How Did Rats Become Represented In A Negative Way?

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Dec 19, 2009 in Rat Answers | Subscribe

Calling someone a rat is usually considered an insult. Rats are often times represented as filthy, disease ridden animals, usually up to no good. Really, they dont seem too much different from a mouse or a hampster.

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3 Comments

  • Michelle C says:

    Because wild rats are disease-ridden, garbage-feasting animals who seem like they’re “up to no good” because they have no problem chewing through your wires or garbage bags.
    Although their rep isn’t as bad as rats’, wild mice are often represented negatively as well. Can’t you just see a ’50s housewife screaming and standing on a chair, holding her skirt up, because there’s a mouse in the kitchen?
    Wild hamsters don’t have a bad rep because they aren’t city-dwellers. You don’t find wild hamsters where the average person lives.
    ETA: For the respondents above me, rats didn’t personally spread the plague. It was spread by infected fleas who lived on small rodents such as rats, mice and squirrels. If you want to blame an animal, blame the marmot. Many historians believe that the whole ordeal originated in the lungs of marmots, who spread the bacteria by coughing.

  • Camellia says:

    I studied this in my History class. Rats became represented in a bad light due to the Bubonic Plague. The plague actually originated in Asia, and the plague didn’t come from the rats themselves, but from the fleas they carried. But back then people didn’t realize that. It was carried to Europe by merchant ships that traveled from Asia to Europe via the Black Sea. The rats that had the infected fleas came along on the ships. When everyone started getting sick and dying, they blamed the rats, seeing them as “disease ridden vermin” and began killing all of the rats they came across, along with burning the bodies in fear of still catching it.

  • rainbowl says:

    It’s because people associate them with wild sewer rats that live in garbages and carry disease, etc. Esp. ppl in bigger cities seem to have a harder time accepting rats. The reality is that rats are fantastic pets, anyone who has been lucky enough to own any will tell you how sweet, smart, funny, entertaining, loving they are. They are so smart it blows me away. I never in a million years dreamed I could get so close and bonded to a rodent. My ratties are my little sweeties. My rat, Journey, is sitting on my shoulder right now as I type, licking my cheek… how scary and vicious! *rolls eyes* Rats are unfairly missunderstood creatures. They are also ADORABLE. They do the cutest, most hilarious things.

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