E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Wildlife of British Columbia

Rattus rattus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Alexandrine Rat; Black Rat; English Rat; Roof Rat; Ship Rat
Family: Muridae
Photo of species

© John Baillie  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #379)

E-Fauna BC Static Map
Distribution of Rattus rattus in British Columbia
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The Black Rat is one of two species of rats found in British Columbia, both introduced and considered invasive. Despite its name, the Black Rat has several colour forms: it may be black to light grey-brown in colour with a lighter morph that ranges from slate grey to white (Nagorsen 2005). It has a slender body and large hairless ears and a noticeably long tail that is longer than the head and body combined. Its smaller size and the long tail separate it from the Norway Rat.

The Black Rat is found in Canada primarily in agricultural and urban areas (Nagorsen 2005. Its exact date of arrival in BC is unknown, although the earliest collections from the province were by Lord in 1858 (Nagorsen 2005). However, it is now reported from greater Vancouver, the lower Fraser Valley, the Queen Charlotte Islands, Vancouver Island and Cortes Island (but is absent from other islands adjacent to Vancouver Island). Although initially found primarily around dumps and waterfront areas, "on southern Vancouver Island and in North Vancouver it is found in forested habitats well away from human dwellings" (Nagorsen 2005). Nagorsen (2005) reports this species is less common than BC's other species of rat--the Norway Rat (Rattus norvegicus).

Historical Note:

In their 1958 publication Alien Animals of British Columbia, Carl and Guiguet summarize the species occurrence in BC at that time: "This species apparently arrived later than the Norway Rat (dates unknown), but it cannot compete with that species where it comes in contact. It is less common than the Norway Rat in most areas of the province, but it is well-established on the Queen Charlotte Islands and the mountains adjacent to Vancouver..."

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
ExoticSNAExoticNot Listed
BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Additional Range and Status Information Links

Additional Photo Sources

Species References

Carl, G. Clifford and C. J. Guiguet. 1958. Alien Animals in British Columbia. British Columbia Provincial Museum, Department of Education, Handbook No. 14. Victoria, BC.

Nagorsen, David W. 2005. Rodents and Lagomorphs of British Columbia. Royal BC Museum Handbook. Royal BC Museum, Victoria.

General References

Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2021. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [efauna.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 2023-09-24 11:12:12 AM]
Disclaimer: The information contained in an E-Fauna BC atlas pages is derived from expert sources as cited (with permission) in each section. This information is scientifically based.  E-Fauna BC also acts as a portal to other sites via deep links.  As always, users should refer to the original sources for complete information.  E-Fauna BC is not responsible for the accuracy or completeness of the original information.

© E-Fauna BC 2021: An initiative of the Spatial Data Lab, Department of Geography, UBC