Can rats swim? Do they drown?

How does one explain a rat in the toilet? Well either it came from up or from down, either way as long as it is still alive, there is only one answer to that, a rat can swim, and they are excellent at it for that matter.

Adaptations of rats to swimming

• Rats have been proven to be able to swim long distances or just float in water for up three straight days. This explains why a rat can be found in a toilet that is miles away from the sewerage system.
• When underwater, how do they breathe? Rats can hold their breath for up to three minutes. Three minutes is long enough time for these tiny animals to have figured out or found some opening to catch their breath, i.e. if it is an enclosed area. For open water areas, the rats will swim with their heads floating on the water surface so as to breath.
• The sewerage systems are made of tunnels ranging from the very large ones to very tiny ones close to the toilet. While swimming through these regions, rats are able to squeeze their spine hence collapsing the ribs to fit through a passage as small as a ten cent coin. This is possible because their ribs have been structured in a way that they are hinged at the spine and they give in to pressure.
• Apart from being able to squeeze the spine, the flexibility of the spine also makes them able to easily twist and manoeuvre through sharp tight corners with no problem. The hinged ribs to the spine put them at this advantage since as the spine squeezes and bends so are the ribs collapsed and shifted in shape.
• Their sharp claws help them not only up and down across any surface, whether smooth or rough surfaces, but also vertically. They also help in wading through water hence swim gracefully.
• Another physical structure that aids the rats to swim gracefully without drowning is the legs. Each pair of legs works differently with coordinated movements. The hind legs are used to paddle while the front ones steer making their swimming effortless. The tail acts as radar to give them the sense of direction and balance while regulating their speed.
• Their light-weight makes it easy to float on water while swimming without drowning.
• Apart from the physical adaptation, it is believed that rat’s psychological state also matters when it comes to swimming. When in not in stress, rats will swim without any problem but if they are stressed out, they can easily drown. So, yes rats can also drown in water.

Read the How to get rid of rats page for helpful information and to learn more about Can rats swim? Do they drown?

Can rats swim? Do they drown?

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