Rattus_norvegicus AnAge entry for Rattus norvegicus

Classification (HAGRID: 03083)

Kingdom: Animalia
    Phylum: Chordata
        Class: Mammalia (Taxon entry)
            Order: Rodentia
                Family: Muridae
                    Genus: Rattus
Rattus norvegicus
Common name
Norway rat
Mus caraco, Mus caspius, Mus decumanoides, Mus decumanus, Mus griseipectus, Mus hibernicus, Mus humiliatus, Mus javanus, Mus magnirostris, Mus maniculatus, Mus maurus, Mus ouangthomae, Mus plumbeus, Mus surmolottus, Rattus norvegicus albus, Mus sylvaticus discolor, Mus decumanus hybridus, Rattus humiliatus insolatus, Mus decumanus major, Rattus norvegicus otomoi, Mus norvegicus praestans, Rattus norvegicus primarius, Epimys norvegicus socer, Rattus humiliatus sowerbyi

Lifespan, ageing, and relevant traits

0.3 years
Maximum longevity
3.8 years (captivity)
ref. 857
Sample size
Data quality

This common laboratory animal and pet is one of the fastest ageing mammals. In the wild, rats experience a high mortality and rarely live more than 1 year, though in exceptional cases they can live up to 3 years [0851]. Even in captivity, most animals do not normally live more than 3 years. There is some controversy, however, regarding the maximum longevity of this species in captivity. There are reports that rats can live up to 5-6 years [0002], though these have not been verified. A maximum longevity of 4.2 years has also been cited [0001], but this is likely a results of confusion with another rat species (/Rattus rattus/) [0434]. Arguably the most accurate data comes from one large study with thousands of animals in which maximum longevity was 3.8 years, though one female under caloric restriction lived 4.6 years [0857]. Caloric restriction not only extends lifespan but appears to delay ageing in this species [0707], including demographic ageing [0858].

Like in laboratory mice (/Mus musculus/), the major cause of death in rats is cancer, though there is variation between strains. Various degenerative conditions have been observed in aged rats, including several kidney diseases [0981].

Telomere length has been observed to decrease with age in these animals [1342].

Life history traits (averages)

Female sexual maturity
90 days
Male sexual maturity
70 days
21 days
Litter size
9.9 (viviparous)
Litters per year
Inter-litter interval
Weight at birth
5.81 g
Weight at weaning
Adult weight
300 g
Postnatal growth rate
Maximum longevity residual


Typical body temperature
310ºK or 37.1ºC or 98.8ºF
Basal metabolic rate
1.4040 W
Body mass
206.9 g
Metabolic rate per body mass
0.006786 W/g


External Resources

Integrated Taxonomic Information System
ITIS 180363
Animal Diversity Web
ADW account (if available)
Encyclopaedia of Life
Search EOL
NCBI Taxonomy
Taxonomy ID 10116
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Ageing Literature
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Google Image search
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