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The brown rat, common rat, sewer rat, Hanover rat, Norway rat, Brown Norway rat, Norwegian rat, or wharf rat (Rattus norvegicus) is one of the best known and most common rats. One of the largest muroids, it is a brown or grey rodent with a body up to 25 cm (10 in) long, and a similar tail length; the male weighs on average 350 g (12 oz) and the female 250 g (9 oz). The fur is coarse and usually brown or dark grey, while the underparts are lighter grey or brown. The length can be up to 25 cm (10 in), with the tail a further 25 cm (10 in), the same length as the body. Thought to have originated in northern China, this rodent has now spread to all continents, except Antarctica, and is the dominant rat in Europe and much of North America—making it the most successful mammal on the planet after humans. Indeed, with rare exceptions the brown rat lives wherever humans live, particularly in urban areas. The Brown Rat is usually active at night and is a good swimmer, both on the surface and underwater, but unlike the related Black rat (Rattus rattus) they are poor climbers. Brown rats dig well, and often excavate extensive burrow systems. A 2007 study found brown rats to possess metacognition, a mental ability previously only found in humans and some primates. The brown rat is a true omnivore and will consume almost anything, but cereals form a substantial part of its diet Adult body weight averages 350 g (12 oz) in males and about 250 g (9 oz) in females, but a very large individual can reach 500 g (18 oz). Rats weighing over 1 kg (2.2 lb) are exceptional, and stories of rats as big as cats are exaggerations, or misidentifications of other rodents such as the coypu and muskrat.
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