Origins Of The Rat

Where Did Rats Come From?


 The Early Ages: One of the earliest ancestors related to mammals and rodents dates back 160 million years ago. It was a shrew like animal which survived off insects and plants. About 100 million years later during the Paleocene age, the first ever rodents began to develop. These little creatures were called murids, and are believed to be the ancestral source of all present-day rats. Both the Norway Rat (Norvegicus) and the Black Rat (Rattus) developed in Asia and have since explored and conquered every continent in the world except Antarctica. 

The Plague: Rats often get their bad reputation from a disease known as the bubonic plague. A deadly disease which killed nearly a third of the population during the middle ages. Fleas infected with the plague would inhabit any mammal they could find. This included gerbils, birds, rats and humans. All mammals suffered from the plague. To blame just one species is unfair. The disease spread so fast because of the poor hygiene during the middle ages. Waste management as well as a poor understanding of germ theory is thought to have held a large responsibility for the rapid spread of early diseases. 

 Domestication: Domestication of the rat came in the early 1800s from a "sport" called rat-baiting. People would capture rats, place them in a pit with a dog, and bet on how long it would take for the dog to kill them. Luckily, blood sports are now banned in almost every country. Jack black, a famous rat catcher became quite fond of the rat and begun to breed them on his own. He would breed the unique looking ones to create new variations. His unique breed of rats became very popular pets for highborn women of the time. Among his most famous clientele was Queen Victoria! Jack Black's favorite variation of rat was the Albino rat. Albino rats at the time had become most trustworthy as a pet. Because of the color variation, people assumed that they were bred, making these rats appear tamed and more intelligent. Jack Black went on to sell many of these rats to scientists and early rat lovers. 

 Fancy Rat Society: The NFRS was founded In 1976 in Great Britain. Due to the large amount of rats showing up at mouse shows, the rat community decided to form an official group of their own. The organization holds many exhibitions throughout the year as well as helps breed and study rats.   

 Today: The year is 2019, and rats are taking over. Thanks to the internet, the rat community now has a growing presence. Do you know someone who is terrified of rats? Simply show them a few recent pics from the iGotRats instagram and they are 99% likely to change their mind.