Friday, March 04, 2011

Contributions of rats to mankind


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It's easy to look down on these creatures as pests, here are some reasons why rats deserve respect and less of the persecution that they get from us everyday...






As laboratory animals

They are heroes for their contributions to science, particularly in the field of medicine. But unfortunately, lab rats don’t get much respect, especially because their handlers merely see them as expendable assets. Many of these rat heroes have to endure cruel experimentations without anesthesia (even if not necessary or required by law) such as those conducted by Mars Candy (maker of M&Ms, Skittles, etc.).
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Hero Rats: helping to save lives

On to the brighter side of things: their acute sense of smell and lightweight frame make them ideal specimen for sniffing out mine bombs in Africa. Not only that, they could be trained to detect the presence of diseases in humans. Now that’s one more reason for us to give them respect!

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As food 

In most cultures, eating of rats is frowned upon (thank God for us rat lovers though). But in others they are acceptable up to some degree. (e.g. India, Vietnam, Thailand, China, France [1] , Polynesia) 



Commonly referred to as ‘household deer’ in China, rat’s meat costs 4x more than chicken meat, and is consumed primarily to prevent baldness. (How about having a bald rat for dinner?) Their meat is considered clean because they were farm raised. [2]





As pets

In many parts of the world, fancy rat associations have been formed to establish standards, to organize events and to promote a positive image for rats. Some of these organizations include the American Fancy Rat and Mouse Association (US) and the National Fancy Rat Society (UK).




Compared to other rodents, they are more bonded with their owners and rarely bite. They can be compared to dogs, but in a smaller frame. They are also capable of cuteness overload...






Art, literature, media

Fortunately, there's a good number of literature portraying rats in a positive light. The Disney-Pixar film ‘Ratatouille’ (2007) is a highly recommended film for introducing people, especially children, to rats.





The painting below was made by John James Audubon 
‘Brown Rats’ (1852)



A bronze rat from the Meiji Period of Japan was being sold online.
Its age, according to the seller was from 1900. 










LET’S GIVE RATS THE
RESPECT
LONG OVERDUE!











Bibliography
[1] King, T. (2003 March 4). The French eat rats. Retrieved February 15, 2011 from http://www.lawrence.com/weblogs/foodways/2003/mar/04/the_french/ 

[2] Hayes, J. (2010 April) Weird foods in China: rats as food in china. Facts and Details. Retrieved February 15, 2011 from http://factsanddetails.com/china.php?itemid=146&catid=11&subcatid=73

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