Of Rats and Men
January 5, 2011 § 3 Comments
It’s hard to believe that here in the futuristic year of 2011, prejudice and bigotry still run rampant throughout America. Over the past few weeks, my eyes have been opened to an irrational hatred of a fellow Earth inhabitant, which most Americans do not even bother to hide. Who do they hate? Why are they hating? Rats, my friends. Rats. Rats as pets are so maligned, so under-appreciated that I hesitate to even mention to friends, family, people that I love and trust, that I am now part-owner of two pet rats. I am met with instant derision, cries of disgust and disdain. And yet most of these folks have never once known the feeling of being loved by a warm and cuddly little rattie friend! I love them just as much as my cats or Danny’s dog! They are sociable, soft and furry, inquisitive, active, and playful animals and it is a privilege to be a rat owner.
Let’s take a look at some common rat misconceptions and see what we can do to debunk them. When you think of a rat’s appearance, you imagine the cartoon rat:
Note the glowing red eyes, the hideous bulk, the matted fur, the wormy tail. This image is a lie, propagated by Disney and the mass media (and we all know how much to trust them). My rats are domesticated. Their fur is soft and warm, their tails bounce jauntily as they scamper around, they fit snugly in the palm of my hand, and their eyes are black and bright with curiosity. They also spend at least 30% of their day grooming and cleaning themselves. Unless you are a cat or my mother, you cannot hope to equal this number. It is a simple fact: my rats are cleaner than you. Here are a few pictures I’ve taken of my rats in their daily quest for cleanliness and beauty:
Another common rattie misunderstanding is the basic lack of nutritional food. You’re thinking of wild rats, running rampant through the back alley McDonald’s dumpsters, their red eyes filled with manic glee as they triumphantly emerge with moldy burger patties clenched between their giant, gnawing front teeth. PSHH. This is an absurdity. My rats eat more healthy food than Richard Simmons in his heyday. They value their dietary supplements and will never turn away from a nice serving of broccoli or carrots. They indulge perhaps once or twice a day in a sweet treat, but then it’s right back to wholesome grains and goodness! For your edification, I’ve posted some pictures of my rats’ keen interest in diet, exercise, and nutrition.
The final most misunderstood, mocked, and hated part of a rat is their tail. Indeed, it is not their best feature. But I have a big nose and my parents didn’t refuse to allow me in their house on Christmas Day! My sister thinks her eyebrows are ugly but no one points and screams when they see her. Danny’s dog often has matted, muddy fur and terrible doggy breath and yet everyone who meets Abby exclaims over her adorableness. So why are rats so chastised, so excluded, based on one little physical feature that they can’t help at all? No one kicked Julia Roberts out of Hollywood despite her teeth; Jim Carrey has the crazy eyes going on, but everyone loves his potty humor movies and obvious insanity. Lady Gaga makes millions of dollars by looking like something my rats threw up! So why, why, I repeat, are my handsome rat friends vilified by owning one squirmy little tail?? I don’t understand and I suppose I never will. To distract myself, I’ve drawn a picture of the invention I created to get people over their irrational hatred of rats’ tails.
Despite the incontrovertible evidence provided here that rats are clean, healthy, and beautiful, I still feel as if it won’t be enough to change the massive bigotry governing Americans’ thinking. I can only shake my head in despair and know I am doing my part in creating a welcoming home for these warm, loving creatures. One of these days, I won’t walk into a pet store and be asked if I’m purchasing a rat as a pet or as… complete the delicately trailed off sentence here. One of these days, America, your eyes will be opened to your ignorant prejudice and intolerance!
ps- here are pictures of our two rats, for realz this time. 🙂