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Rats are a species of long-tailed rodent. The most commonly known species is the black rat (Rattus rattus), closely followed by the Fancy rat, Pet Rat or Lab Rat, Rattus Norvengicus. Many members of other rodent families are also called rats and share many characteristics with true rats.
The best-known rat species are the Black Rat (Rattus rattus) and the Brown Rat (Rattus norvegicus). Both are generally known as the Old World rats or true rats, and originated in Asia.
Pet rats are Brown Rats descended from those bred for research, and are often called "fancy rats", but are the same species as the common city "sewer" rat. Domesticated rats tend to be both more docile than their wild ancestors and more disease prone, presumably due to inbreeding.
The common species are capable of surviving naturally, although they are often found living with and near humans. While it is possible for modern wild rats to carry diseases, it's not very common. Those living in good environments are typically healthy and robust animals, opposed to ones living in cities (who may have poor diets and and fall prey to parasites) The normal lifespan of a rat ranges from two to five years, and is typically three years. Rats can be found on every continent on the planet, apart from Antarctica. It has been said that rats will go wherever people go, including to Mars.
Rats are unable to burp or vomit, making them a nonemetic species.
Several fictional species use rats for a base both for appearance and behavior. Examples include Burmecians and Cleyrans from Final Fantasy IX, and Ratonga from EverQuest II. Each are moderately prevalent in fan works (both by furry artists and non-furry fans).
Rat characters in fiction
- Templeton from Charlotte's Web
- Splinter from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
- Nicodemus, Justin, and others from Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
- Rémy from Ratatouille
- Gary from Gary the Rat
- Cluny The Scourge from Redwall (series)
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- Why rats can't vomit at RatBehavior.org