You not so dirty rat

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Mar 4, 2014 in Rat News | Subscribe

I like animals as much as the next person (as long as the next person isn’t that dodgy league player, you know the one). Especially baby ones. Heck, I’ll squeal at the sight of a tiny, tiny antelope like the soft, girly person that I am. But on the whole, I’m not that keen on having animals on or about my person.

I like cats. Cats, I can deal with. You know where you are with a cat, that is, somewhere beneath it, both in terms of physical location (they’ll sit where they damn well please, and no it doesn’t bother them in the slightest if you were thinking of using that lap, shoulder or leg for something useful) as well as in terms of power and the social hierarchy. Cats look down on us and use us for their own petting and feeding ends. And we like it. It’s an uncomplicated relationship.

Dogs are rather more confusing to me because they seem to need validation or something. I can’t be dealing with the neediness generally. And they usually smell a bit funky. I now believe meerkats to be the handservants of Beelzebub and I’ll not hear otherwise.

Of course in childhood I indulged in my fair share of rabbit/guinea pig worship. Mostly because of their cute widdle noses.

RatBut mice and especially rats I have always been a bit wary of. They’re quite twitchy, fast moving little blighters, prone to dart from one side of a room to another. I have a general mistrust of anything that has the ability to run to, or on me, quite that easily. In the past, I’ve been troubled, nay terrorised, by mice in various flats that I’ve lived in and to this day any unidentified rustling noise will put steel in my spine and fear in my heart.

I used to sometimes see mice, or more often rats, crawling over the tracks on the Underground when I lived in London and the sight of them always made me feel sick. I had a similar reaction a few years ago when I saw a massive river rat scuttling between buildings (one of which was the cafe regularly frequented) near the Avon River. The dark, shadowy, but substantial creature that lumbered (it was massive) out of the corner of my eye quite got my pulse quickening that winter evening.

So when I visited my friend Fringa’s home at the weekend and got introduced to their two pet rats, it was not without some level of trepidation. Cookie (the Fringa progeny) brought them both into the living room and my first, instinctive reaction was to scream “they’re ON you! For the love of God, stop, drop and roll!” in a very shrill voice. Now, obviously in moments of crisis common sense flies out of the window. I’m pretty sure in case of “rat attack” that “stop, drop and roll” is not a helpful strategy. In fact, a bit of impromptu krumping would probably be the best way to go.

But anyway, I bit my tongue and watched with increasing fascination as she let the little beasties crawl all over her. She seemed not a bit worried.

After observing for a little while and determining that these rats were not carrying the bubonic plague and were almost a bit cute, I allowed one of them to be put on my arm. I’m not going to lie. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have done this if it weren’t for the fact I’d had a few glasses of wine by way of sedation. It really wasn’t so bad. It didn’t make for my eyes in an attempt to get at my delicious eye juices. It did not bite me or scratch me with its tiny claws. It pretty much just sniffed a lot and climbed around. It didn’t even look at me funny.

Hm, well what had I been worried about? How silly to be so scared of them. In the end I had both rats clambering about up my arms and was perfectly happy to do so. Yay me!

So, I think I might have chipped into my fear of the ratlike. I won’t be getting pally with river rats anytime soon and I still find their tails a bit reptilian and therefore repugnant but I feel like I’ve made a great rodenty leap forward.

How do you feel about rats and mice? Small and harmless or disease carrying eyeball-eating vermin? Have you, whether under the influence of riesling or not, made an attempt to conquer a long-held fear and how did you feel afterwards?

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I’m quite ok with rats and mice. I don’t like rats’ tails much either, but they don’t make me want to scream. I have a friend who is mortally terrified of mice and rats. She freaks out at the mere thought of them. It almost borders on ridiculous. We were at Auckland zoo a while back and a mouse was cruising round on the ground in the crocodile enclosure. She screamed and almost cried when she saw it… twas a bit embarrassing…

I had two pet mice when I was a kid. They were awesome! I would have preferred a rat as they are a bit cleaner but I still loved my mice! Not such a big fan of wild mice in my house though, not because they scare me but because they such quick little critters that I spend hours chasing them round trying to catch them! And they always somehow get past the numerous mouse traps and lick all the peanut butter off them….

But ferrets. Ew. They bite and scratch and run up your legs! And they look like they might try and nom your eyes! Icky! My friend had a couple and, well, they freaked me out!

Love ’em! I had ridiculous numbers of pet mice as a kid (due quite likely to the shonky efforts of pet shops to separate male and female mousies – not that the mousies themselves minded too much, it would appear). Then moved on to pet rats. Rats are the best. Little buggers used to race round my shoulders and down my arms of an evening, as I sat watching television. They were great fun, and very, very endearing. Curiously, my parents drew the line however, when I announced that the next logical step from rats was a ferret.

I’m all good with mice, but rats not so much. A pet rat I could handle but not a “disease carrying eyeball-eating” wild one! I live out in a rural area so my cat regularly brings mice inside to play with (normally at 3am). I just use a tea towel to grab it and throw back outside before she lets it escape under the fridge or the oven. I once found a family of mice living in a box of cat biscuits I had stashed at the back of a cupboard. The cat thought it was Christmas when I tipped them out into the paddock, she didn’t know which one to grab first so in the end they all escaped haha.

Your “Rat Attack” advice reminds me of an early South Park episode where they watched a video about how to deal with a volcanic eruption and were shown the “Duck and Cover” technique.

I am totally an animal lover!! I love all kinds. My friend has a pair of pet rats and I LOVE them! I think they are adorable. And I had pet mice as a kid, but we gave them away after the cat knocked over their tank (thankfully all sneaky mice found safe hiding places and didn’t get caught by my rascally cat).

But the big henious river rats *shiver* yeah I wouldn’t play with them!

OMG I’m laughing at the mental pictures of you rolling on a rat and a little rat holding on for dear life as you try and crump it off! Hahahaha.

I have nothing against mice if they STAY OUT OF THE KITCHEN. And as long as rats don’t nest in the ceiling and make an awful racket then they don’t bother me either.

OMG Moata, I think you need this –

Oh, and this –

I had several pet mice as a kid. They’re adorable, and as long as you get females and keep them in clean soil or sawdust, they don’t smell. They are so cute – running in their little wheels, holding food in their little paws and nibbling it, digging tunnels between their sleeping quarters and their food so they can come and go safely and snugly. I’ve never had a rat but I’d love to have one (hubby won’t allow it – he’s squeamish like you were Moata!). Apparently they are extremely intelligent, loving, and fun to train. However, there is a big difference between a pet rat and a honking great river/subway rat!

You do write well, Moata.

Did you mean ‘tales’ or ‘tails’? I’ve never heard them speak, but they do look as if they might have good stories.

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