Late night coming home on the metro and 9 minutes to wait for a train, the platform full of people, something on the tracks caught my eye: A little mouse crawling around the rails. And another. Three little mice crawling around. I watched with amusement and found myself thinking mice are so much cuter than rats.
This sighting was well timed as I'd read a story just that morning about the rats and mice taking over the Supreme Court building due to recent construction in the area. One woman, who didn't want to be identified for fear of losing her job, claimed to put glue traps around her desk and put her feet on a box under her desk. She was afraid a mouse or rat would come close and she would stand up and scream in fear only to be shot by the armed guards. Doesn't sound like a very inviting place to work. Plus, with that detail, certainly her superiors would be able to determine who she was--just look for the nervous one with her feet in a box. But more interestingly, how did this fear of rat and mice develop?
I'm not sure I ever had the fear. I grew up having mice and rats as pets. I preferred the mice--they were cuter. I haven't enjoyed them as much since developing a severe allergy to them. Before that, though, I had many mice (litters, even) and rats. They were sweet companion animals. Some met tragic and unintended deaths (I once stepped on a mouse I was taking outside for a walk), one lost its tail (tug of war with my older brother--the mouse lost, my brother got its tail), one rat named Julius Cheeser had a huge tumor on its leg, but all were beloved members of the family.
Now the only rats I see are running around the streets at night, scampering in bushes and ground cover. I read an article yesterday about a 9-pound rat. Something imported from somewhere and living in . . . was it Florida? A friend tells me anything will survive there. I'm not sure having a cat in the house would do the trick for keeping 9 pound rats away.
When I worked for Modern Marvels I did research for a show on rats. Mostly it pertained to tests being carried out on them, such as a male birth control pill and transplants. Rats have an interesting place in the western world. We buy them as pets, hate them as pests, feed them to other pets, and ask them test drive the latest medical whatever. Considering all they do for us, how can you not love the cute, fuzzy, little creatures? Or at least respect them. No doubt they're better at city living than most humans.