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Wistar rats are an outbred strain of albino rats belonging to the species Rattus norvegicus. This strain was developed at the Wistar Institute in 1906 for use in biological and medical research, and is notably the first rat strain developed to serve as a model organism at a time when laboratories primarily used Mus musculus, or the common House mouse. More than half of all laboratory rat strains are descended from the original colony established by physiologist Henry Donaldson, scientific administrator Milton J. Greenman, and genetic researcher/embryologist Helen Dean King.
The Wistar rat is currently one of the most popular rat strains 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 rat strains were developed from Wistar rats. Wistar rats are more active than other strains like sprague dawley rats.