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Background information on Rats

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The most common rat species kept as a pet is Rattus norvegicus. Free-ranging Norway rats live in and about human habitations and on ships and have become naturalized by commerce in most parts of the world. The rats bred in captivity for several purposes - for feeding captive reptiles, for research in laboratories and sold as pets - are all fully domesticated descendants of the free-ranging Norway rat. Pet rats come in many different colors, including albino (white with pink eyes), beige, black, brown, blue and gold, and in many different patterns, including Siamese, spotted and hooded. Albino rats have poor eyesight, and all rats rely on whiskers and scent for sensory input, sometimes weaving their head back and forth to focus on objects.


Credit: Used with permission of the Zoological Education Network.
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