Temporal range: Early Holocene - Recent
|A wild rat in Turkey|
The brown rat (Rattus norvegicus), also known as the common rat, street rat, sewer rat, wharf rat, Hanover rat, Norway rat and Norwegian rat, is a widespread species of common rat. One of the largest muroids, it is a brown or grey rodent with a head and body length of up to 28 cm (11 in) long, and a tail slightly shorter than that. It weighs between 140 and 500 g (4.9 and 17.6 oz). Thought to have originated in northern China and neighbouring areas, this rodent has now spread to all continents except Antarctica, and is the dominant rat in Europe and much of North America. With rare exceptions, the brown rat lives wherever humans live, particularly in urban areas.
Selective breeding of the brown rat has produced the fancy rat (rats kept as pets), as well as the laboratory rat (rats used as model organisms in biological research). Both fancy rats and laboratory rats are of the domesticated subspecies Rattus norvegicus domestica. Studies of wild rats in New York City have shown that populations living in different neighborhoods can evolve distinct genomic profiles over time, by slowly accruing different traits.
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