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The Brown Rat (An Francach Donn ) There are two species of rat found in Ireland, the most widespread being the brown rat. The black rat is found usually where you have people and is to be found in every county in Ireland and on many off shore islands. Its scientific name is  rattus norvegicus, which is Latin, which the Romans used. The Romans never came to Ireland. It originally invaded Britain and Ireland from timber boats from Norway, probably in the first half of the 18th century. Over the years, since then it has virtually replaced the smaller black rat which was the common rat up to that time. The black rat, which first came to Ireland aboard ships in the middle ages, is now rare  here. A black melanistic form of the brown rat is often mistaken for it and, therefore, reported discoveries are critically examined by scientists. There are reliable indications, however, of the presence of the black rat at Lurgan, County Armagh, Tyrella, County  Down,and on Lambay island, County Dublin. 

The brown rat is larger and stronger than the black rat. It has a rather blunt muzzle and lighter brown fur and a shorter and stouter tail than its rival. The black rat has a slimmer appearance and is more agile than the brown rat. Its colour varies from grey black to brown. The brown rat is closely associated with human habitation and is to be found in industrial and commercial buildings, in sewers and in and around farms. In the spring it moves out in to fields and banks of rivers and canals where it burrows. It is a good digger and jumps and swims well.   

Eoin Flynn