Scientists have bred many strains or "lines" of rats specifically for experimentation. Most are derived from the albino Wistar rat, which is still widely used. Other common strains are the Sprague Dawley, Fischer 344,[7] Holtzman albino strains, the Long-Evans, and Lister black hooded rats. Inbred strains are also available but are not as commonly used as inbred mice

Laboratory rats share origins with their cousins in domestication, the fancy rats. In 18th century Europe, wild Brown rats ran rampant and this infestation fueled the industry of rat-catching. Rat-catchers would not only make money by trapping the rodents, but also by selling them for food, or more commonly, for rat-baiting.

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Biobreeding diabetes-prone rat (a.k.a. biobreeding rat or BBDP rat) is an inbred strain that spontaneously develops autoimmune type 1 diabetes. Like NOD mice, Biobreeding rats are used as an animal model for Type 1 diabetes. The strain re-capitulates many of the features of human type 1 diabetes, and has contributed greatly to the research of T1DM pathogenesis.[18]

The Wistar rat is currently one of the most popular rats used for laboratory research. It is characterized by its wide head, long ears, and having a tail length that is always less than its body length. The Sprague Dawley rat and Long-Evans rats were developed from Wistar rats. Wistar rats are more active than others like Sprague Dawley rats. The Spontaneously hypertensive rat and the Lewis rat are other well-known stocks developed from Wistar rats.

Hairless lab rats provide researchers with valuable data regarding compromised immune systems and genetic kidney diseases. It is estimated that there are over twenty-five genes that cause recessive hairlessness in laboratory rats.[19] The more common ones are denoted as rnu (Rowett nude), fz (fuzzy), and shn (shorn).

A laboratory rat is a rat of the species Rattus norvegicus (brown rat) which is bred and kept for scientific research. Laboratory rats have served as an important animal model for research in psychology, medicine, and other fields.

The Long–Evans rat is an outbred rat developed by Drs. Long and Evans in 1915 by crossing several Wistar females with a wild gray male. Long Evans rats are white with a black hood, or occasionally white with a brown hood. They are utilized as a multipurpose model organism, frequently in behavioral and obesity research.

These rats typically have increased tail to body length ratio compared with Wistar rats.

The shaking rat Kawasaki (SRK) is an autosomal recessive mutant rat that has a short deletion in the RELN gene.[25] This results in the lowered expression of Reelin protein, essential for proper cortex lamination and cerebellum development. Its phenotype is similar to the widely researched reeler mouse. Shaking rat Kawasaki was first described in 1988.[26] and the Lewis rat are other well-known stocks developed from Wistar rats.

Choose from a variety of subjects to fulfill a full year of intensive A-G wet labs to supplement your student's textbook work in as little as one week.

The historical importance of this species to scientific research is reflected by the amount of literature on it: roughly 50% more than that on laboratory mice.[1] Laboratory rats are frequently subject to dissection or microdialysis to study internal effects on organs and the brain, such as for cancer or pharmacological research. Laboratory rats not sacrificed may be euthanized or, in some cases, become pets.

Domestic rats differ from wild rats in many ways: they are calmer and less likely to bite, they can tolerate greater crowding, they breed earlier and produce more offspring, and their brains, livers, kidneys, adrenal glands, and hearts are smaller.

Lab Rat Academy assists high school students in meeting their California A-G requirements. 

The Royal College of Surgeons rat (RCS rat) is the first known animal with inherited retinal degeneration. Although the genetic defect was not known for many years, it was identified in the year 2000 to be a mutation in the gene Mertk. This mutation results in defective retinal pigment epithelium phagocytosis of photoreceptor outer segments.[24]

Current research applications include transplantation research, induced arthritis/inflammation, experimental allergic encephalitis, and STZ-induced diabetes.[23]

Obese Zucker rats have high levels of lipids and cholesterol in their bloodstream, are resistant to insulin without being hyperglycemic, and gain weight from an increase in both the size and number of fat cells.[38] Obesity in Zucker rats is primarily linked to their hyperphagic nature, and excessive hunger; however, food intake does not fully explain the hyperlipidemia or overall body composition.[36][38]

During food rationing due to World War II, British biologists ate laboratory rat, creamed.[10][11][12][13][14][15]