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Discover the Quirky World of Rodents: Top 21 Fun Facts About Rats You Won't Believe!

illustration of rats
Get ready to squeak with delight as you scurry through these fascinating and unexpected fun facts about rats!

1. Ticklish Rat Giggles

Who knew rats could be the life of the party, tickling the ivories of laughter: thanks to special microphones, we can actually hear and recognize their ultrasonic giggles when tickled on the back and belly, as it activates their somatosensory cortex and causes "joy jumps" known as Freudensprünge.
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2. Adventurous Rat Buffet

Much like indecisive diners at an all-you-can-eat buffet, rats in unstable environments are just as adventurous when faced with novel dishes: Research on wild Rattus norvegicus in habitats like landfills and farms shows they do not exhibit food neophobia, meaning they'll happily chow down on anything from fresh produce and crops to dog food, embracing new flavors and smells without hesitation.
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3. Rat Secret Language

Who needs Morse code when you've got a rat in your ranks? These furry creatures have a secret language of their own: Rats communicate through an intricate system of vocalizations, body language, and smells, including ultrasonic sounds that are inaudible to human ears, and use urine marking to convey their social status and emotions.
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4. Disease-Detecting Rats

Move over, Sherlock Holmes, there's a new detective in town - with a tail, and a lethal sniffer for a deadly disease: African giant pouched rats are trained to detect tuberculosis in Tanzania and Nairobi with accuracy comparable to standard laboratory methods, identifying 50 samples in two hours, a game-changer for remote areas where testing takes up to 14 days, potentially saving countless lives by diagnosing and treating TB earlier, particularly for those living with HIV.
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Misunderstood Clean Rats

5. Misunderstood Clean Rats

It appears that the "dirty rat" cliche has scurried in the wrong direction! These furry fellows may need a new PR manager, as they've been deeply misunderstood: in truth, rats are surprisingly clean creatures that can even learn to recognize their names, empathize with each other, and recall complex tasks with their tiny, yet astute, cerebrums.
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6. Rat Sitcom Families

Move over, Friends: rats are giving sitcom casts a run for their money when it comes to tight-knit families and hilarious group dynamics. It's all fun and furballs in the rat realm, until someone new enters their territory, that is: rats are remarkably social creatures that live in closely bonded family groups, groom each other, sleep together, and only display aggression toward unfamiliar rats, making them an intriguing species to observe and study.
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7. Wind-Detecting Whiskers

Being whisked away by love is one thing, but whisked away on the wind? Rats are living the dream: Their whiskers can detect changes in wind direction and intensity, allowing them to locate airflow sources and use this mechanical information for survival, food-finding, and expert-level navigation.
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8. Chameleon Rats

Behold the rat, nature's unwitting chameleon, waging an eternal turf war against aerial foes: these furry little fighters can look skyward with one eye while simultaneously scanning the ground with the other, making up for their poor eyesight and colorblindness as they dodge avian assassins.
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9. Rat Reproduction Marathon

Move over, Energizer Bunny: Rats may just have you beat in the reproduction department! These furry love machines can put us all to shame with their remarkable, non-stop baby-making abilities: Female rats can mate up to 500 times in a 6-hour period, leading to litters of up to 22 pups, although the average litter size is around 8 or 9. Meanwhile, their tropical counterparts tend to have one to six pups at once and prioritize nest-building before giving birth in cozy crevices, rotting trees, or buildings.
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Rat Party Tricks & Cliques

10. Rat Party Tricks & Cliques

Whoever said "3's a crowd" never met a rat: A band of these whiskered bandits is actually called a mischief, and their social antics include forming cliques, chatting in a frequency only dogs can pick up, and even dabbling in the circus arts with an uncanny ability to learn tricks. But beware, their party-crasher tendencies may turn your home into a fixer-upper by gnawing through walls, though allying yourselves with the plant and oil guardians around can fend off these furry ravagers.
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11. Rat Sniffer Detectives

