How Big Do Rats Get?

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One of the biggest cultural phenomena to be seen in the media and especially in the big cities over recent years is the regular concern and sensational headlines in newspapers about giant rats that are published. This is something that naturally preys on the fear of people, as rats are an animal that is associated with disease and dirty areas, and the idea of huge rats around their home can be a scary one to consider. The truth is that very few rats actually grow into these huge specimens, and in other cases it can be a case of a mistaken identity, but it is still a possibility to find rats in particularly favorable conditions that have grown to a significant size.

The Growth Of Rats Into Adulthood

Rats are a species that have developed alongside people in many areas, and the majority of rats in the United States are either black rats or brown rats, with the brown rats being the larger of the species. Because they have adapted to the food sources around people which are available throughout the year, rats no longer breed in particular seasons, rather they can give birth throughout the year. Rats will usually grow into adults within the space of three to four months, which is how the species can recover a population in relatively quick time, however it is worth noting that in most cases a large majority of the animals will not make it beyond a year old. Read more about What do Wild Rats Eat?

The Biggest Species Of Rats

If you are looking at the largest species of rats in the United States, the brown rat is certainly the most common example that is the largest that most people will find in traps, although there are a few other rat species seen from time to time. Other large rat species tend to be caught rarely, and will usually have been pets released when they get too large, with examples of the Gambian Pouched Rat having been caught from time to time in New York. Elsewhere in the world though, rats can be even larger, with the Sumatran Bamboo Rat sometimes growing to over eight pounds in weight.

Fortunately for many people, a now extinct rat species from East Timor is believed to be the largest ever, and could have weighed around eleven pounds.

The Largest Rats Found In The Wild

When it comes to examples of rats caught by pest control officers, there are plenty of stories that circulate online that don't have the evidence to back up their claims of rats that weigh three or four pounds. In terms of the oldest and largest confirmed rats captured in the United States, there are very few that weigh over two pounds, with the length of the rat's tail often making the species appear bigger than they actually are. Rats that are larger than this will usually be cases of a mistaken identity or a released pet such as the Gambian Pouched Rat, which can weigh over three pounds.

Why Do Rats Thrive In Urban Areas?

One of the major factors that has allowed rats to become one of the most successful animal species in the world is that they can adapt their diet to the food sources that are available around them. They have also become attached to people, and as the human population has increased the rat population has also grown and thrived in the areas around human settlements. The sheer amount of food waste and poorly stored food around people has allowed rats to become the species they are today, and is the real reason why they have been able to thrive and develop into the problem that they are too.

Go back to the Rat Removal page or read my guide for How to get rid of rats.

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