City Rats

Some wild animals stalk the perimeter of our communities, while others flourish in the chaos of our most populated cities. And one of the most common urban animals is the rat, an intelligent creature that lurks in our shadows.

There are over fifty species of rat, but two types – black and brown – most commonly thrive in urban environments. These problem-solving, adaptable rodents are incredibly athletic and will deliver a painful bite when threatened. And when rats are host to as many as 60 diseases – like typhus, meningitis and rat bite fever – their presence goes beyond urban nuisance to human health hazard.

While it’s not confirmed where these pesky rats originally came from, they likely hail from Asia. It’s believed that they migrated across the globe with human movements, and they now occupy every continent – including Antarctica. 

City rats are on a constant quest for food, and they’ve adapted to act as urban garbage disposals. Their sharp, constantly-growing teeth can tear through pipes, blocks and cables, and these critters will eat everything from dead animals to leather to feces for a meal.

Learn more about how rats and other creatures are taking over our cities on Deadly Dozen: Urban Jungle tonight at 9 pm et/pt on Nat Geo WILD!

Video preview: The rat — the city-dwelling mammal we love to hate.