I don’t really like rats but that doesn’t mean I am not curious about them. Rats happen to be a symbol of death and plague and they are feared by many humans and induce disgust into others. While there are some who like to keep them as pets, others try to stay as far away from them as possible. Rats are the main cause of billions of dollars worth of damage every year. They spoil food supplies, chew through the electrical wires and bite babies in their cribs (ouch). Even still, they are beneficial beyond measures to human kind. Listed below are ten of the most fascinating facts about rats. I was a little shocked when I came across them.
10. NORWAY RATS
The most common rats known to human kind is Norway Rat. Some refer to them as the brown rats. They probably originated in China and they can gain up to 2.2 pounds in weight. They plague cities such as New York and London. Their population can vary from a few hundred thousand to a few hundred million of course, that depends on your locality. They can be found nearly in every corner of the globe except the Arctic and Antarctic regions and some areas of Canada and New Zealand. If you domesticate these species, you get the albino rats that are used in laboratory experiments.
9. BLACK RATS
Black Rats do not exist in the huge quantities as before. Their population has been decreased by the Brown Rats. Black Rats used to be the dominant species in Europe. The Black Plague happened because of these rats and million fell as its victims. The black rat is an excellent tree climber and can usually be found in an empty bird nest.
8. HOUSE RATS
There is no such thing as completely ridding your house of rats. No matter what you do, there will still be some, lurking in some pipe. Your average rat has teeth that are harder than iron or steel (according to some researches) therefore, making it a piece of cake for them to gnaw through wood. Once your house has a couple of rats in, there’s no stopping them. You can use poison, but you see, the poison is dangerous for your pets and your children.
7. ZOMBIE RATS
There is a protozoan parasite whose life-cycle can only reach maturity in the body of a cat. That parasite is called Toxoplasma Gondii. This parasite travels from the rat to the cat (hopefully). If the rat is infected by this parasite, their brain chemistry changes and because of this change, they are actually attracted to the scent of a feline rather than being afraid and therefore presenting themselves to a particular feline. It is known to exist in humans as well. It is said that one-third of the humans are affected by this.
6. RATS ARE TOUGH
They may be small and many different animals will hunt them, but make no mistake. These little guys are actually very tough. They can adapt to different environments and climates without much difficulty. Rats can outlive camels when it comes to survival without water. They can swim for about half a mile in water and can even take huge exposure to radiation. They have been known to build up immunities to certain poisons and in a match between your biggest sewer rat and you average cat, the rat will win.
5. RAT HUNTERS
Rats have evolved (kind of) and can now evade the household cats pretty much every time they attack. But rats are a prey to a lot of other creatures for example snakes, hawks and owls. If you must know, special dogs are bred just for the purpose of hunting rats since they are difficult to catch and are somewhat of a food item in many parts of the world for example, China and many countries of Africa. In certain areas of India, rats are actually considered a delicacy while in others they are worshipped. Weird, but true.
4. LAB RATS
Well, most of you would consider this to be utter violence but it also is very necessary. A lot of great researches have been made on the laboratory rats. Lately, rats have been used for tissue engineering. It is controversial process where these rodents can actually grow skin and cartilage for human transplantation.
3. GIANT RATS
If you are afraid of these guys than you definitely will be scared ‘breathless’ if you see the Gambian Pouched Rat. They look like the Norway Rat but they can grow up to weight around 15 pounds; that’s huge. They are eaten in Africa as bushmeat. This particular rat is actually very intelligent and is sometimes used to sniff out mines as well. They are also used to detect the TB virus in a human and can actually do that faster than the scientific machines can. Another thing you should know is that these rats are quite friendly.
2. BABY BOOM
Rats can reproduce at astonishing rates. An active mating pair can have almost 5 clusters of 7 to 15 baby rats in a year. These baby rats become ready for mating in five weeks after their birth. So if you put two rats in a controlled environment, you could end up with hundreds of thousands of rats in a year. In a rat’s first few weeks of life, the mortality has been found to be around 95% which is quite high so such a fast reproduction rate actually makes sense.
1. RAT KING
This is an interesting phenomenon. It’s actually an accident where the tails of many rats get entangled. Most of the Rat King accidents happened in Germany after their discovery in the Middle Ages. The rats get entangled, unable to move and therefore eat, they die at of starvation. The largest Rat King to date was a cluster of 32 rats. They were all mummified and were found in a fireplace in Buchheim, Germany back in 1828. They were preserved and can now be seen at the Mauritianum Museum in Altenburg, Germany.
There you go guys, bet you didn’t know all this about rats, unless of course you are researcher in this field. Hope you enjoyed the read.