Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Badly In Need of Max Clifford

" They fought the dogs and killed the cats,
And bit the babies in the cradles,
And ate the cheeses out of the vats,
And licked the soup from the cooks' own ladles,
Split open the kegs of salted sprats,
Made nests inside men's Sunday hats,
And even spoiled the women's chats,
By drowning their speaking
With shrieking and squeaking
In fifty different sharps and flats."

RATS, of course, for those who know the verse. My own experience is nothing like that described by Robert Browning who penned 'The Pied Piper of Hamelin'. As a kid I kept pet rats, and what great pets they were too. Intelligent, friendly - and clean. Never once was I bitten, something I couldn't say for the various mice, hamsters and gerbils that seemed to delight in drawing blood just for the sake of it.
Living next to a stream/ditch/trickle we get them in the garden at times, where we try and discourage them by avoiding putting food where they can reach it. Even the new fence hasn't kept them out. Sadly the numbers often increase and we see the pest control van round at our neighbours who also back onto the stream. It was there the day after I took these pictures (from the hide - they're not that bold). And I do understand how people feel, but it's sad. We've even discussed stopping feeding the birds, but that too would be sad.

If you compare these pictures to the ones I took of water voles in the past (here) there really isn't that big a difference, yet the voles are revered, the rats despised. I suppose the problem is that very tendency to reproduce at the drop of a hat (Sunday hat or not), and then start to come looking for food when the numbers increase past the point where they can forage enough at night.

And yes I do know about Weil's disease, but deer carry the ticks that give us Lyme disease and we don't go around shooting them do we? Well okay, yes we do - apparently it's sport. Well alright foetal damage from your cat's toxoplasma, or your child's ocular toxocara from the dog. What we need is someone to breed strong, aggressive and infertile male rats we can release like they do with fruit flies.

There you go. Rant over. And don't tell Kay I've told you about the R . A. T. S 's , because they're such a stigma we don't usually mention them in polite company. And I know some of you will disagree, but allow me my view too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great photos of the rats, Brian, and stimulating discussion. They do seem to get a raw deal. Very agile and intelligent creatures. When I lived in Gosport I watched one that was sitting in a bramble bush eating blackberries.