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Temporal range: Early Pleistocene – Recent
The brown rat (Rattus norvegicus)
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Muridae
Tribe: Rattini
Genus: Rattus
Fischer de Waldheim, 1803
Type species
Rattus rattus
Linnaeus, 1758

68 species

  • Stenomys Thomas, 1910
  • Acanthomys Gray, 1867
  • Christomys Sody, 1941
  • Cironomys Sody, 1941
  • Epimys Trouessart, 1881
  • Geromys Sody, 1941
  • Mollicomys Sody, 1941
  • Octomys Sody, 1941
  • Pullomys Sody, 1941
  • Togomys Dieterlen, 1989
Two Rats by Vincent van Gogh (1884)

Rattus is a genus of muroid rodents, all typically called rats. However, the term rat can also be applied to rodent species outside of this genus.

Species and description[edit]

The best-known Rattus species are the black rat (R. rattus) and the brown rat (R. norvegicus). The group is generally known as the Old World rats or true rats and originated in Asia. Rats are bigger than most Old World mice, which are their relatives, but seldom weigh over 500 grams (1.1 lb) in the wild.

Taxonomy of Rattus[edit]

The genus Rattus is a member of the giant subfamily Murinae. Several other murine genera are sometimes considered part of Rattus: Lenothrix, Anonymomys, Sundamys, Kadarsanomys, Diplothrix, Margaretamys, Lenomys, Komodomys, Palawanomys, Bunomys, Nesoromys, Stenomys, Taeromys, Paruromys, Abditomys, Tryphomys, Limnomys, Tarsomys, Bullimus, Apomys, Millardia, Srilankamys, Niviventer, Maxomys, Leopoldamys, Berylmys, Mastomys, Myomys, Praomys, Hylomyscus, Heimyscus, Stochomys, Dephomys and Aethomys.[citation needed]

The genus Rattus proper contains 64 extant species. A subgeneric breakdown of the species has been proposed, but does not include all species.[2]


Genus Rattus – Typical rats


The following phylogeny of selected Rattus species is from Pagès, et al. (2010).[3]

Fossil species[edit]

In contrast to the large number of living species, as of 2024, just four fossil species have been placed in Rattus proper:[4]

  • Rattus baoshanensis - Late Pliocene China
  • Rattus jaegeri - Late Pliocene to Early Pleistocene Thailand
  • Rattus pristinus - Early Pleistocene China
  • Rattus miyakoensis - Late Pleistocene Japan[5]


  1. ^ "Rattus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 15 November 2021.
  2. ^ Thomson, Vicki; Wiewel, Andrew; Chinen, Aldo; Maryanto, Ibnu; Sinaga, M. H.; How, Ric; Aplin, Ken; Suzuki, Hitoshi (2018). "A perspective for resolving the systematics of Rattus, the vertebrates with the most influence on human welfare". Zootaxa. 4459 (3): 431–452. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.4459.3.2. PMID 30314119. S2CID 52975664.
  3. ^ Pagès, Marie; Chaval, Yannick; Herbreteau, Vincent; Waengsothorn, Surachit; Cosson, Jean-François; Hugot, Jean-Pierre; Morand, Serge; Michaux, Johan (2010). "Revisiting the taxonomy of the Rattini tribe: a phylogeny-based delimitation of species boundaries". BMC Evolutionary Biology. 10 (1): 184. Bibcode:2010BMCEE..10..184P. doi:10.1186/1471-2148-10-184. PMC 2906473. PMID 20565819.
  4. ^ Chang, M.; Zhang, C.; et al. (January 2023). "A new Rattus species and its associated micromammals from the Pliocene Yangyi Formation in Baoshan, Western Yunnan, China". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 43 (1): e2249063. doi:10.1080/02724634.2023.2249063.
  5. ^ Kawaguchi, S.; Kaneko, Y.; Hasegawa, Y. (2009). "A new species of the fossil murine rodent from the Pinza-Abu Cave, the Miyako Island of the Ryukyo Archipelago, Japan". Bulletin of Gunma Museum of Natural History. 13: 15–28. Retrieved 3 March 2024.