Thursday, 12 May 2011

the rats are the heroes

I saw this picture and a post  by Dr Sima Barnathia on the Independent blogs.  The animal is a giant African pouched rat, and as you can see because there is a human in the picture too, it is a lot larger than rattus norvegicus, the sewer rat of Europe, ever gets, despite popular myth ("as big as cats" - no, they never are).  Like all rats, these are intelligent, have no objection to social interaction with humans, and can be trained to carry out quite sophisticated tasks for food reward. These African rats make minefields safe.  Yes, really.  They can be trained to locate the mines by scent (all rats have a very acute sense of smell) and are too light to set the mines off.  Although each rat takes about nine months to train, they live for about eight years (the Norway rat lives three at most) and reproduce prolifically - training starts at six weeks, so they are not expensive.  As regular readers know, I have kept Norway rats as pets for many years, but have had none since coming to live in France, for no particular reason.  Time (a) to welcome a couple of rats into my life again (two because they are social animals, same gender for obvious reasons, males are more docile and friendly than females) and (b) to find out if there is a charity or foundation that supports this work (the blog post doesn't link to anything) - if there is I would like to support it.

Can readers help?


Anonymous said...

I'm not into them - but this is such a great pictrue.

The guy looks like Gerry Adams - and have you seen the rat's cute little hands and fingers? And nose?

Anonymous said...

Same as pigs - not half as dirty or disgusting as is thought.

Anonymous said...

Didn't know Gerry Adams fancied fancy rats!!

And what sweet little hands and fingers they do indeed have and noses too. Even if I am terrified of them. Which I am. I am.

I now have four cats and am debating whether or not to go into a fifth.