It’s Rat Day! Celebrated every year on 4th April, it’s a day to commemorate the wonders of our rodent friends. To celebrate, we’re running through our top 10 reasons that rats are really remarkable…
1. Rats are quite smart!
Our rodent friends are actually highly intelligent! They have excellent memories and can recognise both rats and humans that they have met before. Rats can also recognise their own name and respond to their name being called.
2. Their tails are useful tools!
Tails are incredibly important to rats. They help to keep them balanced by being a much-needed centre of gravity. By using their tails to balance, they can then free up their front paws to use for other tasks, like grabbing food! Their tails are also vital in helping them keep cool – aka thermoregulation. Their tails have no fur, making it easier for them to detect changes in heat. When the temperature rises, the blood vessels inside their tail swell, allowing more heat to exit the tail, cooling them down! Pretty cool, huh?
3. Some can sniff out landmines!
Rats have a very keen sense of smell, and us humans have actually used it to our advantage. African Giant Pouched rats have been trained to sniff out the TNT inside of landmines, and they’re the perfect animals for the job. They’re light enough to not set off the explosives as they walk over them, and one rat can search over 2000 square feet in 20 minutes. This would take humans up to four days!
4. They are actually highly sociable
Believe it or not, rats love companionship. It’s actually highly unadvised to just have one rat as a pet, they need other rats around them - they become quite attached to both other rats and their humans. They give just as much affection back as is given to them and some rats will even attempt to ‘groom’ their human companions.
5. Some cultures worshipped them!
Rats weren’t always perceived in a negative light. Some cultures worshipped them! Ancient Romans considered rats to be quite lucky, and both the Ancient Egyptians and Mayans worshipped them. They are also part of the Chinese Zodiac, being considered ambitious and resourceful.
6. They’ve got a pretty unique sense of sight!
Rats have pretty poor eyesight – it’s almost 20 times worse than our own. They do have some amazing adaptations to help, though! Their eyes are on the side of their head and can move in opposite directions. Their eyes are also extremely sensitive to light and have evolves to see in almost complete darkness. They can distinguish between small changes in light and can even see ultraviolet light!
7. Their teeth never stop growing!
Chewing is really important to rats. Their teeth never stop growing so they must gnaw on things to keep them from getting too long. They grow so quickly that no rat tooth is more than 40-50 days old. Their teeth are also quite strong, and some wild rats can even chew through metal!
8. Rats are cleaner than you think
Contrary to popular belief, rats are pretty clean! They’re very particular about keeping clean and actually groom themselves far more than cats. Rats are also less likely to transmit and catch viruses than cats and dogs. Rats also don’t get sweaty armpits! Their only sweat glands are on the skin of their paws.
9. They can grow to unusual sizes!
You might think that rats are small wee things, but they can actually grow quite large. The Bosavi Woolly Rat is considered to be the biggest rat in the word, growing to more than 81cm from head to tail and they weigh more than 3lbs. Scientists have also determined that the average size of rats is increasing.
10. They’re quite nimble!
Rats are pretty agile, being able to squeeze and flatten their bodies into tiny spaces. They’re also adept swimmers, can swim for kilometres above water, and can hold their breath underwater for several minutes. Climbing is no bother for a rat as well. They can scale vertical walls and walk along ropes and power lines.
What’s your favourite rat fact? Let us know in the comments!