• Brit
  • September 22, 2022

When it comes to wild rats vs pet rats one thing you need to know is that although they have the same eating habits and body structures, their behavior and lifestyle is totally different.

Almost every domestic rat you see today are descendants of wild Norwegian rats (Rattus norvegicus). They were first bred in the 20th century and then spawned generations of lovable pets.

Wild Rats vs Pet Rats

They might look similar but make no mistake, there are some visual differences, and behavior differences (especially around humans).

  • Social Behavior

Wild rats aren’t social rodents and will run away from any human they encounter if they can. These rat type can and will come into the presence of humans if they sense food close.

Plus, rats that are wild will only meet other rats so they can mate. When cornered, wild rats become super hostile and will fight their way out with their teeth.

Pet rats on the other hand, are friendly toward humans and other domesticated rats. But, there had been some unfortunate events reported by rat owners who say their rat bit them (out of fear or threat).

  • Size

In the wild, rats would grow to lengths between 11 to 12 inches. Plus, many rats in the wild do not live long enough to reach their full growing potential.

Many wild rats stop growing at 9-10 inches. Additionally, wild rats are more thin, muscular and flexible than domesticated rats since they do not rely on humans to survive.

The only period wild rats would appear large is if they are puffing up their fur (to make them look bigger to predators). Domesticated rats are also heavier than wild rats and not as lean.

The reason behind this is lack of exercise the rats get in their controlled environments. Pet rats can grow to 11-12 inches since they have a longer span.

READ ALSO: Can Rats with Red Eyes See Well?

Wild Rats vs Pet Rats

  • Coloring

The coats of domesticated rats range in various color. A lot of pet rats are brown, but others are beige, gray, black, and tan. The different fur colors of pet rats are because many breeders cross-breed.

One widely owned rat is the pink-eyed white rat, that has been commonly bred since the 19th century.

In the wild, many rats possess the same colored fur. Black and brown are the two most common colors for wild rats. Many brown rats possess white or light brown fur on their underbellies.

ALSO SEE: How Long Can Rats Survive without Water

  • Adaptation

Adapting to an environment of captivity is hard on wild rats. Because they lack hiding places, and are continuously exposed to bright lights, wild rats become frantic.

About 89% of time, wild rats die early or become overstressed that their reproductive organ fails. If they do manages to mate and breed, wild rat litters are commonly smaller during their first generation of captivity.

It is only after 20 generations in captivity that rat litters develop normally. If your pet rat manages to get back into the wild, it will struggle to adapt. It lacks the physical stamina and behavioral skills needed for wild rats to survive out there.

If pet rats do manage to survive in the wild, it is generally under human-controlled circumstances.


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