Name: __________________________________________

ratRat External Anatomy

Procedure: Obtained your rat. Rinse it off with water and place it in your dissecting pan to observe the general characteristics. Make sure you know each of the highlighted words. The rat's body is divided into six anatomical regions:

cranial region - head
cervical region - neck
pectoral region - area where front legs attach
thoracic region - chest area
abdomen - belly
pelvic region - area where the back legs attach

1. Note the hairy coat that covers the rat and the sensory hairs (whiskers) located on the rat's face, called vibrissae. checkbox
2. The mouth has a large cleft in the upper lip which exposes large front incisors. Rats are gnawing mammals, and these incisors will continue to grow for as long as the rat lives. checkbox
3. Note the eyes with the large pupil and the nictitating membrane found at the inside corner of the eye. This membrane can be drawn across the eye for protection. The eyelids are similar to those found in humans. checkbox
4. The ears are composed of the external part, called the pinna, and the auditory meatus, the ear canal. checkbox
5. Locate the teats on the ventral surface of the rat. Check a rat of another sex and determine whether both sexes have teats. checkbox
6. Examine the tail, the tails of rats do not have hair. Though some rodents, like gerbils, have hair on their tails. checkbox
7. Locate the anus, which is ventral to the base of the tale. checkbox
8. On female rats, just posterior to the last pair of teats, you will find the urinary aperture and behind that the vaginal orifice which is in a small depression called the vulva. checkbox
9. On males, you will find a large pair of of scrotal sacs which contain testes. Just anterior to the scrotal sacs is the prepuce, which is a bulge of skin surrounding the penis. The end of the penis has a urogenital orifice, where both urine and sperm exit. checkbox

The Muscular and Skeletal System of the Rat

Procedure: Skinning the Rat

You will carefully remove the skin of the rat to expose the muscles below. This task is best accomplished with scissors and forceps where the skin is gently lifted and snipped away from the muscles. You can start at the incision point where the latex was injected and continue toward the tail. Use the lines on the diagram to cut a similar pattern, avoiding the genital area. Gently peel the skin from the muscles, using scissors and a probe to tease away muscles that stick to the skin.

Identify the following muscles and place a different colored pin in each so that you can easily identify them when questioned.

1. Biceps brachii - located on the anterior surface of the humerus. checkbox
2. Triceps brachii - located on the sides and back of the upper arm. checkbox
3. Spinotrapezius - located across the dorsal thoracic region of the rat. checkbox
4. Latissimus dorsi - located posterior (and partially covered) by the spinotrapezius. checkbox
5. Biceps femoris - located on the side of the thigh, in two bundles checkbox
6. Tibialis Anterior - located on the front of the leg. checkbox
7. Gastrocnemius - located on lower leg, bulk of the calf muscle. Attaches to heel by the Achilles Tendon.
8. External Oblique - located on the sides of the abdomen.checkbox
9. Gluteus Maximus - located on the lower back and rear. checkbox
10. Pectoralis Major/Minor - located in chest checkbox

checkpoint Pin the muscles listed above on a skinned rat and identify each.

rat muscles

Procedure: Carefully tease away the biceps femoris and gastrocnemius to expose the 3 leg bones: Tibia, Fibula, and Femur and the small patella (kneecap). You can also see the ligaments around the knee that attach the bones of the lower leg to the femur and the achilles tendon which attaches the the gastrocnemius to the ankle. checkbox

Note that the joint of the hip is called a ball and socket. Examine how these bones fit into the pelvis. checkbox

checkpoint Bones exposed and identified.


Structures of the Head and Neck

salivary glands

1. Locate the salivary glands, which on the sides of the neck, between muscles. Carefully remove the skin of the neck and face to reveal these glands. Salivary glands are soft spongy tissue that secrete saliva and amylase (an enzyme that helps break down food). There are three salivary glands - the sublingual, submaxillary, and parotid. checkbox

2. Find the lymph glands which lie anterior to the salivary glands. Lymph glands are circular and are pressed against the jaw muscles. They are not always visible in the rat. checkbox

3. Tease away the muschles of the neck to reveal the trachea. The trachea is identifiable by its ringed cartilage which provides support. The esophagus lies underneath the trachea, though it is easier to locate in the abdominal cavity where it enters the stomach. checkbox

4. Locate the larynx, which is just anterior to the trachea. The larynx is the voice box, and it allows rats to making squeaking noises. checkbox

Procedure: Pin the structures of the head and neck - salivary glands, trachea, and lymph nodes (if visible) checkpoint


1. What are the four bones in the hind limb of the rat?  ____________________________________
2.  What are the three bones in the forelimb of the rat?  ____________________________________
3.  Where does the trachea lead? ______________________ The esophagus? ________________
4.  What feature do you find on females, but not males? __________________________________
5.  What tendon connects the gastrocnemius to the calcaneus? ____________________________
6.  What muscle was removed to expose the femur? _____________________________________
7.  What two muscles can be found on the dorsal side of the rat? ____________________________
8.  What muscle covers the ventral, abdominal region? ___________________________________
9.  What muscle covers the ventral, pectoral region?_____________________________________
10.  What structure is responsible for rat vocalization? ________________________________