December 20, 2016

"They're just too damned smart. It's getting harder and harder to kill 'em."



"A lot of the film is definitely delivered with an air of indulgent shock value..."
... the dissection scenes, in which we are forced to witness a series of disgusting parasites and larva extracted from the rats’ bodies, are entirely cringeworthy and repugnant, and you may be left wondering why we had to witness this up close when we’ve already been informed of how resilient these rodents are.

If you enter this film with the optimism that perhaps it’s going to change your perspective on rats, like many other animal-based documentaries have, you will unfortunately be very, very disappointed....
Good. There's too much sentimentality about animals. Might as well skew some things the other way. I think it accords more dignity to the animal to present them as heartless survivors. As long as you don't anthropomorphize and cause us to hate people.

61 comments:

Michael K said...

I am not aware that "rat" was a positive term for a long time. Maybe 500 years.

Scott McGlasson said...

My heebies have definitely been jeebied.

Curious George said...

Rats. The punchline for a Dirty Ernie joke.

RightIsRight said...

The best thing for rat control is releasing packs of Chihuahua's.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Good. There's too much sentimentality about animals. ...As long as you don't anthropomorphize and cause us to hate people.

Meh. There's too much sentimentality about people, too.

Brando said...

We don't want a pro-rat perspective! We want a "how can we get rid of more rats" perspective.

We don't have any rats in our house (and haven't seen one on the street since we left the cities, where it's not uncommon) but we do have a small and fast mouse that pops up. Apparently the traps haven't caught it yet, though we clean a lot and keep food well sealed. I don't really mind the mouse, but wonder if a mouse in the house might lead to snakes.

madAsHell said...

Where's Michael Jackson when you need him?

n.n said...

My cat, a finely-tuned rodent aborting machine, disagrees.

robother said...

Dogs and rats are the mammal species that have most closely co-evolved with homo sapiens. Dogs are our early warning/hunting helpers (and earliest hamburger helpers in times of need) and rats are the clean-up crew (including disposing of us, e.g., plagues).

roadgeek said...

"Where's Michael Jackson when you need him?"

Are you referring to "Willard", and it's sequel, "Ben"? Awesome movies to this ten-year old.

Clayton Hennesey said...

As long as you don't anthropomorphize and cause us to hate people.

But what about that problem of white people, UW-Madison? Aren't they sort of just like rats, omnipresent, thinking everything is theirs for the taking?

http://www.thecollegefix.com/post/30434/

R.A. Crankbait said...

I thought it sounded like a documentary on the Clinton Foundation.

Joe said...

Despite rats not being a "good" mammal, I think modern over sentimentality of mammals still helps the rat.

PB said...

And the federal government just authorized the operators of wind farms the license to kill up to 4500 bald eagles a year...

Chris said...

The solution to rats is more cats.

Michael K said...

"rats are the clean-up crew (including disposing of us, e.g., plagues)."

There is some evidence, I believe, that rats are a more recent cohabitant, Mice are often depicted and mentioned in pre-medieval sources. Rats may have been a later addition to Europe's pest population. It may be that the brown rat came later and the black rat may have been with us longer.

Roughcoat said...

I don't think we anthropomorphize animals enough. Over the past decade breakthroughs in research on animal cognition and behavior is revealing that the higher animals -- mammals -- are more like us, and that we are more like them, than had been previously been thought. In particular the research in this regard being done with dogs is astonishing is terms of what we're discovering. I'm interested in this research because I own and work with border collies, generally regarded as the smartest dogs. My interest is practical: I want to find ways of working/communicating more effectively with them. But it is also fascinating, gratifying, and heartwarming.

And anyway, anthropomorphizing animals doesn't cause me to hate people. People cause me to hate people.

Roughcoat said...

Also: I love Pizza Rat. Pizza Rat is my hero.

Titus said...

I have been watching David Attenborough's nature programs on Netflix-abs fab, btw. The program about the mating habits of animals was fascinating. The males are generally the pretty colorful ones, and the females are plain and gray. Seals are fucking mean when they are horny. There was this blow fish that basically constructed some amazing castle in the water that took like weeks just so the female could lay her eggs. The female inspected the entire castle before she would lay her eggs while he splewed on them.

They did an episode on animals and cities and highlighted the rat infestation at restaurants in NYC. It was the most disgusting thing I saw, besides The Human Centipede I and II.

