WHAT TO DO WITH RATS
A fellow prison officer wanted to justify the slow process of encoding of records by complaining that rats ate the electrical cords rendering the entire technical exercise in limbo. Of course, it was an issue better left for the technicians to deal with and immediately repair but to submit it as issue was an amusing concern. Gamely, the officer corps took the matter in earnest.
The presiding officer sought a resolution by volunteering a proposal. He noted that since the rats have manifested their presence in the office, he suggested that all workers in the section to vacate the area and leave the office so that the rats can take over. Another officer stood up and professionally offered an idea. He recommended that a feeding program be provided the rats so that they will be full already and dismiss the idea of munching on the electrical cords.
Dogs look at their master as their god. Cats on the other hand believe that they are looked up by their handlers as a god. Rats are different. They look at man as their equal!
And so when rats invade an area, it is actually like witnessing the troop of Alexander during his army days in the field of Asia minor. Although rats are never armed, their sheer number is enough to strike fear at any intended target. Rats unlike any other mammal do not operate on the basis of territoriality. They just converge where they are and attack at any target they intend to work on.
In India, rats are treasured, respected and even subjected to adoration. There is even one community where they are never disturbed, fed to their full delight as prayerful offertory and held as sacred. In China, rats are even observed for signs of future natural occurrence. In the Philippines however, rats feeding on rice fields are gathered and cooked as delicacies.
In other cultures, a great number of rats foretell war. I remember my mother would throw into a rat hole my newly extracted tooth so that I would grow a good and beautiful tooth.
There are a lot of expressions where the creature is mentioned, poorly and otherwise. There is “only rats jump out of a sinking ship.” There is also, “If you see rats leaving a building, it will soon burn.” And of course, mafia has a warning expressed as “do not rat on your friends.”
Unlike any other animal, rats do not have any breeding season. It reproduces where health and environment allow. It is sexually mature in six weeks. It has an average life span of 20 years and the favourite laboratory testing when trying out a chemical intervention for medical purposes. Rats have almost a similar biological make up as that of man, and most likely, even that of idiosyncrasy.
Whether one is superstitious or not, it is incumbent that we understand the creatures that has been there almost ahead of man and perhaps may live more after the demise of mankind. The rat according to Chinese Zodiac indicates love and sexual compatibility. These qualities however makes humanity transcend its limits and perhaps may hold the key to its perpetuity.