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It’s a ratty, ratty, ratty world

Happy World Rat Day! No, really. Rattophobes (AKA musophobes, murophobes or suriphobes), turn away now.

I was born in the Year of the Rat, and I’ve always had a soft spot for rodents. In isolation — I mean, not living in the walls and peeing on your cornflakes — they are nice, clean and friendly little beasties.

I got quite interested in fancy mouse breeding in my twenties, until it was driven home to me that culling is an important part of the hobby. Not really into crushing babbies, me.

Still, I learned enough about rodent husbandry that I was quite excited to come to London. One of our first dates, I made Uncle B take me to the London and Southern Counties Rat and Mouse Club, the oldest fancy rat club in the world.

We went to a rat and mouse show. And he married me anyway.

The hobby owes its origins to Jack Black, Queen Victoria’s rat catcher. Whenever he trapped an unusual-looking rat, he spared its life and bred it. A hundred and umpty years later, and the number of recognized varieties of fancy rat is astonishing.

Though I’ve kept many mice as pets over the years, I’ve never kept a rat. They are smart and friendly (and large) enough to capture your affection like a proper pet, but they don’t live long. And they tend to die horribly.

Anyway. Not sure how you celebrate World Rat Day. Eat a peanut butter sandwich and shit on the counter?


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: April 4, 2018, 9:26 pm

Also, please enjoy this interesting article from one of my favorite London museums on the relationship between Ganesh and the rat.

Comment from thefritz
Time: April 4, 2018, 9:34 pm

Your Chinese Zodiac Sign…

Rats are quick-witted, resourceful, versatile, kind, smart, and lovely with strong intuition and quick response, they always easily adapt themselves to a new environment. With rich imaginations and sharp observation, Rats can take advantage of various opportunities well. Rats have strong curiosity, so they tend to try their hands at anything, and they can deal with it skillfully.

Rats are kind, but sometimes impolite to others. People of the Rat zodiac sign usually sleep late, for mice are nocturnal animals.

Comment from Ric Fan
Time: April 4, 2018, 10:32 pm

Just watched a video on Fontevraud Abbey. Many Kings and Queens of England are buried there, including, Henry II/Eleanor of A, King Richard, King John, etc. For hundreds of years the abbey was used by a prison by those nasty republicans during the terror and by the gestapo. Seems pretty disrepecul by the krauts. I always found it so interesging that once these kings kick the bucket all their lords grab what valuables they can from the body and skeddadle.


Comment from Bruno Braun
Time: April 5, 2018, 12:49 am

“Eat a peanut butter sandwich and shit on the counter?”
I call that Wednesday.

Comment from RimrockR
Time: April 5, 2018, 1:09 am

Dumbo rats are wicked cute. Thats a fancy rat that I could…fancy!

Comment from OldFert
Time: April 5, 2018, 5:32 am

We handled culling our mice and gerbils by bringing the young’uns to the pet shop and trading them for feed. We could always tell ourselves they were sold as pets, not as snake food.

Comment from Durnedyankee
Time: April 5, 2018, 11:18 am

No no Bruno wins. Everyone else can go home and try again tomorrow.

And having married one I can assure you people of the rat DO NOT sleep in. Unless there’s a variety that has a spring under their tail that makes them leap out of bed at oh dark thirty every day to move the world.

Comment from Fritzworth
Time: April 5, 2018, 3:08 pm

“They don’t live long. And they tend to die horribly.”

Sigh. Yes. My wife and I had two wonderful pet rats — Bright Eyes and Toofer — who were sweet, playful, and great fun. Both died by age 3 or so, in each case from some kind of lung infection. Haven’t had any since.

Comment from bikeboy
Time: April 5, 2018, 3:53 pm

When I was a kid, a friend of my dad’s gave us a couple rats – one white, one “holstein.” I thought they were awesome! Turns out one was a boy and the other was a girl… we started getting litters. Then the guy called and advised us to rid ourselves of the gift rats; one of his was diagnosed with tuberculosis.

40 years go by, and a lady at the office was giving away a rat – free, and with cage, food, etc. I thought my kids would like it, and they did. We all enjoyed Humphrey for a couple years, until he took ill and died. I shed a tear or two as we carefully put him in a shoebox and buried him in our back yard pet cemetery.

Maybe we’ll get another someday. The tail is a little hard to get used to, but they are delightful friendly critters.

Comment from peacelovewoodstock
Time: April 5, 2018, 4:13 pm

Not only are rats delightful and friendly critters, according to James Clavell, they are quite tasty as well!


(a great novel, and made an excellent movie)

Comment from DurnedYankee
Time: April 5, 2018, 5:32 pm

“Not only are rats delightful and friendly critters, according to James Clavell, they are quite tasty as well!”

Just ask G. Gordon Liddy.

Comment from Steve Skubinna
Time: April 6, 2018, 12:26 am

In one of Patrick O’Brien’s novels Doctor Maturin’s lab rats disappear. It turns out they were stolen by the midshipmen who served them up in an onion sauce.

Comment from Durnedyankee
Time: April 6, 2018, 11:21 am

Guy had a lot of nerve dropin dead before he wrote Aubrey as a Fleet Admiral.

Comment from Formerly known as Skeptic
Time: April 6, 2018, 5:52 pm

After school, I used to enjoy playing with the white rats from our High School Biology classroom (friendly with the teacher – I was a serious geek). I once went by a cheerleading practice in the hallway with one on my shoulder and the mixed reactions were priceless. Half of the girls recoiled and the other half were all coos and giggles and wanting to pet it.

Comment from Allen
Time: April 7, 2018, 5:03 pm

We have mostly kangaroo rats around these parts. Cute little suckers. Up at my place in the mountains they’ve found them with both Hanta Virus and Plague so I’ve got that going for me.

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