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The brown rat is nocturnal and is a good swimmer, both on the surface and underwater, and has been observed climbing slim round metal poles several feet in order to reach garden bird feeders.
Brown rats dig well, and often excavate extensive burrow systems.
Exceptionally large individuals can reportedly reach 900 to 1,000 g (32 to 35 oz) but are not expected outside of domestic specimens.
Stories of rats attaining sizes as big as cats are exaggerations, or misidentifications of larger rodents, such as the coypu and muskrat.
The brown rat (Rattus norvegicus), also known as the common rat, street rat, sewer rat, Hanover rat, Norway rat, Norwegian rat, Parisian rat or wharf rat, is one of the best known and most common rats.
The vision of a pigmented rat is poor, around 20/600, while a non-pigmented (albino) with no melanin in its eyes has both around 20/1200 vision and a terrible scattering of light within its vision.The fur is coarse and usually brown or dark grey, while the underparts are lighter grey or brown.The brown rat is a rather large murid and can weigh twice as much as a black rat (Rattus rattus) and many times more than a house mouse (Mus musculus).In research studies, the chirping is associated with positive emotional feelings, and social bonding occurs with the tickler, resulting in the rats becoming conditioned to seek the tickling.However, as the rats age, the tendency to chirp appears to decline.
Brown rats also produce communicative noises capable of being heard by humans.