Michael K said...

"The solution to rats is more cats."

This reminds me of the story of a biological perpetual motion system. You construct a rat farm and a cat farm near each other,

You sell cat skins and feed the carcasses to the rats. The rats are fed to the cats.

So the rats eat the cats and the cats eat the rats and you get the skins for free.

The weak point is developing a market for cat skins.

Michael K said...

"the research in this regard being done with dogs is astonishing is terms of what we're discovering."

The evolution of the dog is interesting. Wolves are unable to understand men and what we want. Dogs have evolved a good intuition about humans and understand us much much better,

Border collies are very smart but so are basset hounds. The difference is that border collies love to do stuff and basset hounds could not give a shit. There is a great cartoon of a basset hound mother and puppy. The mother is saying to the puppy, "They throw these balls and expect us to do something about. It's a mystery."

Arthur James said...

I like the idea of nature against nature. A cat is not enough. A good terrier (in the video), Siberian Husky or Australian Sheepdog, a dog that thrives on hunting, delights in eliminating a rat population. Man's best friend ensures a clean environment. Hit them with the dogs.

Roughcoat said...

Some wolves understand men, and adapt. Thus, dogs.

Border collies love to work -- they love the mental challenge, they love to figure things out, and they love order. If we all had the border collie's desire to work the world would be a vastly more productive place.

If border collies had opposable thumbs they'd rule the world.

mikee said...

Patrick O'Brian, in his third book of the Aubrey/maturin series, "Surprise," sends his Napoleonic Era British ship's captain on a long cruise to the East Indies from England. During a longish time becalmed in the doldrums, with food running low and water needing replenishment, the captain asks a young midshipman about the rats the young gentlemen buy from other sailors, to supplement their diet. The mid answers that it is appalling, the "millers" cost three pence each. Later on the same cruise, there are no rats to be had for any price.

mikee said...

If border collies had opposable thumbs, we'd all be locked up in a pen with gates that we could not open.

Roughcoat said...

Hit them with the

And coyotes. In Cook County Illinois coyotes are encouraged to reside and breed as means of combating the burgeoning rat population. There are now an estimated 5000 Coyotes in Cook County. There is a known clan of coyotes living in Chicago's Lincoln Park and another in one of the big North Side Catholic cemeteries. They are very effective ratters and they really do not much bother humans or their pets (with some exceptions re pets, of course). I live in Chicago suburb next to a forest preserve and I can hear them calling, sometimes, at night. I've seen them from time to time. My border collies are very interested in them but they give my BCs a wide berth.

Incidentally, coyotes and dogs can mate and produce fertile offspring.

Roughcoat said...

If border collies had opposable thumbs, we'd all be locked up in a pen with gates that we could not open.

Except for when they'd bring us out to march in lockstep and count cadence.

I admit, they have fascistic tendencies.

Part of their charm. And effectiveness in managing livestock.

Big Mike said...

Rats actually make very bright and affectionate pets. They don't stink and are easy to litter box train. Their only problem is their short lives. Three years, tops.

Big Mike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael K said...

"The mid answers that it is appalling, the "millers" cost three pence each. Later on the same cruise, there are no rats to be had for any price."

The same exchange is in one of the Hornblower books by Forrester,

"My border collies are very interested in them but they give my BCs a wide berth. "

Coyotes are very fond of cats. Outdoor cats have short lives in southern California. One woman was standing talking to her neighbor with her little dog at her feet. A coyote, which she thought was a dog, came trotting up the street, grabbed her dog and took off.

My basset hound, when I lived in the mountains, came trotting by chasing a coyote, He was probably big enough to defend himself but the coyotes hunt in packs and have been known to send out a female in heat to lure a dog to the pack around the corner.

Winston, my basset, looked relieved when I called him back. He was big, 85 pounds, but probably at risk with a pack.

CJinPA said...

The worse part is when Spurlock crams nothing but tiny Big Macs down the rats' throats for 30 days straight and then acts surprised when the rodents aren't well.

CJinPA said...

SKINNER The lizards are a godsend.

LISA But isn't that a bit shortsighted? What happens when we're overrun by lizards?

SKINNER No problem. We simply unleash wave after wave of Chinese needle snakes. They'll wipe out the lizards.

LISA But aren't the snakes even worse?

SKINNER Yes, but we're prepared for that. We've lined up a fabulous type of gorilla that thrives on snake meat.

