent of the genus Rattus (rats) in the subfamily Murinae (murine rodents). The species originated in tropical Asia and spread through the Near East in Roman times before reaching Europe by the 1st century and spreading with Europeans across the world.
lack rats are considered omnivores and eat a wide range of foods, including seeds, fruit, stems, leaves, fungi, and a variety of invertebrates and vertebrates. They are generalists, and thus not very specific in their food preferences, which is indicated by their tendency to feed on any meal provided for cows, swine, chickens, cats, and dogs.[7] They are similar to the tree squirrel in their preference of fruits and nuts. They eat about 15 grams (0.53 oz) per day and drink about 15 millilitres (0.53 imp fl oz; 0.51 US fl oz) per day.[8] Their diet is high in water content.[7] They are a threat to many natural habitats because they feed on birds and insects. They are also a threat to many farmers since they feed on a variety of agricultural-based crops, such as cereals, sugar cane, coconuts, cocoa, oranges, and coffee beans.[9]

Black rats adapt to a wide range of habitats. In urban areas they are found around warehouses, residential buildings, and other human settlements. They are also found in agricultural areas, such as in barns and crop fields. In urban areas they prefer to live in dry upper levels of buildings, so they are commonly found in wall cavities and false ceilings. In the wild, black rats live in cliffs, rocks, the ground, and trees.[9] They are great climbers and prefer to live in trees, such as pines and palm trees. Their nests are typically spherical and made of shredded material, including sticks, leaves, other vegetation, and cloth. In the absence of trees, they can burrow into the ground.[8] Black rats are also found around fences, ponds, riverbanks, streams, and reservoirs.[7]
Nests are constructed from grass and twigs, often in roof spaces, a habit which earned the species the further common name of 'roof rat' (2). Breeding takes place between March and November; 3 to 5 litters can be produced in a year, each litter containing 1-16 young (although the average is 7). A single female can therefore produce a huge number of offspring; 56 young were recorded on a London ship for a single female (4). At 12-16 weeks of age, females are capable of breeding; they are also able to conceive whilst still suckling the previous litter, which further maximises their reproductive capability (1).Maximum lifespan in the wild is less than 18 months; populations have very high mortality rates, mainly as a result of widespread pest control measures (4). The black rat is a notorious pest, and was the host of the fleas that carried bubonic plague (2). It also carries a host of other diseases and is damaging to property and food stores (1).

Sources and Credits

  1. (c) Alex O'Neal, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA),
  2. (c) Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad - INBio, Costa Rica., all rights reserved, uploaded by nataliemarisa,
  3. Adapted by nataliemarisa from a work by (c) Wikipedia, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA),

More Info

Range Map

iNat Map

Taxa mammal
Endangered status least concern