Species: Rat Other Names: N/A Ancestral Species: The most likely antecedent is the brown rat (Rattus norvegicus), particularly the Sprague-Dawley laboratory strain, although other strains and even the black rat (R. rattus) may have contributed to some populations of rats. Original Purpose: Wide range laboratory animal Habitat: Many rats live in laboratories, conservatories, and berthing areas. However, they are quite adaptable and may be found in a range of habitats as long as the ambient temperature and local food supply can support their numbers. Physical Description: General appearance is very similar to the brown rat. Vesperian rats tend to be larger (1-5 pounds) and less sexually dimorphic than their ancestors. Rats may be found in an array of colours and physical varieties, although some very isolated or xenophobic colonies may exhibit limited physical diversity (e.g., a laboratory composed entirely of albino rats). Frequency: Common Diet: Rats are true omnivores and are willing to consume almost anything they can find, from meat to eggs to vegetables to algae. Intelligence: Sapient; level varies from medium to high, with an average of medium. Social Organization: Rats tend to be gregarious. They generally live in colonies, although some individuals may take on relatively solitary roles (e.g., couriers, expatriate alchemists). The size of colonies varies extensively, from small groups of perhaps a dozen related rats to small “cities” of hundreds of rats. Political structure is diverse as well, from authoritarian to true democratic to anarchism. Meritocracies are very common among laboratory-dwelling rats. Occupations: Diverse, but most frequently include chemists, alchemists, “clean men” (radioactive controls technicians), couriers, foragers, and scriveners. Due to their intelligence and ability to manipulate objects with their hands, rats sometimes, as either individuals or colonies, work alongside other species as “support staff.” Religion: Varies extensively from colony to colony, but irreligion is very common. Some rats have adopted voodoo, which originated among primates, and adapted it to emphasize the intellectual aspects rather than the spiritual. More tribal or isolated colonies of rats may have religious beliefs that are animistic or pantheistic, often worshiping their ancestral memory of the Architects or the Vesper facility itself. Other Notes: Rats have a delegation at Central Control, the largest organization within the Vesper Facility. Related Species: Although many different species of Rodentia were kept and bred as research specimens or for conservation purposes, very few of them still survive in the Vesper Facility. It is likely that many species, including the cavy (Cavia porcellus) and the golden hamster (Mesocricetus auratus), either never escaped or were never released from their enclosures. Others, like the house mouse (Mus musculus), may have escaped only to find themselves pushed out by the larger, more aggressive rat. Despite competition for resources, there are some small, isolated regions where Rodentia species besides the rat may still exist. The wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus) has been seen in some areas where either natural food is plentiful (e.g. conservatories, hydroponic fields, seawater inlets) or the main entrances and exits are difficult to breach (e.g. isolation wards, high security storage), and the degu (Octodon degu) has been observed in at least one region with access to an algae species that is low in natural sugars.