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If you don’t like rats, look away now!

170927 Brown rat (4)

While I realise that a blog about rats might not appeal to everyone, I rarely get to see or write about mammals so, when these two rats came brazenly sniffing around for the seeds I was feeding to the birds at Cosmeston, I couldn’t resist taking photos. And once I have photos, a blog shall surely follow.

These are Brown rats (Rattus norvegicus), immigrants from central Asia that arrived in Britain around 1720. Of course, I don’t mean these two individuals arrived in 1720 – rats usually only live about a year in the wild – but their ancestors were sea-going rodents that just loved to sail the oceans wide and jumped ship wherever they docked. Nowadays, rats are more settled, and they’ll live almost anywhere – houses, gardens, parks, farmlands and farm buildings – you name it, there’s probably a rat in it somewhere.

170927 Brown rat (5)

They particularly like cereals – so, my bird seed would’ve gone down a treat – but they’ll eat pretty much anything, from small birds and their eggs to molluscs and food scraps. If you’re someone who hates these much-maligned creatures, remember that they too play an important part in the food chain, in particular as food for the owls and foxes that everyone loves.