Brown Rat

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The brown rat, common rat, sewer rat, Hanover rat, Norway rat, Brown Norway rat, Norwegian rat, or wharf rat (Rattus norvegicus) is one of the best known and most common rats.

One of the largest muroids, it is a brown or grey rodent with a body up to 25 cm (10 in) long, and a similar tail length; the male weighs on average 350 g (12 oz) and the female 250 g (9 oz). Thought to have originated in northern China, this rodent has now spread to all continents, except Antarctica, and is the dominant rat in Europe and much of North America—making it the most successful mammal on the planet after humans.[2] Indeed, with rare exceptions (see below) the brown rat lives wherever humans live, particularly in urban areas.

Selective breeding of Rattus norvegicus has produced the laboratory rat, an important model organism in biological research, as well as pet rats.

Contents

Naming and etymology

Originally called the "Hanover rat" by people wishing to link problems in 18th century England with the House of Hanover,[3] it is not known for certain why the brown rat is named Rattus norvegicus (Norwegian rat) as it did not originate from Norway. However, the English naturalist John Berkenhout, author of the 1769 book Outlines of the Natural History of Great Britain, is most likely responsible for popularizing the misnomer. Berkenhout gave the brown rat the binomial name Rattus norvegicus believing that it had migrated to England from Norwegian ships in 1728, although no brown rat had entered Norway at that time.

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