Rattus rattus

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Rattus rattus - Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Karlsruhe, Germany (click to enlarge)
Author: H. Zell
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Rattus rattus (Linnaeus) - (black rat)

The black rat is one of the most common vertebrate pests with a world-wide distribution. It is very important as a storage pest and as a reservoir of human diseases, which includes lethal diseases like the bubonic plague. Rodenticides in form of baits are the only practical control option.

The origin of the black rat might have been Asia, but it is known from Europe since prehistoric times. Other regions have been quickly colonised along human travel routes. Even remote islands have been invaded when the rat followed human visitors and settlers. The most common mode of spread appears to be by ship to harbour cities and further inland by trucks (Berthier et al., 2016).

Vernacular names
• Deutsch: Hausratte
• English: black rat
roof rat
ship rat
• Español: rata negra
• Français: rat noir

The typical adult is about 35-40 cm long, slightly smaller than the brown rat, see the illustration below for other differences. This includes the tail which is slightly longer than the body. The colour is mostly black but different color forms exist. A pregnancy lasts about 3-4 weeks and will usually produce a litter size of 5-10.

For details see the respective page in Wikipedia.