Rat Facts | Target 1 Pest Control Birmingham & The Black Country
The rat has plagued humans for thousands of years - the rat flea was responsible for the Black Death. There are two species of rat in Britain, commonly known as the Brown Rat and Ship Rat.
The Brown Rat is the larger, often weighing over half a kilo and measuring about 23cm, without counting the tail. It has a blunt muzzle, small hair-covered ears and a tail that is shorter than its body length.
Both species breed rapidly and become sexually mature in about three months. Each female may produce from three to 12 litters of between six and eight young in a year.
Brown rats will burrow underground or into suitably soft material to make a nest. Refuse tips, loose soil under sheds and earth banks are all likely sites and chewed paper, straw or insulation material may be incorporated as nest material.
Rats, like mice, need to gnaw to keep their constantly growing incisor teeth worn down. They damage woodwork, plastic and lead pipes and will sometimes strip insulation from electrical cables by their gnawing.
Rats will hoard food for future consumption and numerous cases of “theft” have been found to be the work of rats. They feed mostly at night and an average rat will eat 50g of food a day.
They are also capable of spreading many diseases from their filthy surroundings in sewers or refuse tips and can transmit food poisoning, Weil’s disease (from which about ten people and a number of dogs die each year in the UK), murine typhus, rat bite fever, trichinosis and other diseases.
They are probable carriers of foot and mouth disease on farms. They contaminate more food than they consume and their urine can pollute stagnant water.