Rat Season:Autumn / Winter
Identifying RatsThere are two species of rat in Britain, which are commonly known as the Brown Rat and and the Black Rat or Ship Rat.
Brown RatThe Brown Rat measures around 23cm in length, without counting the tail, and weighs over half a kilo. The Brown Rat has a tail which is shorter than its body length and has small hair-covered ears and a blunt muzzle. It is the commoner species and stays near ground level. To make a nest it will burrow underground or into refuse tips, loose soil under sheds or earth banks. Chewed paper, straw or insulation material may be used as nest material. In towns, Brown Rats often live in sewers but in the countryside they populate fields and hedges.
Black RatThe Black Rat is slightly shorter than the Brown Rat and weighs about half as much. It has long thin tail that is longer than its body, large, almost hairless ears, a more slender body and a pointed muzzle. The Black Rat can be found in seaport towns and is a more agile climber, often entering the upper floors of buildings.
The Black Rat has different shaped droppings to the Brown Rat, and tends to run on its toes, unlike the Brown Rat who runs flat-footed.
Like mice, rats reproduce at alarming rates and carry and transmit many different diseases. They need to gnaw, like mice, to keep their rapidly growing incisor teeth worn down. Rats damage woodwork, plastic and lead pipes and will sometimes strip insulation from electrical cables by their gnawing. Rats feed mostly at night and an average rat will eat 50g of food a day.
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