Black Rat / Rattus rattus / جرذ أسود

Picture Resource: By Liftarn - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0Link

Status: Unknown

Systematic (order, family) – Rodentia, Muridae

Description – A large dark rodent, with a scaly, hairless tail, which is longer than its body. The ears are long and rounded, but the eyes are small. They have sharp incisors, which grown continuously, that are adapted for grinding hard foods, for digging, and for defense. The incisors covered at the front side with hard enamel that doesn't erode and at the back side soft dentin. The front legs also used for holding food while eating and for digging.

Distribution in the country and worldwide – Found around the world on every continent except Antarctica. Widespread all over Palestine.

Habitat – In the desert region it lives in localities and oases. Widespread in cities and farms.

Behavior – largely nocturnal, excellent climbers, swimmers, and runners. In scattered population they are solitary or live in pairs, but in densely populated areas they live in groups with a well-defined social hierarchy. Each group has one dominant male, several inferior males and several females. They mark their territories using scent glands and leave trails of dung and urine. They have a very good sense of smell, hearing and vision. Rats are omnivores, but prefer fruits, vegetables, and seeds and will also consume meat, insects, bird eggs, chicks, small mammals, and household waste. They are able to eat about a third of their weight and drink up to 38 ml of water per day.

Breeding/mating (season, how and where) – The Rats reproductive capacity is very high, and reproduction occurs throughout the year. The dominant male in the group will mate with all the females, who produces 3-6 litters a year with 5-10 pups in each. Pregnancy lasts 21-22 days. After birth, the female puts her young in the nest, which she built in advance. The pups are born small, hairless, blind and helpless, weighing 5-10 grams and open their eyes at the age of two weeks and are weaned at three weeks. At six weeks they become independent and at the age of three months they reach sexual maturity. Rats live about a year in wild settings and 3-4 years around human settlements.

Weight and size – Body length of about 18cm. Tail length of about 21.5cm. Weight averages 150g (100-200g).

Threats and hazards – Because they cause serious damage to agriculture in plantations, chew electric and telephone cables, many are poisoned or trapped. Their natural enemies are snakes, owls and mammalian predators. Cannibalism is also a dominant factor, with newly born rats being eaten by adults from other colonies.

Cool facts – Rats are very suspicious about new foods, and if one is found, the group will send one rat to taste and check the food. If the rat dies it gives a warning to the group.

Conservation status – Least concern