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Color Phases of the Roof Rat, Rattus rattus

James W. Caslick
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1376686 255-257 First published online: 1 May 1956

Widespread confusion regarding the subspeciation of Rattus rattus persists among zoologists and others who are concerned with rat control. Although the first volume of the Journal of Mammalogy contained a reference to the problem (Miller, 1920), little progress toward its solution has been reported.

In the United States, three subspecies of Raltus rattus are widely recognized in accordance to their pelage coloration, as follows: Back brown, belly white— frugivorus; back brown, belly dark gray—alexandrinus; back and belly both dark gray—raltus.

Hinton (1931) recorded his views on the evolution of these subspecies from a form closely resembling R. r. frugivorus. Reese (1919) and Anthony (1928) recognized only R. r. rattus and R. r. alexandrinus; however, the trend toward taxonomic division into the three outlined subspecies has become increasingly strong. Recent government publications describe these forms as separate subspecies (Silver, 1942; Florida State Board of Health, 1951). Field workers have frequently reported black and brown rats …

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