Biology of Black Rats

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Also called house rats, ship rats, or roof rats, black rats are medium-sized species of rats that bear the binomial name - Rattus rattus. The body of a matured black rat is about 7 inches long and its tail can also be as long as 6 inches. Even though the name suggests that they only come in black color, the resilient rodents actually come in a variety of colors ranging from black to brown, white and a fair green color. You might also want to see rat poop photographs.

Black rats are cosmopolitan in nature, they can be found anywhere habitable on earth and they have been seen in every continent of the world, although some subspecies are specific to certain areas. In addition, they are found in different habitats – temperate, grassland, forest, rainforest, scrub forest, tropical and so on. They are also well adapted to surviving in extreme and unfavorable weather conditions.

Black rats are omnivores; hence they feed on both animal and plant material. They typically consume animal flesh, smaller animals, insects, leaves, fruits, seeds, stems and other related foods. Black rats feed on small quantities of several different foods available, moving from one to the other; and all amount to a considerable amount of food consumed daily. Being nocturnal, they only come out during their active periods at night to eat these foods.

Life cycle
They are naturally polygamous and as such a single male can mate with a couple of females. Each female gives birth to an average of 7 to 12 offspring per litter, and produces about 5 litters each year. Gestation periods last for an average of 23 days. After birth, the females take care of the babies until they are capable of fending for themselves.

The lifespan of a black rat is roughly estimated at a mere 12 months or one year. A few have been known to live for up to 3 years, but this is a rare occurrence. The black rat’s longevity is mostly reduced by predation from bigger animals. Their natural predators consist of owls, coyote, snakes, foxes, hawks and other birds of prey, and about all other carnivorous animals.

These medium-sized rodents are nocturnal in nature, so they are mostly active at night. They are very adept at climbing and can swim a bit too. They females also offer maternal care to their young ones during the first few days of their lives.

Go back to the Rat Removal page, or for more instructions read my How to get rid of rats guide, or learn specifically about How to remove rats in the attic.

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