Move over, Sherlock Holmes: these sniffing sleuths have powered their way into explosive detection, drug busts, and even survivor rescues with their jaw-dropping feats of olfactory might. Rats boast a remarkable sense of smell and powerful jaws that exert up to 6,000 lbs of force per square inch, making them capable of chewing through nearly any material, except solid concrete, stone, and hard metals like steel.
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12. Acrobatic Rat Jumps

Behold the rat-lete, acrobat of the rodent Olympics, stirring awe amidst attics and sewers as they make a leap for pest prowess: The rat, with its extraordinary jumping abilities, can spring vertically up to 3 feet and fly horizontally for an impressive 4 feet using its sturdy hind legs, relying on a head-bobbing technique to overcome its feeble eyesight and land gracefully on its front paws.
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13. Heavyweight Woolly Rat

Roll out the red carpet for a Ratzilla-sized debut: The Bosavi woolly rat, weighing in at a whopping 3.5 pounds, is the heavyweight champ of the rat world, found exclusively in the remote rainforest of an extinct volcanic crater in Papua New Guinea, rocking a stylish woolly fur and munching on veggies while building cozy underground nests beneath rocks and tree roots.
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14. Rat's Multidirectional Eyes

While Spider-Man's got nothing on these beady-eyed acrobats, Peter Parker could definitely use a tip or two from our furry friends: Rats boast an astonishing 180-degree field of vision and can even move their eyes independently, expertly navigating through the shadows, and finding their way in total darkness.
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Squeaky Clean Grooming Rats

15. Squeaky Clean Grooming Rats

Move over, feline friends: the Ratcliffe Herd is here to take the grooming crown! Rats give a whole new meaning to "squeaky clean": It turns out that they groom themselves more frequently than cats, spending a significant portion of their day maintaining their fur and skin, and even distributing oils throughout their fur for a shiny finish. A lack of grooming for these furry masters of cleanliness can indicate potential illness, making their meticulous habits essential for thriving in their whiskered world.
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16. Toilet-Surviving Rats

Flush away any misconceptions of Ratatouille's culinary prowess – these little critters' real superpower lies in their toilet escapades: Rats can hold their breath for up to four minutes, enabling them to survive being flushed down a toilet, while their flexible skeletons, climbing, jumping, and swimming abilities allow them to navigate and squeeze through spaces as narrow as a quarter.
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17. Maze-Navigating Blind Rats

Step aside, Captain Jack Sparrow – the rat version has arrived, equipped with their very own brain-wired compass: Blind rats have successfully navigated complex mazes using a prosthetic compass and microchip connected to their brains, clearly highlighting their adaptability and capability to develop an internal map from an unfamiliar sense. This fascinating revelation could pave the way for advancements in sensory-enhancing tools for humans as well.
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18. Rat Movie Stars and CGI

When Hollywood producers are eager to put their best "rat" forward, their furry friends end up stealing the limelight: Shockingly, though movies like "The Great Mouse Detective," "The Rescuers," and "Stuart Little" feature rodents as fan-favorite characters, none of the rats employed have been live action stars, relying instead on animatronics or CGI to bring the whiskered wonders to life.
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19. Mating Dance of Rats

Move over, Saturday Night Fever, rats have their own dance floor moves: Female rats perform a "mating dance" that includes stroking their back, darting forward, and vibrating their ears when they're ready to mate, and male rats determine their readiness through physical examination and smelling - although sometimes their hormones get the better of them, leading to mounting without actual intercourse.
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20. Hairless Rat Pup Transformations

They may enter the world looking like a hairless mole in an identity crisis, but their childhood transformation could put any superhero origin story to shame: Rat pups are born blind, deaf, and hairless, relying on their momma and nest for protection and nourishment until they become fully matured between three to five months old.
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21. Lunar New Year Rat Fashion

Ingenious rodents of the fashion world have scurried into the lenses of high-end designers, yielding a posh alliance to dress our way into the Lunar New Year: Brands like Gucci, Off-White, Etro, Rag & Bone, Moschino, Ugg, Dior, and Nike have released limited edition collections inspired by the Chinese zodiac's Year of the Rat, sweeping with stylish designs and fine critter motifs.
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