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Intelligent disease carriers: Rats are very clever rodents – they are smart, learn quickly and adapt perfectly to new habitats. At the same time, they multiply at an insane rate. Can transmit many dangerous diseases. This is how rats were responsible for plague epidemics in the Middle Ages.

Home: The original home of the rat is the steppes of Siberia, northern China and Mongolia. From there, however, the animals spread as far as Europe -. Later on ships as stowaways all over the world. Rats are mammals. Belong to the rodents. Worldwide there are about 500 different species of rats, but in our country the Norway rat and the house rat are the best known. Mice are related to rats.

Appearance: Rats have a short snout, small eyes and ears. They are hairy all over the body, their fur is gray-brown, the belly gray-white, the feet pink. The different types of rats vary in size and weight. The Norway rat, for example, weighs about 400 grams and is 20 to 30 centimeters tall; its tail is almost as long. The tail is – in contrast to the rest of the body – naked (only tiny hairs grow on it) and very important: it helps the animals to climb, to orientate themselves and can regulate the body temperature.

Behavior: Rats are nocturnal animals. They can live anywhere and build their nests – in nature, but also in houses, basements and even sewers. Rats live together in large groups of a hundred animals. Defend their habitat together. Rodents can climb, swim and dive well – and smell extremely well. When they sniff food, they can tell if it is good or poisonous and can even communicate that to the other rats.
Enemies: Martens, polecats, owls and foxes hunt rats. But cats also eat rats – that is why people used to have cats in the house. Rats can have children all year round -. Indeed up to seven times a year! After 22 days, the female gives birth to ten young and nurses them. After three months they are already grown up. Can have offspring of their own. This is the reason why rats reproduce so explosively.

FoodRats are omnivores. Seeds, grains, nuts and fruits eat them daily. But they also like insects, lizards and small mammals. They also feed on people's waste – that's why you shouldn't throw food scraps on the floor or down the toilet.

By Willi and Angela Sommersberg

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