10 facts about rats!
2020 is the Chinese Year of the Rat…
Discover more about these intelligent creatures in our fab facts about rats…
Year of the Rat!
The rat is the first of a 12-year cycle of animals that appears in the Chinese Zodiac, so if you were born in 2008, you were born in a rat year, too. Chinese astrologers say that means you’re funny, smart, successful, are a quick thinker and welcome challenges. Read more about Chinese New Year in our 30 cool facts about China.
1) Rats are medium-sized rodents with a long tail. A group of rats is called a ‘mischief’!
2) Rats are mainly nocturnal and live underground. Although they vastly outnumber humans, we rarely see them. They are experts at staying out of sight!
3) Throughout human history, rats have travelled with us around the planet, stowing away on boats and settling wherever humans live. They feed on the food we throw away and can spread diseases among humans, like the medieval Black Death, which was spread by fleas that lived on rats.
4) Rats’ super-strong teeth never stop growing! They have to keep nibbling to wear them down – or eating would become impossible!
5) Their whiskers are more sensitive than human fingertips! Rats brush the long hairs against objects or the floor, helping them build up a detailed picture of their environment.
6) With eyes on either side of their head that can move in opposite directions, rats are even able to see what’s happening above them. Very handy for spotting any rat-eating birds!
7) Rats can hear well, including sounds that are too high-pitched for humans to hear. They may also ‘smile’ with their ears! When they’re happy their ears relax, become droopy and slightly pinker. Aww!
8) They wash by constantly licking their fur – sometimes they’ll even ‘comb’ it into place with their teeth. Yes, rats are squeak-y clean!
9) Rats’ long tails are used for balance and to keep themselves cool – they can direct some of their body heat out through them! They’re also great swimmers, able to hold their breath for several minutes.
10) A single rat can leave 25,000 droppings a year – poo–ey!