Rats are medium sized, long tailed rodents belonging to the superfamily Muroidea. Many members of other genera and families of rodents are also referred to as rats since they share several features similar to that of rats that were true. They’re different from mice and should be confused together. Rats are big muroid rodents while mice are little muroid rodents. Muroid family is a really complex family and the terms mice and rat aren’t taxonomically relevant.
These species are generally known as Old World rats or true rats and they originated in Asia. They are bigger than Old World mice which weigh hardly 500 grams. The term rat is also used for some small animals which aren’t true rodents for instance, kangaroo rats, bandicoot rats and North American pack rats. They’re also rodents but don’t belong to the genus Rattus. Males are known as bucks, unmated females are called as does and the pregnant females are called dams. The young ones are called kitten or pups. A group of rats can be termed as pack or mischief. In some developed countries the domesticated rat species have been kept as pets in houses. R. norvegicus is usually kept as pet and it originated in China and spread to Europe and finally in the New World. Pet brown rats are also known as fancy rats.
The usual species behave as commensals as they live human surroundings. Such cause enormous harm of the stored food items. Many species of black and brown rats have become endangered due to loss of natural habitats. Wild rats are known to be carriers of a number of parasites and pathogens like Toxoplasma gondii. Specially bred species are kept as pets since the 19th century. Pet species don’t cause any type of damage to other pet animals like dogs and cats.
With the publication of Rat Genome Sequence Brown Rat is now an extremely useful genetic tool. Domestic species differ from wild ones in a number of ways. They are calm and barely bite and are able to tolerate crowding into a greater extent. Their brain, adrenal glands and heart, kidneys, liver are smaller compared to wild rats. Collars are consumed as food by people and sometimes eaten in emergency conditions too. Bandicoot rodents are the famous foods of some Southeast Asian locations. Their meat is a fantastic source of protein. Rice field rats are traditionally consumed as food in the rice producing regions like Philipppines, Thailand and Combodia. Rattus rattus and the rat flea Xenopsylla cheopis are very notorious for their eminent role in the transmission of bubonic plague.
They have a unique role in both faith and culture. In India it is regarded as the vehicle of Lord Ganesh. Their statue is always found at the Ganesh temple. In the Chinese culture it’s first of the twelve animals of Chinese zodiac. European institution with rats is strongly negative. Rats are used as substitute for vulgar interjections in the English Language. They have been hated as they act as vectors for a range of disease causing agents and have dirty habits. They’ve been used as experimental animals since time immemorial. One of the famous stories about rats is The Pied Piper of Hamelin where a rat catcher saved the town from rats with the magic tune of his flute. The genus Rattus presently contains 64 species.
They are both beneficial as well as harmful.