8 Cool Facts About Rats (Posthumously Starring My Rat, Jones)
I was looking back on some memories on my old rats that I used to have, and I became aware of the fact that, in my almost 5 years running my blog, I’ve never actually done a blog post about rat facts! Crazy, right? So here are eight.
Historians suspect that black rats are at least partly responsible for the outbreak of the first Black Plague (or Black Death) in Europe from 1346-1353, which killed between 75-200 million people. However, rats are only one of the several precipitating factors that lead to the outbreak. If you would like to learn more about rats and the second outbreak of the Black Plague in the 19th century, here is a post I did on rats and the Paris Catacombs.
Although they are cute and little, rats can be quite aggressive with each other and are territorial, often getting violent with rats that are unfamiliar, or that they feel are intruding onto their land. I should know; my second pair of rats ended up fighting so much that they sometimes hurt each other!
Rats, similarly to cats, are self-cleaning. They do this grooming with their tongues, by wiping them across their fur. When I used to have my first rat, Jones, I loved to watch him perch on a spot with his little fat body and brush his little tongue across his brown and white fur.
Some people may find them disgusting, but rats are actually very intelligent. According to several top ten lists, rats place high on that intelligent scale, when compared to other animals. They have been observed solving puzzles, and using metacognition, which the dictionary describes as “awareness and understanding of one’s own thought process,” something that humans possess. I noticed this in Jones when I did a science fair project involving him, where I put him in a Styrofoam maze with cheese at the end and tried to get him to go through it (he ended up getting lazy and jumping over the walls, but you get my point).
Rats, specifically Kangaroo rats, can go longer than a camel without drinking water. Sources vary, but the general length camels can go without drinking water is around half a year, while Kangaroo rats can go 3-5 years, which can be their entire lifespan, without taking a sip! Humans, on the other hand, completely fail this competition, only being able to go about to go 3 days.
Rats make great pets! They are quite loveable animals once you get to know them, and are not too high maintenance while being still fun to play with. I would know, because I’ve had three rats in total. Also, for the parents, a pet rat that is healthy will only last about 2.5 years, so you won’t be stuck taking care of it when your kid goes off to college, like you will with a dog. Here is my goodbye to Jones. Pet rats come in a variety of different colors, many being brown or white/albino, but a few coming in grey, beige, and Russian blue. Some also have a mix of different colors. My first rat, Jones, had a white and brown coat.
Our First Meeting!
Depending on the rat, where they like to sit, or if they like to be touched, can vary, but lots of pet rats like to use a shoulder as a perch, as you can see in the picture above. I guess they just enjoy scoping out the world from a high up spot (or they just like sniffing and nibbling on your ear).