Posts Tagged ‘Rats’


Posted: November 1, 2016 in Animals, Fun Facts, Nature
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Listen, I’ve always hated rats. They just creep me out to no end. And I have no hatred towards snakes or spiders, it’s just the rats, man. I’ve had a couple rat experiences that have fed my fears, including the following:

When I was a kid we had a pony named Thunder, who lived in a little barn and field behind our house. At one point it was my job to go out and feed him some oats in the morning. I staggered out, sort of half asleep, and opened the 50-gallon barrel where the oats were kept. I reached in to grab the can to fill so I could feed Thunder, except that wasn’t a can, bro. It was a rat. I briefly touched it, and the next thing I heard was this loud, whiny, screeching sound, which incidentally was coming from me. Oh, the rat made a sound too but mine was much more terrifying. Anywho, that may have been the beginning.

Years later when I was coaching high school hoops I had another freaky encounter. Back then I had to walk from my office way down by the gym all the way up to the high school office in order to call in my stats and interviews to the newspaper and radio and whatnot. Anyway, after making my calls I was heading back down the long hallway, just minding my own business. Suddenly and without warning, a giant rat comes flying around a corner, just hurtling toward me full throttle. That in itself would have been nightmare inducing enough, right? But n-o-o-o-o, there’s more. This rat was jacked up, man. Methinks it had been in the rat poison because this rat wasn’t right. It was bouncing off the walls, rolling over occasionally while every once in awhile standing up on its back feet, wobbling unsteadily. And oh yeah, it was making a noise that sounded as if it emanated from the depths of hell. At that point I froze for a second, then turned and headed for the front exit before this beast leaped up, ripped a vein out of my neck and killed me. Sorry for the dramatics but I was traumatized. Still am.

benThen again, perhaps it all started with the movie “Ben” I saw as a teenager. It was about a lonely kid whose best friend was a rat. That movie turned out rather badly for many involved and may have left a mark or three on me. Now that I think of it, “Ben” was a sequel to “Willard”, which was terrifying in its own right.

Knowing all this, I made the somewhat questionable decision to watch a documentary called “Rats” on the Discovery Channel the other day. And you know what? Rats actually are kind of cool, to an extent. Here are some of the Rat Facts I came across whilst watching the documentary:

Rat Facts:

  • Although rats originated in Asia and Australia, they are now literally everywhere in the world. This is due to their skill at stowing away on ships. Rats are diabolical, man.
  • Rats’ front teeth grow 4½ to 5½ inches each year. Rats wear them down by continuously gnawing on everything around them, including cement, brick, wood, lead pipes, and other small animals. Yikes. On a related note, when I was a kid I found a tiny skull with long, curved fangs. I thought it was something from the ice ages until my dad explained it was a sick rat who couldn’t file down his teeth. Chills, dude.
  • A female rat can mate as many as 500 times with various males during a six-hour period of receptivity—a state she experiences about 15 times per year. Thus a pair of brown rats can produce as many as 2,000 descendants in a year if left to breed unchecked. And you thought your cousin Emily was loose.
  • The average rat’s lifespan is 2-3 years.
  • The largest species of rat is the Bosavi woolly rat, which was discovered in 2009 in the rainforest of Papua New Guinea (and doesn’t have a scientific name yet). It is about the size of a cat — 32.2 inches from nose to tail. Nightmare fuel, baby.
  • A rat can tread water for three days and survive being flushed down the toilet. Oh, and it can return to the building via the same route. Watch yo ass, brother.
  • Male rats are called bucks; females are does. Infants are called pups or kittens. A group of rats is called a mischief. A Mischief of Rats. Seems about right.
  • Rats take care of injured and sick rats in their group. See? Rats are compassionate, dude.
  • Rats are extremely clean animals, cleaner than cats, and spend several hours every day grooming themselves and their group members. They are also less likely than cats or dogs to catch and transmit parasites and viruses. This both surprises and pleases me. I always thought rats were greasy, filthy rodents.
  • Without companionship rats tend to become lonely and depressed. Huh. Sorta like me.
  • Rats have excellent memories. Once they learn a navigation route, they won’t forget it. In other words, once they find their way to your bedroom they will always remember.
  • When happy, rats have been observed to chatter or grind their teeth. This is often accompanied by vibrating eyes. Sweet Son of a Mother that’s creepy.
  • Rats make happy “laughter” sounds when they play. Seriously. Take a listen:

Boy, ol Jaak Panksaap has it figured out, huh? On a related note, he seems to like that rat just a little too much.

  • Rats succumb to peer-pressure, just like humans. Brown rats are prone to disregard personal experiences in order to copy the behaviour of their peers. The urge to conform is so strong that they will even choose to eat unpalatable food if they are in the company of other rats who are eating it. Reminds me of junior high kids.
  • A rat can fall as far as 50-feet and land uninjured. That’s superhuman, dude.
  • Although very curious animals, rats are also shy, and prefer to run away than confront a potential threat.
  • Like dogs, rats can easily learn their name. “Here Ratty Ratty!”ratname
  • A rat can go longer than a camel without having a drink of water.
  • Rats’ tails help them to balance, communicate and regulate their body temperature.
  • It is extremely rare for a human to get rabies from a rat.
  • The rat is the first of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac. People born in this year are thought to possess characteristics which are associated with rats, namely: creativity, intelligence, honesty, ambition and generosity. See? The Chinese knew.

So there ya go. Seems rats aren’t the demons from hell I thought they were. Heck, I may take one for a pet soon.



So I ran across this video showing that not only are rats really smart, they show empathy as well. Take a look: