There are two main types of rats, black rats and brown rats. Both appear on every continent, excepting Antarctica. They are omnivorous. Rats produce 3 to 6 litters per year on average, and live for up to 3 years under ideal conditions. They are nocturnal, and will usually drive away any mice in the area.
Black rats, aka roof/house/ship rats, may be black and/or light brown, with a lighter color on the underside. They are generally 15-20 centimeters long with tails up to 20 centimeters long. Brown rats are either brown or dark gray, with lighter colored undersides. They are generally 20-25 centimeters long with tails up to 25 centimeters long.
Black and brown rats are almost never found together. Black rats are smaller and more agile than brown rats, and prefer to live in elevated locations; in human habitations, they are usually found in attics. Brown rats prefer subterranean nests, and are often found in crawlspaces, basements, beneath porches, etc. Brown rats are excellent swimmers, and are often found near wharfs or piers.
Rats are notoriously disease-ridden. They are largely credited with being the source of the Black Plague (1347-1351), which wiped out over one-third of the civilized world's population. They carry bubonic plague, dengue fever, ebola virus, hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, cryptosporidiosis, Q fever (the most infectious disease in the world), leptospirosis, and rabies.
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