Rat Fact Sheet

Common Name:


Scientific Name:


Wild Status:

Least Concern


Terrestial or arboreal


Originated in Asia - now worldwide



Life Span:

2-3 years


7-18 inches depending on species

Cool Facts:

  • Rats have a great sense of balance, which is one reason why they can climb so well
  • Rats were one of the first animals to make a trip into outer space!
  • Like a cat, a rat loves to snooze! Rats can spend 76% of daylight hours sleeping.
  • While domestic rats are friendly and great pets, wild rats & mice can carry many diseases.
  • Rats are actually great swimmers! Some species can swim distances of almost a mile, and some can hold their breath for 3 minutes!


Rats are medium sized rodents, and generally refers to two main "true rats" - the black rat, and the brown rat. The main way to tell rats & mice apart, is their size -  Rats are bigger, while mice are smaller. The tail of a rat is very long, hairless, and actually helps it regulate their body temperature! Rats have an extremely good sense of smell - so good, that they have been trained to detect landmines, or even tuberculosis just through smelling alone! While many people are scared or disgusted as rats because they are seen as bigger and dirtier than mice, when domesticated, rats do not pose any more of a health risk than a cat or dog, and can be quite friendly.

Taxonomic Breakdown:

Kingdom: Animalia > Phylum: Chordata > Class: Mammalia > Order: Rodentia > Super Family: Muroidea> Family: Muridae Subfamily: Murinae> Genus: Rattus

Conservation & Helping:

Rats are of least concern on the endangered species list, and are found on all continents except Antartica.

For Teachers and Educators


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