Monday, October 1, 2012

Rats


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.

With Imagination,

Professor Watermelon

The word of the day is “infestation”. Here is the definition: a harassing or troubling invasion.

Photo Credit: Sarah

20 comments:

  1. kodar: what if a rat was struck by lightning and became RADITION RAT?

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  2. Brady Sumners comment: what if a rat could eat a car? What if a rat could shoot lasers out of its eyes?

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    1. Hello Brady! Rats do eat just about anything! I'd love to read a story about a rat who eats a car, though! Great Job!

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  3. Dear Professor Watermelon,

    What if a rat become a millionaire by writing a bestseller?

    What if the rat wanted to be an person, so its fairy god mother granted its wish?

    What if a pet rat got lost in NYC and couldn't find its way back to its owner?

    What if a rat died and spent its "ghost-life" tricking and scaring other rats?

    What if a rat at the "Rat Temple" in India bit a person (killing them) and got caught, so it had to go to court?

    What if a rat spent its life trying to make a mark on the world. To let everyone know that he is a rat that did something special?

    What if a rat entered his second life and he started remembering bits of his life and started trying to finish the mission he was supposed to before?




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    1. Shreya! These are fantastic WHAT IF's! Any one of these could become a GREAT story!

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  4. Sorry, I forgot to put my name on the blog I posted with about 7-8 "What if..."
    -Shreya (6th)

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  5. This is a paragraph on the "Rat Temple" AKA "Karni Mata Temple"

    The Karni Mata temple in Deshnok, Delhi, India is a temple dedicated to rats. The people believe that they are decedents of Karni Mata. They also believe that when a person dies they are re-born as rats. At this temple over 15,000 rats roam free inside and outside the temple. Here they are allowed to do anything they want. Taste the food people will eat, climb on people, etc... There is even a priest to look after them. He believes that the rats are his fathers, grandparents and relatives. It may seem hard to clean up after all these rats, yes it is. That's why there are rat dropping everywhere. But the people do not care. Whether your ancestors are rats or not, the people believe it...
    -Shreya (6th)

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    1. I found this to be quite amazing, and I'm happy that you were inspired to share this, Shreya! I want to go to "Rat Temple" some day and see this with my own eyes!

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  6. -What if a rat was as big as a dinosaur?
    -What if a rat was as small as a centipede?
    -What if a rat had long legs and could really fast?
    -What if a rat could fly?
    -What if a rat could talk like humans?
    -What if a rat could live in the water?
    -What if a rat could breathe fire like a dragon?
    -What if a rat was the king of the world?
    -What if a rat went to school and was smarter than humans?
    -What if a rat could paint, knit sweaters and do arts?
    -What if a rat could play with kids and do sports like tennis?
    -What if a rat could climb trees and other stuff like a beanstalk?

    - Amar

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    Replies
    1. The GIANT Ratosaurus! Great WHAT IF's, Amar!

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  7. What if a rat joined an army?
    What if a rat was a Football player?
    What if a rat fought in the Civil War?
    What if a rat invented really cool devices?
    What if a rat ate its whole colony?

    Ethan B

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    1. I'm intrigued by the Civil War Rat... Hmmmmmm. Great Job, Ethan!

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  8. Nic schmitt -

    What if a rat fell and blew up leaving a hole to the center of the earth?

    What if a rat became evil and tried to rule the world?

    What if a rat became 75 times bigger and terrorized all of humankind!?!?

    What if a rat walked, talked and was a great sword fighter?

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    Replies
    1. Hello Nic! Have you ever heard of Pinky and the Brain? They are lab mice, but also want to take over the world. Great JOB!

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinky_and_the_Brain

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  9. The Rat Group
    There was once a secret club called TRG (The Rat Group). TRG was a club for incredible rat ninjas. TRG would only let rats with the ninja pass to enter the club. Well, there was a little mouse who really wanted to be in TRG but didn't have a ninja pass. Everyday he would ask the TRG if he could join, but they never let him. This little mouse's name was Togo. He knew how to get a ninja pass but he knew he couldn't do it. When Togo was 14 he decided to try out for the ninja pass. You needed to go through a really hard obstacle course and then he would have to battle a ninja! So when he entered the obstacle course he just ran. He ran and ran until he saw the winning flag. He was just about to touch it when a hidden platform shot him back to the start. Then knives started shooting at him at supersonic speed. Togo grabbed one of the knives and slashed the others away. Instantly the path cleared and he steeped into the winning flag. He had cleared the obstacle course! Suddenly the floor started shaking beneath him. Togo was lifted up into the air and put in a battle stadium. And there was the ninja. Togo ran up and grabbed a sword. "I'm ready" Togo growled. He attacked quickly, but the ninja was fast. The ninja dodged and attacked. Togo fell back into the obstacle course. He hit a spring and bounced back up. He flew so high that he touched the clouds. When he came back down he had landed on the ninja! "And the winner is... Togo!" Said the rat referee. Then Togo was awarded with the Ninja Pass! He was able to join TRG and had lots of fun!
    The End

    By Ethan B

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    1. Great Story, Ethan! I love the "TRG". Great way to use the MUSE and your Imagination!

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  10. Dancing with Disney Stars

    Albert the rat lived in LA near Disneyland. His mom was a huge rat, as big as a human and Albert was tall as well. On Albert’s 10th birthday, all of them went to Disneyland. After going on all the rides and playing all the games, Albert and his parents went to the Rat World area. There they sat down to see a show called ‘Dancing with Disney Stars’. The first 15 minutes was awesome – Mickey and Minnie did some real nice mouse dances. Then Mickey slipped and twisted his ankle – oh no! They would have to stop the show but there were so many people watching. An announcer asked for volunteers to fill in for Mickey. Since it was Albert’s birthday, he got selected. During intermission, they taught him some cool dance moves. The 2nd half started and the curtain went up again. Albert did a great job with all of Mickey’s dances. His final dance to the latest Korean, World hit ‘Gangnam Style’ had the audience clapping for a long time. Everyone was so proud of Albert for saving the show. It was his best birthday ever!

    - Amar

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  11. Sleazy and the Red Dragons – Part 3

    A million years had gone by since the Red Dragons beat Sleazy and his evil gang of space grizzlies in a tennis tournament with the help of the Imagination Cap. The Cap now belongs to Amar who won it at the Creative Writing Auctin and wears it everynight. It was time for another competition between the evil and good gangs to decide who would rule the universe for the next million years. The event was going to be an Eating Contest.

    Since rats can eat almost everything, Sleazy took the form of a rat. The Red Dragons selected Albert the huge rat from LA to represent them. The first course – breakfast arrived. Both rats gobbled up the scrambeled eggs in no time. How about some Mac-n-Cheese – no problems there. Albert and Sleazy were going head to head. Next was a mixed salad of raw beets and celery – no amount of salad dressing made it taste good. They just swallowed it down with a gallon of water like bad medicine. Desert was peanut butter sandwiches that rats love and the two kept going at it. Sleazy saw that Albert was not about to give up. So he pulled a trick and tried to slip some peppermint in Alberts plate (rats hate the smell). But the refree had the eyesight of an American Crow and immediately spotted Sleazy. Yellow Card. This was second one (first one was in part 1) – ‘You are disqualified’ said the referee while his manager ran on to the field to disagree with the decision. But it was too late the Red Dragons had won again!

    - Amar

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  12. What if a rat took over the Empire State Building?
    What if a rat took over the space needle?
    What if a rat took over the Lincoln memorial?

    Find this out on Ryan Thain's book
    The rat clan

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