In the last Weekly MUSE we learned all about the magnificent American Crow. And while learning about the crow, I mentioned another creature that lives very closely to humans – RATS! Creative Writers, we’ve found another MUSE! And this MUSE is not for the faint hearted.
After humans, Rats are the most successful mammals on the planet. The common rat lives on all continents except Antarctica, where it is just too cold and there’s not enough food. This is the same reason there isn’t a large human population there, too.
The brown rat is the most common rat and sometimes goes by the name of street rat, sewer rat, wharf rat, or Norway rat. These rats are omnivores, which means that they will eat both plants and other animals. In fact, rats will eat almost ANYTHING! One study shows that their favorite foods are scrambled eggs and macaroni and cheese. Their least favorite foods are raw beets and celery. Sounds like a lot of kids I know (wink).
Sadly, rats are known to carry at least 20 different diseases that harm humans. In fact, rats are responsible for killing a fourth of the world’s population in the 1300’s. This was called the “Black Death”. Rats follow humans for food, and this was no different centuries ago. While people traveled and traded goods by boat and wagon, rats went with them. This spread the Bubonic Plague. Come to find out, the disease was carried in the rats’ blood, and fleas passed the disease from the rats to humans. GROSS!
Today, people are still very cautious when dealing with rat infestations. And cities routinely keep a check on rat populations so that disease is controlled. Take a look at this video to see a home rat infestation. While a rat infestation is a serious problem, this video made me LAUGH OUTLOUD! Take a look.
Since rats carry so many harmful diseases, people tend to think of rats as “dirty”. But not the people of India who worship the rat goddess, Karni Mata. Take a look at this video, and tour the Temple of the Rats.
The rat is also celebrated in the Chinese Zodiac. Check here to see what animal represents your birth year. The last YEAR OF THE RAT was 2008. Do you know anyone born that year?
As you can see… rats are feared, rats are avoided, and rats are celebrated. Some people even keep these furry rodents as pets. But these rats have been specially bred for human companionship. If you want to know more about keeping a pet rat, visit Petco.
Now, I can’t end this post without mentioning my favorite rat character from a book. That would be Templeton from Charlotte’s Web. Take alook at this movie trailer to see this sassy guy.
And we can’t forget about Remy from the Disney/Pixar animated film, Ratatouille! As a matter of fact, rats show up as characters in a lot of children’s books. Who is your favorite rat character? And, of course, I would love to see what kind of rat character you can come up with (wink).
With this new knowledge, what kind of story could you write? Maybe these WHAT IF questions will help you get started.
WHAT IF your main character was a rat who wanted to perform on the show “Dancing with the Stars”?
WHAT IF a rat ran for President of the United States? What if he/she won?
WHAT IF the Curiosity Rover found rats on MARS?
The possibilities are endless, and please leave your own what if questions in the comment section below. I’d love to see what you come up with.
So, grab a cup of hot cocoa, a pencil and a piece of paper, and let’s begin. With your imagination, we can go anywhere. I look forward to seeing where you take us.
The word of the day is “infestation”. Here is the definition: a harassing or troubling invasion.
Photo Credit: Sarah
Photo Credit: Sarah