The Rat-King is dead, long live the Rat-King!
If like me you’re a little bit phobic about rats you probably don’t want to read this story about the rat plague afflicting the Myer Building in Sydney, or the swarms of them that rise up out of the foundations every night to take over the Food Court. And you definitely don’t want to read this piece by Sean Wilsey about the rats of New York City. Or hear the story I heard years ago about the tide of rats that swept across the lane behind the old Rex Hotel and into the building opposite when demolition began (apparently it looked like the ground was moving). And you absolutely, positively don’t want to read my Rat-King post again.
We used to keep rats as pets, so I obviously quite like them. I don’t have any affection for wild rats because they’re not tame or hygienic, but they’re very misunderstood animals. The tame ones are really like small cats or dogs, very clean and friendly. And smart; the “some of them can read” thing certainly has a grain of truth to it. The rat-king, probably not so much, although in groups they love to pile on top of each other.
You probably don’t want to hear this, but keeping them as pets makes you notice wild ones more. They’re really everywhere. I’ve seen them in numbers in Hyde Park and Cook and Phillip Park, not to mention the deli section at Coles and in school cafeterias.
My fear of rats is completely irrational, but it doesn’t stop me from seeing either how common they are, or how amazing they are. They are adaptable, smart, relentless, and surprisingly intelligent. Sort of like us.
Actually, I came to say that I read the last post ‘the best sort of review’ this morning, and it had such a lovely and generous tone about it that really stayed with me through a rather difficult morning…but now all I can say is eewwwww…I know they’ve got their place in the universe and all that, but they srsly freak me out.
James, some responses to your rat post:
1. I can’t stand rats. Spiders are fine, snakes I’m not so fond of (though they do have a certain sex appeal, what with all that glittery get-up and all), but rats – nuh, not on your life. You wake in the morning to find a snake or rat on your chest: I’ll take the snake any day.
2. Now I know why I’m becoming less and less fond of Sydney as I get older. Loved growing up there, because I’m 100% sure there were no rats back then (yes, absolutely positive), but it seems the city’s going to seed with this whole rat thing. The party that promises to clean up the place so it resembles the city of my childhood will get my vote in March.
3. I was feeling great about this weekend, but not now, not with rats on the brains. And in the eyes. And on the skin. And…