RAT SPECIES

Recognise rat species

rat can simultaneously act as a pest for storage, materials and health. Therefore, it is essential to know the most critical rat species since a rat such as the brown rat is not infrequently confused with house mouse, vole/muskrat or marten. Therefore, we tell you which rat species you should know in Germany and clarify, with the help of photos and pictures, how the appearance of the essential rat species differs.

The rat belongs to rodents (Rodentia) and the family of mice (Muridae). The rat is a brilliant animal endowed with a strong survival instinct and is characterised by an extremely high reproduction rate.

Although the rat genus includes around 500 different rat species worldwide, two main species are feared pests in Germany: the brown rat and the rarer house rat.

Spotted rats?

Let our experts advise you without obligation.

Difference between rat and house mouse, vole and marten

In contrast to the two rat species, brown rat and house rat, the house mouse is also the same subfamily, Murinae. Still, a significantly smaller rodent, easily distinguished from the rat on closer inspection.

The vole or water vole or the muskrat subspecies as the largest vole species, like the brown rat, also live in earthworks. Still, they represent a separate family within rodents (Arvicolidae), which differ in size and appearance and lifestyle clearly distinguish.

The marten is a dog-like predator found as a carnivore, just like the house rat in attics but readily distinguished from the rat by its shape and size alone.

House rats

(Rattus rattus)

House rats

Look

  • House rats are between 16 and 24 cm tall.
  • Their tail is longer than the head and body combined.
  • House rats weigh 150 to 200 g.
  • Compared to brown rats (Rattus norvegicus), they have a pointed nose, long ears, and slim bodies.
  • They are grey-black or brown-grey.

Reproduction

  • House rats reproduce all year round under favourable conditions.
  • The gestation period for house rats is around three weeks.
  • Approx. 5 to 10 young are born per litter. Therefore, there are 3 to 6 litres per year.
  • There are around 12 to 16 weeks between birth and sexual maturity.

Way of life

  • House rats are often found in or near ports. In Germany, however, they rarely occur.
  • They are very agile and happy to climb but rarely dig passages.
  • House rats are rarely found outside.
  • They prefer juicy fruits as food. So you consume around 15 g of solid food and 15 ml of water per day.
  • In Europe, the number of house rats is falling sharply.

Brown rats

(Rattus norvegicus)

Brown rats

Look

  • Brown rats can reach up to 40 cm, including the tail; the tail is shorter than the body.
  • Brown rats weigh between 350 and 500 g.
  • Compared to house rats, they have a blunt nose, small ears and a compact build.
  • They have coloured brown-grey.

Reproduction

  • Brown rats live in large groups and are very likely to reproduce.
  • The gestation period for brown rats is around three weeks.
  • There are 7 to 8 young per litter. Therefore, there are a total of 3 to 6 litres per year.
  • There are around 10 to 12 weeks between birth and sexual maturity.

Way of life

  • Brown rats live on the ground, and in tunnels, they dug themselves. They are excellent climbers, swimmers, and divers.
  • They are the only type of rat that inhabit the sewers.
  • Brown rats are omnivores. They prefer to feed on grain and waste.
  • Brown rats consume around 30 g of solid food and 60 ml of liquid per day.
  • Brown rats have a pronounced ability to learn.
  • Brown rats are disease carriers and hygiene pests.