LISA Then we're stuck with gorillas!

SKINNER No, that's the beautiful part. When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death.

mikee said...

The Hornblower books by Forrester, the Aubrey/Maturin books by O'Brian, the Sharpe books by whoever that was, they all have similarities beyond their common historical era. Almost like earlier writers had an influence on later ones, or hey, were just mined for literary gold. The dirty rats.

Rick said...

I think this is my worst rat nightmare.

Disturbing Content


Yancey Ward said...

Rodents of unusual intelligence? I don't think they exist.

Alex said...

Aren't rat terriers susceptible to parasites? You would think in the process of killing the rat that parasites can be transmitted during the bite.

Roughcoat said...

Michael K -

I thought Coyotes mostly hunted in mated pairs. I lived in Colorado for the better part of two decades and saw plenty of coyotes but never saw hunting packs. Pairs and solitaries but no groups. In fact I think the mated pairs kick their offspring out of the den just as soon as they mature because they prefer not live in packs. Of course at night in Colorado bunches of coyote would congregate and howl up a storm but that wasn't hunting, that was singing. When I was down in Durango I heard three different groups at widely separated points singing to each other. Noisy, yes, but I liked it.

An 85 lb basset?! Yikes! That's a lot of basset hound!

Roughcoat said...

So far only a few rare instances, in Cook County of coyote predation against dogs. Cats, I dunno. The Cook County wildlife commissioner or whatever he's called has explained that coyotes are to be tolerated in any case. They tag 'em and keep track of them but do not undertake to eradicate them or even limit their numbers. In fact, as mentioned, they are encouraged to breed. I guess they're really worried about the rat problem. I heard a radio interview with the commissioner. He said it's only a matter of time before wolves infiltrate into Cook County and he believe a few are already here. He said they come down from Wisconsin. Which prompted one caller to say that nothing good ever comes down from Wisconsin and that we ought to build a wall at the Illinois border to keep 'em out -- Cheesehead wolves and people alike.

madAsHell said...

Are you referring to "Willard", and it's sequel, "Ben"? Awesome movies to this ten-year old.

Of course!! I'll guess that half the responses on the Althouse blog are statements steeped in obscure 60's, 70's trivia.

Michael K said...

"I thought Coyotes mostly hunted in mated pairs. "

When I lived in Leisure World in Orange County, I would walk Winston at 5 AM when I was going to work. We would almost every morning, see a pack, or group if you prefer, of 5 or 6 coyotes together which would be watching us. That was a very built up area of homes and condos.

In the mountains I did not see packs but heard them at night.

Roughcoat said...

Michael K -

Interesting. I stand corrected. Five/six certainly qualifies as a pack. I wonder if they all live together, as wolves do, or if they pair off into separate dens at the end of a long busy day of coyote mischief-making. I'll give it a Goog and find out.

Here in Cook County, they seem to hunt in pairs or singly. I've never seen more than two together hereabouts. But, come to think, in Colorado they would definitely congregate in groups, at least at night. That said, even in Colorado, during the day, I never saw more than two together, say, loping across a field or some such. Maybe the size of their groups is contingent on environmental factors, such as human population numbers and density, and the availability of prey. Now I'm curious. Got to find out about this.

walter said...

#ratslivesmatter

Roughcoat said...

My border collies are certainly ambivalent toward the coyotes. I almost think the BCs look down their long noses at Coyotes, regarding their feral cousins as delinquents and ne'er-do-wells -- shiftless, scruffy, unmotivated. "Get a job!": you can almost hear the Border Collies saying it.

walter said...

Oh..methinks not having a human to feed them makes them plenty motivated.

Quaestor said...

From the trailer: If we were to disappear, the rats would take over or something like that.

The dynamics of co-evolution would suggest the opposite.

rhhardin said...

Vicki Hearne _Adam's Task_, the essays on Washoe and How To Say Fetch, will give some reasons to anthropomorphize more, not less.

dott said...

I really have no serious problem
killing rats if need be. Only one proved
to be a challenge. I just had to change
the bait for that one.
I did have a real serious problem
trying to get a giant
mango tree that was attracting them
cut down though.

Michael K said...

I've had pet rats. The biggest problem is their nibbling. They will eat your clothes.

