How long do rats live?

Rats lifespan

When we think about rats, we often tend to think about the animated version of these tiny animals on the animated movie Ratatouille instead of the real, living mammal that live very close to us.

Today, we’re going to take a different look at these tiny rodents, but not to talk about how they look or discuss how clean they are, but to talk about how long do rats live in the wild, and in captivity.

How long do rats live?

Rats are one of the few rodents that have a somewhat short life expectancy, specially when compared to other  animals.

Believe it or not, rats can expect to live an approximate of 2 years tops, although there are some types of rats who will barely make it to the 12 months mark.

The thing is, since there are so many of them, and they can reproduce so quickly, it’s common for humans to believe they have a long life, but in reality, they have a very short lifespan.

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How long do rats live in the wild?

Like we said before, rats tend to live anywhere from 1 to 2 years in the wild. Although some rats have actually lived past the 2 years mark, this is not common for them.

There’s a reason why rats have a somewhat short and quick lifespan, and it’s because of their natural lifestyle. You see, rats are tiny animals that are constantly being threatened by their predators.

Rats natural predators are too many to mention, but just to give you an idea: rats are threatened by dogs, catssnakes, big mammals and even humans (we kill them to protect ourselves, not to actually eat them or benefit from them in any way).

There’s also the fact rats tend to live in some not-optimal conditions, often living in sewers, dark and dangerous places, which of course, reduces their lifespan.

How long do rats live in captivity?

Like we said before, rats are not known for their longevity, however, they do tend to live for a much longer time whenever they are raised and live their whole life in captivity.

You see, rats are common animals to be living in captivity since they are often used for scientific experiments, but also, because they are really affectional and smart animals and people have them as pets.

When living in these conditions, rats can easily live up to their 2 years mark and even surpass it, since they are properly being taken care of, and don’t have to worry about natural predators.

Life expectancy of rats according to the species

Black rat

  • In the wild: 18 months.
  • In captivity: 2-3 years.

Brown rat

  • In the wild: 12 months.
  • In captivity: 2-3 years.

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