This rat was probably introduced to Sydney with the First Fleet.
Despite its name, the Black Rat is usually brown or grey. A distinctive characteristic of rats that helps distinguish them from similarly sized carnivorous marsupials is their front teeth: a pair of chisel shaped incisors with hard yellow enamel on the front surfaces. Other characteristics that identify a Black Rat from other rats include the following:
- Long pointed head (can be more rounded in juvenile).
- Large thin ears (20mm+) which reach middle of eye when bent forward.
- Charcoal grey to black or light brown above, cream or white below; sleek smooth coat.
- Scaly tail, much longer than head and body.
Brown Rat; also, juveniles sometimes mistaken for marsupials or mice.
The Black Rat lives in urban areas. They prefer to live in roofs, cavity walls, trees, scrapes or burrows around farms, making nests of shredded materials. Black Rats are very closely associated with humans, common in urban areas, and are very agile climbers.
The Black Rat has now spread throughout much of coastal Australia and is most commonly seen in urban environments, but also in undisturbed areas around the coast.
Feeding and diet
The Black Rat has successfully adapted to human urbanisation partly because it eats just about anything.
Other behaviours and adaptations
Black Rats are nocturnal, but are often seen during the day.
The Black Rat is a prolific breeder. Females have litters of about five to ten young and may have up to six litters per year. The young are born blind but develop rapidly and are weaned after 20 days.