This post may contain affiliate links so I earn a commission.
How long do rats live?
In order to answer this question it's important to understand there's a difference between wild rats found in nature and the pet rats found in your local pet store.
There are two species of wild rats, the Norway Rat (Rattus Norvegicus) and the Roof Rat (Rattus Rattus).
Pet rats or "laboratory rats" are called Fancy Rats.
They're actually a domesticated Norway Rat and are not part of the Rattus family.
Fancy Rats have been bread since the 18th and 19th century when rat-catchers trapped rats throughout Europe.
Now, many years later Fancy Rats are much different than wild rats.
Temperament, coloration and overall personality makes a Fancy Rat comparable to other pets such as hamsters or guinea pigs......just smarter!
Before we compare the average lifespan of a wild rat vs a Fancy Rat, let's compare the two a little closer to learn what factors and characteristics can determine how long a rat will actually live.
There are two species of wild rats.
The Norway Rat, also called the brown rat, and the Roof Rat which is also known as the black rat.
On average, wild rats live for about 1 - 2 years.
Why is the life of a wild rat so difficult?
Rats have a lot of natural predators such as owls, hawks, fox and coyotes just to name a few.
Plus, wild rats are susceptible to various diseases and they are on a constant mission to find food, water and shelter.
These reasons make it easy to understand why rats love to invade our home and quickly become a nuisance.
The average home makes the perfect nesting spot for a wild rat.
Our homes offer protection from predators, a warm and cozy place to nest, and usually contains an unlimited food source.
Fancy rats are available in many different colors.
While wild rats are typically either black or brown, Fancy Rats can be white, cinnamon, multi-colored or even have a blue hue.
Their coloration is not the only thing that separates them from their wild counterpart.
Fancy Rats are much more comfortable around humans and actually make very good pets.
They are smart, adapt well to change and you can take them just about anywhere.
Fancy Rats have a longer lifespan than wild rats.
On average, a Fancy Rat will live between 2-3 years with some exceptions up to 4 years.
A lack of natural predators, constant food and water and the access to medial care all play a part in their increased lifespan.
By the age of 4 most Fancy Rats develop joint problems, tumors or other issues that contribute to their death.
When asking the question "How long do rats live?" it's important to understand the physical and environmental differences between wild rats and pet rats.
Although both rats have a pretty short life span compared to dogs or cats, a pet rat can make a great companion, or on the flip side a wild rat can be a great nuisance depending on your perspective.