The only creature feared by David Attenborough is the rat, and for good reason: it was the black rat that brought us the great plague. But the rats we see in the UK today are larger and more aggressive than those - they are brown rats. They came here in the 18th century in cargo ships and within 20 years had overpowered the black rat and taken control. They have plenty of faults - they carry diseases, they raid birds nests and eat their eggs, they can even damage property by biting through wiring and other household objects. However, they do have a good side. In spite of being pretty uncouth characters, they are very intelligent creatures that you can train to do complex tasks. They are fastidious parents with a breeding potential of 12 pups every four weeks. The mother rat can even tell each pup apart by detecting its scent. Some people even keep them rats as pets. It's this sense of smell that leads rats into all sorts of trouble and drives them into our homes in search of food. These little creatures may be just as cute as any other small mammal to many, but they are still our number one most disliked UK animal.
Available since: Thu 6 May 2010
- Bill Oddie
- Mark Jones
- Executive Producer
- Tim Scoones
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