[AS. rat.] A gnawing or rodent animal like the mouse, but larger and more destructive. It has sharp chisel-shaped teeth, with which it gnaws holes through wood-work, and with its claws it burrows under floors. It can climb trees, and descend headforemost by means of its claws, which are hooked, and turn inward or outward. Rats are not easily caught, because they are so cunning and have so keen a scent that they will not go near a trap set by a person with bare hands. They eat both animal and vegetable food, and are found in fields, in woods, in the water, in houses, in barns, and in sewers. They cross the sea in ships, and have followed man over the world. They are a pest to the farmer, and destroy grain, steal eggs, and kill young poultry of the farm-yard. The rat increases in swarms, often alarmingly. But the cat, the dog, the ferret, the weasel, the hawk, and the owl all prey upon rats and keep down their numbers. They are fierce and dangerous and bite viciously. The common brown rat, or Norway rat, is about 10 inches long, and has a tail of about 8 inches, a pointed nose, and whiskers like a cat. Its fur is light brown above and dirty white beneath, and its feet are flesh-colored. The black rat is smaller and weaker. Water-rats are almost as large as brown rats, but are harmless, feeding on vegetable food, and making their holes in the banks of rivers, ditches, and ponds. Gloves are often made of rat-skin, and the fur is used for covering hats. In China the flesh of the rat is regarded as a delicacy. The squirrel-tailed wood-rat of the Rocky Mountains builds a great nest of sticks and brush in a tree or clump of shrubs.