Quaestor said...

mikee wrote: During a longish time becalmed in the doldrums, with food running low and water needing replenishment, the captain asks a young midshipman about the rats the young gentlemen buy from other sailors, to supplement their diet.

Long before the RN began to combat scurvy by supplying their sailors with salted limes, sauerkraut, and the like, canny sea dogs had already developed a folk wisdom about eating rats in survival situations

We all have been taught from childhood the importance of getting adequate amounts of vitamin C in the daily diet for good health; what they don't typically explain is why. All mammals have a metabolic requirement for the antioxidant vitamin C, however most species have the ability to synthesize it from precursor nutrients. Those that don't have the ability are typically predators that get their needs met through the tissues of their prey. Notable non-predatory genera that lack the facility to synthesize the vitamin are Homo and Pan, i.e. humans and chimps. Evidently at some point a common ancestor of both genera lost that ability, while more distantly related primates like macaques and baboons retained it. The mutation wasn't immediately detrimental because Earth's climate was much warmer and wetter 7 million years, with subtropical forests extending as far north as Latitude 40 from the Atlantic to the Sea of Japan. At that time the Old World was the real Planet of the Apes with fruits and tubers rich in ascorbic acid available year round. However, as the climate got cooler and dryer the range of the apes, including our own ancestors, contracted severely. As fruit became seasonal the apes became extinct through most of their late Miocene range, with two isolated pockets remaining, equatorial Africa and southeast Asia. The mutation that lost us the ability to synthesize vitamin C doomed us to live only where suitable fruit was constantly available. However, our ancestor, Australopithecus afarensis or whatever, found the reprieve to that death sentence by eating meat habitually. Pan troglodytes is a meat-eating species as well, but not nearly often enough to make them able to escape the tropical forests.

Back to the rats. Rats are typical mammalian herbivores. They eat a wide variety of plant material, and they synthesize vitamin C in their livers. If you eat enough rat liver you can get enough vitamin C to at least ward off the worst effects of scurvy.

Quaestor said...

Typo correction: 7 million years ago.

Arthur James said...

Ok Quaestor I am impressed. A simple question. How do I get these rats out of my home here in Cleveland Heights?

Rhythm and Balls said...

Good. There's too much sentimentality about animals. Might as well skew some things the other way. I think it accords more dignity to the animal to present them as heartless survivors. As long as you don't anthropomorphize and cause us to hate people.

Yes. Insufficient contempt for non-human life is a real problem right now.

Lady, what the f*%$ is wrong with you? Isn't there some rocky asteroid orbiting the solar system that you'd prefer to live on? Not many animals out there you'd have to "worry" about.

Quaestor said...

How do I get these rats out of my home here in Cleveland Heights?

An exclusive diet of ratatouille... with extra rat.

Arthur James said...

Quaestor do you want to argue?

Arthur James said...

I was disappointed the other night when so much talk of Zsa Zsa Gabor was expelled and never was Gabor Szabo mentioned. How can Hungarian artists be discussed while leaving out Gabor Szabo?

Arthur James said...

This is Gabor Szabo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibhh_z6pG6c This is Gabor Szabo

Jon Ericson said...

Two thumbs up for Gábor Szabó.

Yancey Ward said...

"How do I get these rats out of my home here in Cleveland Heights?"

Tell them there is an Obama rally in a nearby town.

mikee said...

Since Questor posted the link to the best ever rat eating scene, Monty Python's classic, I feel obliged to present another rodentivore masterpiece: from the movie Never Cry Wolf, a scientist studying wolves in the arctic starts on a diet of field mice.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKMBk3js7e0

Deb said...

Thanks a pantload, Rick @2:53 for that link. I can count on nightmares for years. ;-)

Seeing those terriers in the film: I had a Scotty years ago that eviscerated an opossum. Scattered that unlucky creature all over the back yard.

Fernandinande said...

Rick said...
I think this is my worst rat nightmare.
Disturbing Content


OMG GIANT RATS !!!

The UK press is obsessed with giant rats, supplying plenty of phony, purposely misleading wide-angle pictures but never one with a tape measure or a scale.

S. Africa has the same regular-sized (small) rats in their cities as are found in just about any other city:

There are two main types of rats that cause concern in South Africa. The Brown Rat (or common rat) [17 ounces] and the Black Rat [7 ounces], which was introduced to this country are a common pest in both private homes and businesses."
Or here.

OMG !!! THE UK PRESS !!!!