The brown rat (Rattus norvegicus), also known as the common rat, street rat, sewer rat, Hanover rat, Norway rat, Norwegian rat, Parisian rat, water rat, or wharf rat, is one of the best known and most common rats. One of the largest muroids, it is a brown or grey rodent with a head and body length of up to 28 cm (11 in) long, and a tail slightly shorter than that. It weighs between 140 and 500 g (4.9 and 17.6 oz).

The brown rat can breed throughout the year if conditions are suitable, with a female producing up to five litters a year. The gestation period is only 21 days, and litters can number up to 14, although seven is common. They reach sexual maturity in about five weeks. Under ideal conditions (for the rat), this means that the population of females could increase by a factor of three and a half (half a litter of 7) in 8 weeks (5 weeks for sexual maturity and 3 weeks of gestation), corresponding to a population growing by a factor of 10 in just 15 weeks. As a result, the population can grow from 2 to 15,000 in a year. The maximum life span is three years, although most barely manage one. A yearly mortality rate of 95% is estimated, with predators and interspecies conflict as major causes.

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