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Brown rat

Description: Mount of captive-bred Brown Rat (Rattus norvegicus) from Witton Park Visitor Centre, Blackburn, Lancashire, provided on request from taxidermist. Acquired for the Natural History Gallery displays at the Manx Museum.

According to Manx superstition, it is bad luck to attract the unwelcome attentions of rats by calling them by that name, so many people in the Isle of Man refer to rats as 'longtails', 'ringies' or 'joeys'.

In the maritime tradition it was bad news if rats began to leave a ship, since it signalled that something was seriously amiss. This was certainly the case when a ship, wrecked off the south west coast of the Isle of Man between 1760 and 1780, disgorged its rats onto the little island of the Calf of Man. The rats multiplied, feeding on the defenceless ground nesting birds, their eggs and young, reputedly causing the collapse of the Manx Shearwater colony and ending the profitable annual harvest of young birds for their flesh and oil.

Nowadays, the Brown Rat, which long ago replaced the Black Rat in the Isle of Man, is found everywhere that it can scratch a living, from the shoreline to the hill-tops.

Taxonomic name: Rattus norvegicus

Collection: Natural History Zoology Collection

ID number: 2001-0051


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