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What is a rat’s mating habits? (both Black Rat and Norway Rat)

Rats are incredible creatures, and for a variety of reasons. Not only can they swim, climb, dig and chew their way through most materials we humans might put in their path, they can also mate at an incredible rate. The male brown rat, for example, can ejaculate several times in a row, and this ensures the continuation of their species. One male rat can get many female rats pregnant, and the more females there are in the group that are displaying mating signs, the more frenzied the males will get. It’s a continuous cycle, and you can understand how an infestation of just a couple of rats could soon lead to a very big problem, in some cases, hundreds of rats.

Things get even more exciting for the brown, also known as the Norway rat. Female partners will often “switch” their male partners around, particularly if there is a large group of rats all mating together. It is, quite literally, a free-for-all, and the more dominant males will not only mate with many more females, their sperm is also more likely to work.

All in all, it’s a very good time for the rats, and a very bad time if you’re a human with a rat infestation. It really is a party going on in that nest!

Just for the record, the females have a great time of things too. As well as switching males during “sessions” to ensure they most definitely get pregnant, the female brown rat will also be ready to mate as soon as she has had her last litter. The pregnancy itself only lasts for three weeks, so a female rat can quite easily become pregnant twice in one month. They also mate right throughout the year, and the better the conditions are, the faster and more frequently they will mate too! Your attic provides perfect conditions, by the way.

Recent studies have also shown that the brown rat actually takes their decision-making processes to an entirely different level. Female rats much prefer males they haven’t already mated with, and they also prefer to mate with males who have not been subject to stress during their younger, adolescent years.

That’s quite a dating checklist!

Things aren’t quite as happy if you’re a black rat. The population for he black rat has declined somewhat with the introduction of the brown rat. You can still find the black rat if you look hard enough, of course, and they are usually spotted in more farm-regions, as we previously discussed. Many places around the world have managed to almost entirely eradicate the black rat, however, but the numbers soon increase again. They can mate just as frequently and with just as much determination as their cousins, the brown / Norway rat. With groups that usually consist of many males and females, there will be a hierarchy, of sorts, in the males, with one male considered dominant at the top. There will usually be a couple of “dominant” females in the group too.

Just like the brown / Norway rat, the black rat will mate all year round if the right conditions allow it, but they do prefer summer and autumn. Usually, three to five litters per year are expected, and the rat can actually fall pregnant within just a few months of her last litter.

The black rat’s pregnancy is usually slightly longer than the brown rat’s, but only by a few days to a week. In short, both black and brown rats reproduce at such a staggering rate, you definitely wouldn’t want to invite these rodents into your property. Find out how you could rat-proof your home today.

For more rat information, visit our rat removal tips page, or for more specific how-to instructions, read the how to get rid of rats page with 6 step-by-step instructions. If you have a problem with rats above your ceiling in your house, read my rats in the attic guide. The most important part of rat control is sealing shut entry holes into the building, but after you've done that, you'll want to know how to kill rats humanely to complete the rat control job. If you need to hire professional help in your city, click on my directory of over 200 rat removal companies servicing 95% of the USA. we can help your with your rat problem!
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