Black rats are generalist omnivores and thus not very specific in their food preferences, they feed on a wide range of foods, including seeds, fruit, stems, leaves, fungi, and a variety of invertebrates and vertebrates. Which makes them a kind of pest in nature (hmm, a lot in common with humans). They are vectors of many diseases including the bacterium Yersinia pestis, an agent of bubonic plague, (which I suspect is just another attempt to blame every mysterious disaster on an animal — the speed of propagation of the desease, as well as its geographic distribution raise doubts about the rodent’s role in the epidemics more likely caused, among other things, by the destruction of European forests, mini glaciation in the Middle Ages, overpopulation and consequent famine, and lack of hygiene).
Like tree squirrels rats prefer fruits and nuts. They are a threat to many natural habitats because they feed on birds and insects. They are also a threat to many farmers since they feed on a variety of agricultural-based crops, such as cereals, sugar cane, coconuts, cocoa, oranges, and coffee beans. The black rat is again largely confined to warmer areas, having been supplanted by the brown rat (Rattus norvegicus) in cooler regions and urban areas. In addition to being larger and more aggressive (I’ve seen big fat brown rats feed with chicken and porks at the same trough and chase cats), the change from wooden structures and thatched roofs to bricked and tiled buildings favored the burrowing brown rats over the arboreal black rats. In addition, brown rats eat a wider variety of foods, and are more resistant to weather extremes
Black rats adapt to a wide range of habitats. In urban areas they are found around warehouses, residential buildings, and other human settlements, especially in dry upper levels of buildings, so they are commonly found in wall cavities and false ceilings.. In agricultural areas they live in barns and crop fields. In the wild, black rats live in cliffs, rocks, the ground, and trees. They are great climbers and prefer to live in trees, such as pines and palm trees. We often see them in the neighbourhood walk up and down the trees and scutter along the power lines that serve as suspension bridges. Their nests are typically spherical and made of shredded material, including sticks, leaves, other vegetation, and cloth. In the absence of trees, they can burrow into the ground. Black rats are also found around fences, ponds, riverbanks, streams, and reservoirs.
|Black rat (Rattus rattus). (by-nc-nd)|