The brown rat, also referred to as common rat, street rat, sewer rat, Hanover rat, Norway rat, brown Norway rat, Norwegian rat, or wharf rat (Rattus norvegicus) is one of the best known and most common rats.
One of the largest muroids, it is a brown or grey rodent with a body up to 25 cm (10 in) long, and a similar tail length; the male weighs on average 350 g (12 oz) and the female 250 g (9 oz). Thought to have originated in northern China, this rodent has now spread to all continents except Antarctica, and is the dominant rat in Europe and much of North America—making it by at least this particular definition the most successful mammal on the planet after humans. With rare exceptions, the brown rat lives wherever humans live, particularly in urban areas.
Brown rats are capable of producing ultrasonic vocalizations. As pups, young rats use different types of ultrasonic cries to elicit and direct maternal search behavior, as well as to regulate their mother’s movements in the nest. Although pups will produce ultrasounds around any other rats at 7 days old, by 14 days old they significantly reduce ultrasound production around male rats as a defensive response. Adult rats will emit ultrasonic vocalizations in response to predators or perceived danger; the frequency and duration of such cries depends on the sex and reproductive status of the rat. The female rat will also emit ultrasonic vocalizations during mating.
It is often said that there are as many rats in cities as people, but this varies from area to area depending on climate, living conditions, etc. Brown rats in cities tend not to wander extensively, often staying within 20 m (66 ft) of their nest if a suitable concentrated food supply is available, but they will range more widely where food availability is lower. There is great debate over the size of the population of rats in New York City, with estimates from almost 100 million rats to as few as 250,000. Experts suggest that New York is a particularly attractive place for rats because of its aging infrastructure, high moisture, and high poverty rates. In addition to sewers, rats are very comfortable living in alleyways and residential buildings, as there is usually a large and continuous food source in those areas.
The only brown rat-free zones in the world are the continent of Antarctica, some (although not all) parts of the Arctic, some especially isolated islands, the province of Alberta in Canada, and certain conservation areas in New Zealand.
(Font: Australian Wikipedia)