Species Of The Week Number 4: Brown Rat

OK so this one is a challenge! Rats sit alongside mosquitos, vampire bats and bed bugs as species in serious need of some better PR. Their cousin the Black Rat may well have carried the fleas which carried the Bubonic Plague, but... they also have plenty of interesting characteristics that might make you warm to them a little more. Just maybe?

For instance, research suggests that they can produce ultrasonic vocalisations and this is particularly noticeable when the young engage in play, or indeed when they are tickled. So happy laughing creatures then. We are trying to get hold of bat detectors for the Bioblitz (little machines which allow you to identify bats from their ultrasonic calls) - they should also enable us to listen to rats. If we want to. They also are very sociable and live in family groups, regularly grooming each other. Are you convinced of their cuteness yet?

Rats are hugely adaptable and present in every continent except Antarctica. Mostly they expanded their range from China by stowing away in ships. They arrived in the UK around 1700, researchers think.

Whatever you think of them they are just one of the 170+ species so far identified as part of our Bioblitz survey in the valley.

In other news...a species you can perhaps warm to a bit more are our rare White-clawed Crayfish which will no doubt be subject of a later 'Species of the Week'. Meanwood Beck is one of their few remaining strongholds. They were covered in a great piece on the BBC's Autumn watch this week. Check it out here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m001dk37/autumnwatch-2022-episode-2 The Crayfish section starts at about 47 minutes in.

Posted by clunym clunym, October 28, 2022 08:51 AM

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