The brown rat is a large rodent which is recognised by its brown-grey fur, bald tail and prominent ears. It is now found virtually worldwide thanks to its remarkable ability to live in different habitats, especially alongside humans.
The brown rat is originally native to Asia, but has spread around the world both on foot and by stowing away on sea transport. They use their tails not only for balance, but also to communicate and regulate their body temperature. They are also extremely clean animals, and spend several hours every day grooming themselves and their group members.
Brown rats are very intelligent and live in small social groups, usually all descended from one female, dominated by males. One of nature’s survivors, the brown rat is equally happy in the town or the country and is often found in close contact with man, living in warehouses, farm buildings, lofts, sewers, and rubbish tips. They are creatures of habit and tend to use the same routes and passageways to get from one place to another, leaving clear signs of their passage, which gives us the expression ‘rat run’.
They are mainly nocturnal but will sometimes come out in daylight, especially if they need to forage for food. They are good climbers and build their nests either on trees or underground in burrows. Unfortunately for rats, their remarkable ability to live in all habitats, especially to be able to live alongside humans has lead to them being viewed as a pest and they are regularly trapped or poisoned in order to control their numbers.