There are many myths and legends surrounding rats. Here are the three greatest rat myths.
1) Rats Spread Rabies.
No cases of rabies transmission to a human from a rat have ever been proven.
2) Sewer Rats Are Different From House Rats.
It is a common misconception that sewer rats are different from roof rats. They aren't; they are all the Norway rat, Rattus norvegicus. This also extends to the wharf rat, barn rat and brown rat. Although they are called the Norway rat these actually originated from central Asia. Roof rats are different, they are Rattus rattus, This is the black rat, ship rat or plague rat.
3) Rats Can Get As Big As Cats.
There are frequently stories in the news of rats as big as cats. These stories have never been confirmed. Wild Norway rats don't usually even reach a pound in weight. Occasionally there are a few in captivity which have reached 2 pounds (just under a kilogram). This is unlikely to occur in the wild because in captivity the animals live for longer and are given food rather than having to find it themselves. Some larger animals such as muskrats may be mistaken for rats. Another explanation is that when an adult female rat runs with it's babies they often create a formation which is similar in outline to a huge rat.
4) Rats Are Nocturnal.
It is widely thought that rats are nocturnal but, in fact, they are often just more active at night because it can be safer for them when it is dark. There are many stories of people finding rats scurrying about during the day in places which are usually unattended. This is because the rats will feel safe and will have been surprised to have been disturbed.
Pet rats are crepuscular. This means that they are more active during the twilight hours between daytime and night-time. They intermittently sleep during the night and day. This is one of the reasons they make great pets; they are always ready to play.