Brown Rat (Rattus norvegicus)
I observed these rats come out of undergrowth to feed on bird seed which had been dislodged from a feeding point on a nature reserve. I was surprised how many there was, and all appearing in an orderly fashion, some following one behind the other.
Also called the ‘Common Rat’ or ‘Norway Rat’, these rodents are very good swimmers and divers, and fair climbers. They spend quite a lot of time washing and grooming themselves. The female can give birth to 6-11 pups, and can have up to 5 litters in a year. They are predated on by cats, foxes and owls, which tend to go for the young. The Brown Rat is an intelligent creature, and one of the most successful followers of humans for thousands of years, eating, breeding, and nesting amidst the population.
As omnivores, they eat seeds, plants, fruit, human food, mice, birds, eggs, fish and carrion. They can live up to 18 months
Brown rats are found in towns and cities, on farms, rubbish tips, in sewers, warehouses and storehouses, waterways, and also in hedgerows, wasteland, and agricultural fields. They live in large colonies in tunnels which maybe used for generations. Originally introduced to Britain from Asia in the 18th century, they are a common and widespread species.
Photographs taken October 2012, parkland, Staffordshire.