Atlas der Säugetiere Nordrhein-Westfalens
AG Säugetierkunde in NRW
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Black Rats are smaller than Brown Rats, have larger ears, a pointier head and a longer tail. In Central Europe it occurs in three colour variants with the relatively common black animals often can be recognized as Black Rats just based on their colouration. However, it should be considered that there are also black Brown Rats. Black Rats are excellent climbers and can even balance across power lines that connect houses. Thus they can also occupy parts of buildings that Brown Rats cannot easily reach. Black Rats love dry, warm places with a rich supply of food and opportunities to hide, which they find for example in cities, farms mill operations and warehouses of harbours. Free ranging populations are the exception in Germany.
The Black Rat is a classic commensal, which only through, or with humans has populated the entire Earth. Presumably, it was originally at home in India and reached Europe only in prehistoric times where it has an area-wide distribution only in the Mediterranean region. However, in Central Europe there were probably always just island-like occurrences, which were subjects to large population shifts. On the one hand, disadvantageous changes of the living conditions in the settlement area and eradication measures led to the termination of many local populations, and on the other hand, the international freight transport again and again leads to the foundation of new occurrences in suitable places.
At the end of the 20th century, the Black Rat was regarded as practically extinct in North Rhine-Westphalia. The last occurrences that became known in the Ruhr Area in the 1980s were destroyed. But this does not exclude that repeatedly Black Rats are transported to NRW and at least temporarily build up small populations that remain unrecognized for example in warehouses and suitable stables. Thus, studies in the 1990s showed that Back Rats live in the harbours of Cologne, Düsseldorf, Neuss and Wesel. However, there is no information about the current distributions in NRW. Captured animals that are suspected to be Black Rats should be handed for a secure identification to the LWL-Museum für Naturkunde in Münster or the Museum Alexander Koenig in Bonn.
Vierhaus H (2021): Hausratte (Rattus rattus).In: AG Säugetierkunde NRW — Online-Atlas of the mammals of North Rhine-Westphalia. Downloaded from saeugeratlas-nrw.lwl.org on 2021/04/11