How was the brown rat introduced? The History of the Brown Rat

  • MickAdmin
  • February 23, 2023

Have you ever wondered how the brown rat came to be? Where did it come from, and when did it first appear? Today we will explore these questions as we uncover the history and origins of the brown rat.


How was the brown rat introduced?


1. The brown rat, Rattus norvegicus, is believed to have been introduced to the British Isles in the mid-18th century.

This rodent species was likely brought to Great Britain on merchant and naval ships from northern Germany or central Russia.

They were most likely attracted to ports by food availability and soon spread rapidly across the island. The rapid proliferation of this rodent species in urban areas gave rise to its commonly used name; the common or brown rat.


2. The brown rat, also known as the common or Norway rat, is believed to have originated in northern China over 250 years ago before spreading out into other parts of Europe and eventually making its way to North America in 1775.

It is thought that the rats entered North America on ships traveling across the Atlantic Ocean.

As these ships made their way back and forth between Europe and North America, they carried rats for food and other stowaways.


3. The brown rat has become common in urban areas worldwide.

It is an incredibly adaptable species that can thrive in various climates and environments.

More than 4 million rats are estimated to live in New York City alone.

This adaptability allows them to survive in natural habitats and human-made structures like homes, sewers, and buildings.


4. The brown rat is an incredible survivor; it can go several days without food or water and even survive underwater for up to half an hour.

Its diet consists mainly of grains, fruits, and vegetables but can also include small animals like mice or insects if necessary.

They are social animals living together in large groups called colonies, making them easier to control with rodent control methods such as traps or poison bait boxes.




The brown rat has been a part of human history for centuries now – although not always welcome – but they continue to thrive despite our efforts to eradicate them due to their impressive adaptability and resilience.

Understanding their origin story helps us better understand how they’ve been able to thrive so successfully despite our attempts at eradication. With this knowledge comes a greater understanding of managing them humanely while maintaining safety for ourselves and our property.

So next time you pass by a group of brown rats, remember that they may have come from halfway around the world centuries ago.

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