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Great Britain

Set B5 - British Wild Life - card information

24. The Black or Old English Rat
(Rattus rattus)

24. The Black or Old English Rat

Rats are of Asiatic origin and came to Western Europe comparatively recently. The black rat, which may be grey or fawn as well as black, arrived about the time of the Crusades. It is a mouse-like animal of lighter build than the brown rat. It is very active and easily invaded the old wooden houses, where being susceptible to the dreaded bubonic plague, it was, by means of its fleas, an agent in the spread of the disease. In early Georgian days the brown rat came and ousted the black, but the latter is still to be found in many parts and frequently on ships.