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"At the end of the 11th century the town Hamelin was plagued with rats, of whose audacity Robert Browning gives a very amusing description."--Sholem Stein tells the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin.

"It is a curious fact that long before there could have been any knowledge concerning the dangerous character of rodents as carriers of disease, mankind dreaded and pursued these animals. Sticker has collected a great many references to this subject from ancient and mediaeval literature, and has found much evidence in the folklore of mediaeval Europe which points to the vague recognition of some connection between plague and rats."--Rats, Lice and History (1935) by Hans Zinsser

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Rats are various medium-sized, long-tailed rodents of the superfamily Muroidea. "True rats" are members of the genus Rattus, the most important of which to humans are the black rat, Rattus rattus, and the brown rat, Rattus norvegicus. Many members of other rodent genera and families are also referred to as rats, and share many characteristics with true rats.

As subjects for scientific research

Laboratory rat

In 1895, Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts (United States) established a population of domestic albino brown rats to study the effects of diet and for other physiological studies. Over the years, rats have been used in many experimental studies, which have added to our understanding of genetics, diseases, the effects of drugs, and other topics that have provided a great benefit for the health and well-being of humankind. Laboratory rats have also proved valuable in psychological studies of learning and other mental processes (Barnett, 2002), as well as to understand group behavior and overcrowding (with the work of John B. Calhoun on behavioral sink). A 2007 study found rats to possess metacognition, a mental ability previously only documented in humans and some primates.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Rat" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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