Rats- The Hysteria Laid Flat.
Nothing seems to cause a panic like someone screaming "RATS!"
It's like someone shouting "BOMB" or "ANTHRAX!" except instead of death there's only two eyes, a pink nose and whiskers blinking confusedly up at you.
But in people's imagination they see diseased and vicious little beasts, squealing and clawing and biting. They envision all those early horror movies with the rats making impossible screeching sounds.
They imagine them as villains, or mindless pests that steal and invade. Very few people imagine the truth. Rats are just social animals, that want warmth food, and to protect their family and feel love and joy, just like humans.
Come, Its time to put the hysteria aside and step into the 21st century.
Hysteria: Ugh rats! They're diseased vermin, ugh I feel the black plauge coming just by thinking of them!
Reality: This is the first thing people resort to when they want a reason to kill, maim, or just want to hate, rats.
It doesn't seem to matter if the animal is domesticated or wild (or even actually ill).
The danger of rats as a health problem is over exaggerated and in fact, the U.S government does not consider rats a public health problem.
Rats get blamed for typhus, leptospirosis, salmenonisis, and shigellouis but its unclear how many cases are due to rats. For example, most salmonesis cases are due to humans!
Rats and mice are not anymore diseased then any other wild animal. Domesticated rodents are less diseased then even cats or dogs. Furthermore humans often create the unsanitary conditions that rodents find themselves in, and don't you think its extreme to declare death for ill animals? Would it be acceptable to poison a schoolyard for fear of "diseased" elementary children?
You honestly cannot deny that schoolyards are full of disease carriers ;)
Finally, rats DID NOT CARRY THE PLAUGE. That is a MYTH that has been BUSTED.
So who did carry the plague? Fleas? Mice? Some other small animal easy to persecute?
No. It was the HUMANS all along. So, do we get to exterminate all the humans now? That is the prevailing logic, isn't it?
Hysteria: Rats and mice are extremely destructive and must be destroyed!
Reality: Its true mice and rats have open rooted incisors that continuously grow, and that they like chewing. Its also true that before it being your house, that wood used to be trees, or trees and habitat used to be where your house stood. If one wants to claim that another is destructive one should look at themselves first. Black kettles and all that.
In fact you could say that with every hole they gnaw through they are returning the building to what it originally was and in a very real way, they are indestructive...or undestructive.
Of course its rational that no one should want their home destroyed (ahem, rodents included) and by no means do we want you to keep unwanted rodents in your home, so we encourage you to safely remove them.
Hysteria: Rats are mean, they bite and eat people!
Reality: Rats are surprisingly gregarious and affectionate creatures! Even wild ones and even to humans!
Think about it, when Jack Black (in his time the worlds most famous rat catcher) first kept albino rats he found them suitable to be young ladies of the era's pets. The only difference between that rat and the others was the fact he had no color pigment! Stephen C. Frantz studies wild rats and they climb into his lap. Try this with any other wild animal and see what happens.
The Hindu temple of kabas ( sacred rats) run among humans, never biting a soul, or sole for that matter. As long as you respect them (yes, I said respect rats!) they will not be inclined to harm you.
Rats bite thousands of Americans a year. Dogs bite 3 MILLION and carry the risk of rabies.
From time to time a horror story concerning rats pops up, sometimes about rats "eating" humans.
Lets get one thing straight, rats do NOT "hunt" humans. A rat would rather pick up a piece of cereal then launch a full scale attack on a person. A rat is not a predator, it is a scavenger. It wouldn't know what to do with a jugular vein, it doesn't organize hunting parties.
Some may point out there are cases in which a rat will eat another animal. This is true, but the rat simply picks it up and starts eating like its a berry. There is no predatory instinct to dispatch its prey, only opportunistic feedings.
There may be unfortunate cases when, due to child neglect, rats will be attracted to old food and maybe kill or injure an infant.
it's hard to say if these stories are true or not, because rats are a common enemy and who'd question it? It makes for a great story and the parents can blame the rats for their neglect.
The truly tragic part is that rats are deemed such villains that authorities don't go after the real culprit, i.e the parents.
Think about it. The child would have to be unbathed, with rotten food sticking about it, left alone for hours in an out of control infested room, and so abandoned that no one comes when the child starts crying.
So keep in mind who is telling you what. I'm not trying to tell you that the media fear mongers and really only cares about better ratings. But I am thinking it loudly.
Hysteria: Rats are stupid mindless pests! They don't have feelings so what does it matter if they die?!
Reality: Actually a lot people recognize that rats are quite smart, though they may not know how feeling they are. So I'm surprised when I come against people who dare call rats stupid!
Rats and mice are extremely social and complex animals. They build friendships and enemy..ships...
Ready to get your mind blown away? Rats have meta cognition. Studies have proven that a rat will weigh his decisions based on what he knows, doesn't know, and knows that he doesn't know.
Yeah wrap your brain around that a bit. Rats surpass your average 16 year old in that they understand that there is information out there that they don't have, and they act on it. This behavior was only until then, only found in primates.
But lets get one thing straight, even if they were drooling idiots they still deserve compassion.
Why? Because it doesn't matter if they can "talk", or "think" or run, fly, or swim, what matters is that they can feel.
Rats laugh. To laugh they must feel joy!
Scientists started tickling rats and recorded their sounds at ultrasonic levels and found they laughed when tickled or playing with other rats, and the more the scientists played with the rats the more the rats would seek them out.
Rats can and do dream. Seriously, how are you going to harm an animal that has dreams?
Anyone who has a pet rat and watches them while they sleep will note foot twitching, nose twitching and perhaps a squeak or two.
Scientists believe they dream about the day they had.
So, they have complex thinking skills, feel joy, and dream. Doesn't sound like a stupid mindless pest to me. Sounds like my best friend.
So dear reader, riddle me this.
Who inhabits almost every continent, spreads disease, creates disease, lays waste to their environment, breeds and overpopulates like crazy, invades homes, and causes millions of human deaths a year?
If you said "rat" you're WRONG.
If you said "mouse", you're WRONG.
If you said "Humans" Ding ding ding!
Words to remember.