Rats Unexpected Guests

When food scraps were left out for some of our local feathered friends recently, some unexpected guests arrived.

Let’s meet Mrs Rowena Rat and her eldest daughter Rita, courtesy of regular subscriber to Thurles.Info, Mr Michael Bannon, (Thanks Michael.) who forwarded this rare close-up video clip to us for editing and sharing.

The Brown Rat or Common Rat, (Rattus Norvegicus) is one of the best known of rats found in Ireland. This brown rodent lives wherever humans live, in both rural and urban areas and in the absence of humans, prefer damp environments such as river banks. The animal came to Europe possibly from central Asia and most likely China.

One of the largest of the super family of rodents, which includes hamsters and gerbils, the common rat displays a brown or grey fur coat, while the underparts are lighter grey or brown. The rodent has a body length of up to 25 cm (10 ins) long, with a similar tail length. The species is a true omnivore and will consume almost anything, but cereals form a substantial part of its diet.

The brown rat can breed right through the year, with females producing up to five litters each year. The gestation period for a female rat is just 21 days and litters can number between six and fourteen in total. Rats do groom each other and usually sleep together in burrows. It’s life span can be up to three years, but most of them rarely survive past one year of age, due to human, other animal predators and inter-species conflict. Their yearly mortality rate is estimated as high as 95%.

Brown rats have very acute hearing, and are sensitive to ultrasound. Adult rats can emit ultrasonic vocalizations in response to predators or other perceived danger, which is unheard by the human ear. However they can also produce communicative noises capable of being heard by humans. Usually they are more active at night, but as this video confirms, they will also hunt during daylight hours. These rodents are also excellent swimmers, both on the surface and underwater.

Brown rats may carry a number of pathogens which can result in disease, such as the dreaded Leptospirosis (Weil’s Disease,) Rat Bite Fever, Cryptosporidiosis, and Viral Hemorrhagic Fever. Brown rats however are mistakenly believed to be a major reservoir for Bubonic Plague. Rats are normally very shy creatures, but in the wild will bite as a last resort of defence, if it feels cornered.

The brown rat is kept as a pet in many parts of the world e.g. United States, United Kingdom and Australia in particular, with countries forming Rat Associations similar in nature to our Kennel Clubs, which promote responsible pet ownership.
This video was captured on a Flip HD Video Camera ideal for capturing nature, upclose and personal.


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