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December 01, 2005

Xtreme Rat Challenge

I've got to say, I'm with Simon Jeffery of the Guardian Newsblog on this one:

A failure to accept the world as it is may lie at the heart of the statements to follow. Still, minus the odd cat (and they know who they are) I find it difficult to dislike anything that is furry and has a long tail. This even extends to rats. Yes, I know about the black death, about Weil's disease and what are generally considered to be fast breeding vermin. But when I see a rattus norvegicus poking its water-sodden head through a grate on a dark London street, and scampering off to find food or a new place to live, I can't help thinking it is just trying to get by like the rest of us.

Yes, this is anthropomorphism of the highest order (and reason enough to steer clear of March of the Penguins when it is released in UK cinemas). However, it transpires I am not alone on the rat-human axis. Today sees the start of the Xtreme Rat Challenge, which is a sort of Olympic games for rats.

My only quibble is that, as a New Yorker, I know that affection for rats is an important step towards accepting the world as it is. These little guys kick ass. They're smart and they're tough and nobody wants to eat them. We should all be so lucky.

In that spirit, I present to you Xtreme Rat Challenge from Nebraska Wesleyan's psychology department.


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Lindsay Beyerstein defends one of the less-highly-regarded species: [A]s a New Yorker, I know that affection for rats is an important step towards accepting the world as it is. These... [Read More]


I do believe they are regularly barbecued in SE Asia.

They make great pets. Intelligent, friendly and confident, full of personality. They're like little dogs you can carry around in your shirt.

Just don't let them near any computer or phone cables. They love those.

My college roommate had a pet rat. Lovely little critter. Friendly, smart, curious.

I don't mind domestic rats, but I don't like the wild ones. Sorry. Don't like 'em. It's like the difference between your friendly neighborhood dog and a hyena.

Yumm, taste just like chicken.


My son has a pet rat. I sort of encouraged him to get one when we were at the pet store.

As a psychology major (when I was a young and naively idealistic college kid) I took the required rat lab, which involved conditioning the rats to perform various tasks for little sugar pellets. Every psych major has to do this. Anyway, I told myself I was going to keep the rat after the course was done, because I knew they were going to do physiological experiments on them after we were done with them. Of course, this ultimately would lead to their demise. When the rat lab course actually ended, however, I changed my mind and let the university keep him. I selfishly decided that I couldn't be bothered with a pet at that time in my life. So the purchase of this rat (Jasmine, a fancy rat with a gray and white coat) was my admittedly half-assed way of atoning for this sin.

My son and I have had a lot of fun with her ever since.

Have Had Norwegian roof rats come in from god knows where for months. They scamper & scurry and leave little gifts and breed itty bitty little babies.

Got these special huge black plastic snap traps from Loews and I put the dog kibble way in the back so they get their heads really smushed unless they're quick and get only a leg caught then i have to use the meat tenderizing hammer and they are really hard to kill like there are no brains up there at all.

I'll accept the karma. I really really hate rats.

I'm carrying a fair store of rat stories- R. norvegicus, R. rattus, the local wood rats & mountain beavers (Oplodonts) as well... they just came with the territory. My favorite incident (& one that I'd hope might encourage an experiment, somewhere) was an occasion during a time that I slept nightly in loose hay in a barn in coastal Oregon. I had a transistor radio that I'd tune to KGO (in SF) as I was dropping off. The radio sat on a south-facing windowsill, and Jazzbo Collins used to lull me off to sleep (although I usually turned the radio off before going under). One morning, however, when I'd left it on all night, I opened my eyes to discover a rat, sitting on my bag above my thighs, with all of his(?) attention focused on the radio. I watched for maybe 15 seconds before he realized that I was awake (or, maybe "there")- and I saw some incredible changes take place in that little countenance- like chagrin, and panic, and Embarrassment! Really- this guy ran off berating himself (I could hear "Damn!.. how'd I let that happen?" in my head). A lot of my fear and antipathy for rats in general (mostly absorbed 2nd-hand) simply melted away, at that point. It really changed my life (as well as the rat's, I imagine- certainly Jazzbo, &/or the music must have affected his life, a little).

Oh, and for any rat-lovers who may have missed it in their childhoods, Mrs. Frisby & the Rats of NIMH is a terrific book.

Skip the animated version, though. It's crap.

I had a pet hairless rat a few years ago. Mostly to scare the crap out of girls my roomates and I brought to the apartment. Because of his resemblance to a certain part of the male anatomy, his name was Scroty. Damn he was gross.

I'm with Bob on this. I really hate rats.

in re anthropomorphism try:
or if you are fishing around the the reference is the October 9 OPUS cartoon.

I TA'd one of those lab-rat-n-sugar-pellets classes in grad school. There was an undergraduate couple in my class who became so fond of their rats that they got a set of their own from a fancy rat breeder when the class ended (they did not have the option to keep their class rats). After graduation, I was very happy to rat-sit for them while they were on their honeymoon. They were really pleasant little pets although they do have a tendency to nibble on things when unsupervised, and the males leak a bit as they walk around.

Mice, on the other hand, are nasty little brutes.

NY rats feed the underground reptiles. A sewer worker claimed that he found a 3-foot, 50 pound snapping turtle sitting from of a rain grate. Every so often food fell from the sky onto the grate.

What gets me is roaches. In SF I had striped roaches. Every other wing was yellow/red. The babies had two sets, and as they grew they had more stripes. They were almost pretty. Almost.

They hid in my espresso maker, and scrambled around on it while I had it hot. They were heated up, so they scrambled real fast. I lay in wait for them, and was often too slow.

It is fortunate for squirrels that they have bushy tails; otherwise they're just large rats that live in our backyards. Here on a university campus we have the fattest squirrels in the world as students train them to come up and get treats. I figure they did something really noble in their previous life to get reincarnated as a squirrel on our campus.

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