Genus and Species of COMMON RATS

Rick Toomey toomey at
Tue Feb 20 18:25:49 EST 1996

dl003b at (D. Lipton) writes:

>	If someone could email me the genus and species of some common rats
>I would greatly apprecaite it.  You'd think it'd be on the Web, but my sorry
>text browser can't seem to find it, os if you could let me knowthat would be
>great.  THanks alot.
>dl003b at

What types of rats are common depend on many factors , such as location, 
habitat, etc. 

In North America, north of Mexico, there are six genera of native 
animals commonly called rats: 

     Neotoma --  Wood (or pack) rats
     Sigmodon -- Cotton rats
     Oryzomys -- Rice rat 
     Neofiber -- Round-tailed muskrat
     Ondatra -- Muskrat
     Dipodomys -- Kangaroo rats.

In addition, one genus of exotic rat also occurs in North America:

     Rattus -- Norway and Black rats.

Of these only the Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus), the Norway rat 
(Rattus norvegicus), and the black rat (Rattus rattus) would 
occur in the neighborhood of Rochester.  Neotoma magister 
(Allegheny wood rat) occurs in the state of New York, but not in your
area and it is not common (actually it is probably on the 
NY state endangered list).    

So, in your area the only really common rat would probably be the
Norway rat.  The muskrat might be relatively common in wetland
areas.  The black rat is generally less common than the Norway 
rat in the northern part of the country and in inlan areas.

Good Luck, 

Rick Toomey
Illinois State Museum
toomey at

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