Black Rat - Origin, Characteristics and Diet

Black rat: find out what this animal is like, its physical characteristics, character, behavior, etc. Rodents are animals of which certain species are closely associated...

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Rodents are animals, some species of which are closely associated with humans, and in some cases, although not directly domesticated, they thrive in urban centers. The black rat (Rattus rattus) is the perfect example. This rodent of the Muridae family is widespread almost all over the world, where in many cases it causes not only he alth problems, but also crop damage. Join us in this PlanetAnimal file to discover everything about the black rat, its characteristics, its habitat and its habits.


  • Asia
  • India
  • Pakistan

Origin of the black rat

When we talk about the black rat, know that we could qualify it as an invasive species. This is a type of rat native to tropical Asia that colonized Europe during the 8th century. From then on, it spread all over the world until today, where it is considered a parasite. In addition to being able to move along branches and climb trees, the Rattus rattus is able to move and adapt perfectly to urban environments.

Black Rat Characteristics

" The black rat can possibly be confused with the brown rat (Rattus norvegicus), because both are sometimes called the common rat and because they share certain common characteristics. However, the first species has a series of distinctive physical characteristics.Let&39;s take a look at the characteristics of the black rat:"

  • It is a medium-sized rodent: the black rat has a size between 16 and 22 cm approximately. Additionally, the tail is about 19cm long, so it can be as long or longer than the body. On the other hand, the weight is around 300 gr or less.
  • Sexual dimorphism: males are larger and heavier than females.
  • It is usually black in color: the ventral area is lighter, but can be other colors such as brown.
  • Subspecies are not recognized: At one time, subspecies were named according to color differences, but today they are not recognized taxonomically.
  • The coat is described as fine and sloppy: in addition, the youngest specimens have a very uniform dark coat.
  • The skull and nasal bones are somewhat narrow: this contrasts with the large ears, which when folded can almost touch the edge of the eyes.
  • It has an upper first molar: this is the most distinctive feature of the black rat compared to the brown rat.

Black Rat Habitat

The black rat is native to India and Pakistan, but when human populations started to travel by boat, it spread to several countries, until it was present in the whole world.

It is a very common species in coastal areas. However, it is not an animal that swims easily. It also extended to:

  • Urban areas
  • Wooded areas
  • Savannas
  • Brushwood

On the other hand, he has a great facility to climb, which allows him to be present on the heights of buildings.

The black rat proliferated more in tropical regions, as it was gradually driven out of temperate zones by the brown rat, which in its undomesticated form is more aggressive than the roof rat.It usually grows from sea level up to 250 meters above sea level.

Habits of the black rat

Black rats are primarily nocturnal animals that form social groups in which adult males dominate younger ones. In general, females tend to be more aggressive than males, but less mobile than males. Depending on the space where they grow, they can have terrestrial or arboreal habits, as they are excellent climbers, which is why they rely on their long tails for balance.

Nests for young can be either on the ground, in trees or placed high in certain structures. They always settle in a space of about 100 m2 around their food sources, which they defend because they are territorial.

In addition, the Rattus rattus uses different senses to perceive the environment. However, it vocalizes only when it feels threatened or to communicate with group members.

The black rat is an animal that causes some damage to trees, plantations, infrastructure and it can cause serious he alth problems because it is a vector of certain diseases. One of the best known is bubonic plague, caused by bacteria that live in black rat fleas.

A common behavior of roof rats is that they contaminate uneaten food with their feces and urine. As carriers of various pathogens, they can cause serious he alth problems in humans. This is why it is important to maintain hygiene and protect food where the presence of roof rats is known.

Black rat diet

The black rat is omnivorous, although it can consume more foods of plant origin. Thus, he includes in his diet

  • Fruit
  • Seeds
  • Cereals
  • Bark
  • Invertebrate animals

A black rat can consume about 15 grams of food per day, in addition to drinking 15 ml of water per day. When present in plantations and livestock areas, it can cause very heavy damage.

Reproduction of the black rat

Under favorable conditions, the black rat can reproduce all year round, but its peaks are in summer and autumn. It is a polygamous animal that establishes a linear hierarchy to reproduce. The dominant male will have this privilege, as will the dominant females. This social position is established by confrontations within the group.

Females have a gestation period of between 21 and 29 days, and from 3 or 5 months a black rat can reproduce. The young are born blind, deaf and with very little hair and are therefore totally dependent on their mother.At 15 days, they begin to open their eyes and independence and weaning occur 3 or 4 weeks after birth. A female has an average of eight cubs per birth.

Black rat conservation status

Due to its worldwide occurrence and abundance, the status of the species is considered Least Concern. In fact, in some areas it is even considered a pest. In urban centers, cats are the main predators of black rats, while in the wild certain types of birds and some terrestrial carnivores commonly prey on them.

Pictures of Black Rat

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