There are many different types of rats. In fact, the actual number according to the zoologist doing the counting is anywhere between 60 and 700 species. That’s quite a spectrum considering the most common types of rats (the ones you are most likely to have come across) are only two: Rattus rattus (the black variety), and Rattus Norvegicus, a Norwegian brown rat.
Let’s look at some of the different types of rats you are likely to come across.
Type #1: Rattus Norvegicus (Brown Rats)
These are brown Norway rats, also known variously as wharf rats, brown rats, sewer rats, or any other location-specific name. These types of rats have a hairless tail, gray underbelly, and tiny years. You can find Norway rats in ground floors, basements, woodpiles and in fields.
This is mainly informed by the fact that they are not good climbers. They are, however, proficient swimmers who consider city sewers ideal swimming pools. They eat nuts, fish, cereals, meat, and seeds. You cannot put it beyond a wild Norway rat to gnaw on humans and animals.
Type #2: Rattus Rattus (Black Rats)
Unlike the Norway rats, Rattus rattus, or black rats, are expert climbers. They can be found on roofs, ships and houses. Hence, they derive their secondary names from wherever they are located. For instance, these different types of rats include ship rats, roof rats, and house rats.
They are characterized by a light-coloured underbelly and have long naked tails and big ears. They however hate swimming. As a result, they keep off sewers. You can find them in attics, on trees and on roofs. From their elevated position, they gnaw on fruits, grains, snails, slugs, pet foods, and decaying garbage.
Type #3: Marsh Rice Rats (Marsh Rice Rats)
This is a medium-sized rat that resembles brown and black rats. However, it has a different colour between the under- and upperparts. Its upper body is either gray or grayish brown. Its head is however slightly lighter and has tiny cheek pouches. It also features short, thick fur.
The upper and underparts are contrastingly different. Both the feet and the underparts are off-white while the ears and upperparts feature the same colour, safe for the patch of light hairs. Marsh rice rats have a dark brown tail that is slightly pale underneath. Their long guard hairs feature un-pigmented silver tips. As a rice rat swims, its fur traps air in to reduce heat loss and increase buoyancy.
Type #4: Wood Rats (Pack Rats)
Also known as a pack rat, this bushy-tailed rodent weighs on average 405 grams for males while females weigh in at an average of 270 grams. The actual body size of a packrat is influenced by the climate it lives in. Packrats have large ears, long tails, and big black eyes. They use sticks, twigs, and other debris to build nests. You can find these types of rats in attics, in cars where they wreak havoc to your car’s wiring system.
In a word, they can be quite the nuisance. They have a peculiar habit of dropping whatever they are carrying to pick up something else that catches their fancy; and they love glistening objects. They can also be quite showy and noisy. They build nests in tiny caves and in rock clefts, and where humans are close by, they move into attics and house walls.
Type #5: Apodemus Flavicollis (Yellow-Necked Field Rats)
Scientifically known as Apodemus flavicollis, the yellow-necked field rat is commonly found in rural areas. These different types of rats are more likely to invade your property than a wood rat. Due to their habit of burrowing into anything they come across such as electrical wires, they are a major cause of fire accidents. They also chew on food and contaminate it in the process. Yellow-necked field rats prefer to stay in woodlands or rural areas and in buildings.
Once the breeding season starts in March or April, the games don’t stop until October. Considering they have a gestation period of 25 days, they can populate your neighbourhood pretty fast. The yellow-necked field rat can live for up to twelve months. Their backside is covered with fur while the underside is decorated with white hair. You can tell them apart by their strip of yellow fur circling their neck. They feature an unusually long tail and have large protruding eyes.
Type #6: Mus Musculus (House Rats)
Mus Musculus is the scientific name for a house rat. They are mainly found in homes and have an unusual sense of smell, hearing, touch, and vision, a unique ability that makes them highly adaptable to different types of environments. This “little thief” as it is variously known is highly agile and can get into a building through a quarter-inch hole. By reproducing up to 10 times a year with up to 7 pups per incident, they can populate neighbourhoods extremely fast. These types of rats are one of the most common household pests.
Besides, they only need a month to reach sexual maturity. Among their distinguishing characteristics include a dusty gray colour, a size of 2.5 to 4 inches without the tail, a slender body and a small head, and moderately large eyes, which ironically don’t help much since they are colour blind. They can live for up to two years.
Rats are ravaging pests. They leave a trail of destruction wherever they pass. They can burrow into furniture, cushions, wood, mattresses, and all manner of food items. Although you may not actually see them, their presence is evidenced by the contamination they leave behind.