Black Rat

The black rat (Rattus rattus) is commonly known in Australia. It feels right at home in urban areas, and it won’t have any troubles moving in with you, as long as food sources are constantly available. We’ve gathered some important black rat information that will help you identify and understand better this species’ behaviour.

Black rat characteristics

Black Rat - Featured Image
Pakhnyushchy /
  • Scientific name: Rattus rattus
  • Colour: Not just black, but could also be grey or brown
  • Weight: Up to 230g
  • Size: Between 13 and 19 cm, minus the long tail
  • Danger: As bacteria carriers, they can threaten your family’s health
  • Region: Throughout urban areas in Australia, mainly the coastal parts

How to identify a black rat

Despite the name, the black rat is not necessarily black. Its fur could vary from black to brown or gray, depending on the species.

Unlike other rats, the black rat has some specific characteristics that can help you identify it right away. Along with the colour, the ears are quite distinguishable. They are thinner and longer. The head is also a bit longer than usual, and the tail exceeds the body size.

Are black rats common in Australia?

  • Black rats can have multiple litters in just one year, up to six to be exact. Each litter can consist of up to 10 baby black rats.
  • The little ones develop quite rapidly, as they are weaned by the mother after just 20 days and need no more than 16 weeks to become sexually active.
  • The nests are usually built in the form of a sphere with the help of shredded pieces of material, as well as sticks or leaves, depending on the location.
  • A black rat has a considerably short lifespan of approximately 1 year. On rare occasions and depending on the circumstances, this period can be extended to 2 years.

Read more on: Rat Life Cycle: Lifespan and Habitat

What do they eat and how they get inside your home?

  • The black rat’s diet is diversified. They can eat pretty much what you do, but they can be picky eaters at times. They prefer fruits, seeds and can also resort to farms’ crops and even small birds.
  • The black rats are normally active at night when they look for food. Although they try to feed on sight as quickly as possible. When that’s not an option, they will hide their supplies for later.
  • As excellent climbers, the black rats prefer to nest in roofs, trees and holes around farms.

Are black rats dangerous?

  • These types of rats are vastly dispersed throughout Australia. They exceed the numbers of brown rats, making them a serious threat to homes and families.
  • Black rats are very adaptable. When undisturbed, they will multiply and thrive in urban areas, as long as there are accessible food and water sources.
  • The species can easily transmit bacteria. Black rats can spread diseases like Hantavirus, Streptococcus pneumoniae and others. So, if you have even the slightest doubt that there are black rats in your house, it is best to request an inspection by a qualified pest controller.

Do you suspect there are black rats in your house?

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