A Pair of Rats Could Produce Half A Billion Descendants In Three Years

A Pair of Rats Could Produce Half A Billion Descendants In Three Years

In its interactive project, “The Rise of The Rats,” Rentokil revealed how a pair of rats could produce nearly half a billion descendants in just three years.

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March 28, 2017

In its interactive project, “The Rise of The Rats,” Rentokil revealed how a pair of rats could produce nearly half a billion descendants in just three years. The project visualizes the rapid rate at which rats reproduce, and warns how quickly a rat infestation can spiral out of control.

From 2015 to 2016, JC Ehrlich, a Rentokil North American division brand, saw an 86% increase in the number of rat-related callouts. This trend was mirrored in cities around the world, with Paris closing nine parks and green spaces as part of an anti-rat campaign.

“The Rise of The Rats” explains the breeding cycle of a brown rat living in an ideal environment. A female rat typically births six litters a year consisting of 12 rat pups, although 5-10 pups is more common. Rats reach sexual maturity after 4-5 weeks, meaning that a population can swell from two rats to around 1,250 in one year, with the potential to grow exponentially. Additionally brown rats:

  • have a 21- to 23-day gestation period.
  • have 5-10 rat pups per litter.
  • produce 3-6 litters in a lifetime.
  • live an average of one year.

"If we were to do nothing, we would be overrun by rats. Their breeding strategy is very different to that of humans. It is characterized by quantity over quality. They produce very large numbers of offspring on the basis that at least some will survive long enough to produce their own litters,” said Rentokil Initial General Technical Manager, Science and Service Andy Brigham.

"If there is sufficient space and food they have the potential to rapidly explode in numbers to exploit that,” he added. “But mortality is high whenever food or space is limited, and factors such as disease, starvation, predation, and our own pest control efforts help to keep the rate of growth in check."

For more information, see: http://www.rentokil.com/rise-of-the-rats.