Rats are disgusting pests, but they are also interesting animals. Here are some little known, but intriguing facts about rats:
We’ve all heard tales of seeing a huge rat here or there, but none of them probably come close to the Bosavi wooly rat, which is a species that was just discovered in 2009. This rat can grow to be over 32 inches long and weigh as much as three pounds. To give you an idea of how big this rat is, the common house rat can reach about 20 inches in length and weigh over 12 ounces. However, while we do not have to deal with these rats, research shows that common rats are growing larger and larger.
Part of the rats’ success at surviving among us is their ability to reproduce extremely quickly. A rat will reach sexual maturity in five weeks, and will continue to reproduce until it is two years old. A female rat will be fertile every three weeks or so, with a pregnancy that also lasts three weeks, and with a litter size that ranges from six to twenty rats.
Throughout history, people hated rats because of the diseases that they spread, and over the years, they have been responsible for the spread of over 40 dangerous illnesses, including leptospirosis, typhus and the bubonic plague. We all know about the Black Death which occured in the Middle Ages and which is believed to have killed over 25 million people. However, some scientists believe that the rats were scapegoated for the spread of this disease, and that gerbils were responsible instead.
The year of the rat
The Chinese zodiac has a year of the rat, and we’ve had a year of the rat in 1984, 1996, 2008, and… 2020. Talk about coincidences – having a pandemic during the year of the rat. However, people born in these years are born with several positive traits according to the zodiac, including cunning, wittiness and prosperity.
Rats are well known for their ability to chew through almost everything from cinder blocks to aluminum, plastic, wood and soft concrete. This proficiency is made possible by the fact that rats’ teeth never stop growing. This is also why rats have to constantly gnaw on everything around them. If they don’t, the teeth will grow too large, and the rats will no longer be able to eat.