Ah Rats!


Credit Velizar Simeonovski/The Field Museum

I ran across an article a couple of months ago about a new species of rat discovered in the Solomon Islands.  This rat can weigh more than two pounds and grow up to a foot and a half in length.  Apparently, it lives in trees and eats coconuts.  Not only eats them, but cracks open coconuts with its teeth.

Wow, that’s a lot of rat!  I admit, the thought sent a shiver down my spine.  Not that I’m afraid of rats, but because I just don’t like the little rat bastards.  I have a dislike for all rodents, especially rodents that can hold their own against a dog or cat or gets between me and a girl.  Have you ever seen a possum?  Yeah, it’s a marsupial, but it looks like a nasty giant rat.  People around here eat them, and I say good riddance.

I guess my dislike for rodents comes from growing up in a house where the mouse population outnumbered the human residents.  My family lived in a rural area of eastern North Carolina that bordered the woods.  Every winter, the field mice moved in to stay warm, and it was my job to keep them from overrunning the place.  Even with a half-dozen mousetraps, I couldn’t keep up.

For the record, the best way to keep mice out of the house is to seal any openings where they can get in.  I found that putting steel wool in the holes keeps them out.

Maybe because of my time as the official family mouse catcher, I just can’t understand people that actually invite the little pests into their home.  Okay, gerbils are kinda cute, and guinea pigs seem pretty harmless.  Of course, then you have the sugar gliders and flying squirrels.  Before we’re done, there’ll be a whole rodent circus living in the New York sewers along with the alligators and anacondas.

I can almost understand these other “cute” rodents as pets, but who in their right mind would have a rat for a pet?  Can you imagine these coconut eating vermin being walked around the block on a leash? (Laugh if you want, but it’s coming.)  There’ll be special coconut rat food and everything.  Why not something more practical like a pot belly pig.  At least you can make bacon out of it in a crisis. (Oh, did somebody already think of that.)

I didn’t realize that people kept rats as pets until I was about twenty.  Of course, by that age, I had abandoned mouse catching for bigger game—girls.  Girls are a lot harder to catch (and you’re not allowed to use traps or likely to find them in your attic), but I did catch one around that time.  She was pretty, and funny, and made out with me in the back of my friend’s car.  It was a match made in heaven until she invited me back to her apartment to meet her friends.

Wouldn’t you know it, her best friend in the whole world was a rat.  Yes, an actual rat with beady eyes and a long scaly tail.  I remember sitting beside her on the couch, with that ugly rat sitting on her lap being petted like a prized Chihuahua.  She so much wanted us to be friends, while I had visions of a rat trap running through my head, and the beady-eyed bastard could probably smell the mouse blood on my soul.  Have you ever been cock-blocked by a rat?  It does wonders for the self-esteem.

Humans and rats have been in competition for years.  We can’t seem to wipe them out, and you know how I feel about making them pets.  It’s time to find another option.  I say let’s eat them.  The people in my part of the US will eat possum and squirrel.  People in South America eat guinea pigs too.  It wouldn’t have broken my heart if someone had eaten that damn girl-stealing rat bastard either.  I would have lit the fire and turned the spit.  If you ate one of these new giant tree rats would it taste like coconut?  Coconut-braised rat—Now there’s a rat trend I could get behind.