Monday, November 24, 2008


Oh Rats!

If you wanted to find the most depressing workplace in the world, you wouldn’t need to look further than the stinking, rat-infested sewers of a big city. But the article I’m reading reveals a rat catcher from Rentokil, who, though confessing to once being “bloody girly” about rats, is willing to descend into hell to fight the cause with bags of anticoagulant poison and a newspaper reporter (who must be really grateful to his editor for this assignment) for a 4 am guided tour of the sewers of Leeds.

Wondering how there can possibly be room for the 60 to 80 million rats in Britain has me squirming and wishing I didn‘t feel compelled to read on. I’d also rather not know that they can run faster than humans and jump up to six feet, although you’re not likely to witness this athletic prowess because they’re nocturnal.

So you won’t see the copulating that they do roughly twenty times a day either, sometimes mating until their partner dies of exhaustion, or notice that they don’t like peaches, but do like dog faeces. You might however hear them ‘laughing‘ (a high chirruping sound) one night when you can’t sleep, which they make when they’re amused or tickled.

They’re also cannibals and when feeding on another, they open the head and start with the brain. I can’t stop the repellent thought that it may be the cannibalism that amuses them and they‘re smacking their lips after their tasty meal and giggling like evil little Hannibal Lecters.

Mr Rentokil gives us more frightening and astonishing facts and warns that he is fighting a losing battle and that we should prepare ourselves for a plague of super rats which are rapidly evolving, stronger, more intelligent and longer-living. But at the end of the interview, he admits that if he weren’t paid to kill them he probably wouldn’t. You have to admire a man who, despite knowing all their disgusting habits, can still find rats fascinating.

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