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Rats are more human than you think – and they certainly like being around us

Still Waters

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Rats have a somewhat unfortunate tendency to enjoy living where people live. That’s how a biologist tried to explain people’s hatred for the rodents in a television news feature about rats gnawing electrical cables in parked cars in the southern Swedish town of Malmö.

The brown rat, Rattus norvegicus, is one of the species best adapted to modern society. These rats have followed humans around the world to become one of the most abundant mammals, spreading from their native distribution in northern China and Mongolia and reaching Europe in the 1500s, possibly even earlier. Black rats, however, arrived in Europe as early as the 1st century AD.

Today almost all wild brown rats are synanthropic, meaning they live in close association with humans, eating our leftovers and using human structures for shelter. The relationship between rats and humans is one of commensalism, a word derived from the Latin term “commensal”, meaning “eating at the same table”.


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I've always admired rats for their ability to live so close and live off the creatures that despise them, us. I don't hunt anymore but rats are the exception and I'm out with the Jack Russells most nights thinning out the population around the farm sheds. We can never win but if not controlled they destroy everything. I still like them more than I do most humans 👍.

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