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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Rat Lowdown

It seems that few people appreciate rats, primarily because we tend to see them in the creepiest places. Like the sewer. Not a lovely spot unless you are pretty low on the totem pole. The sewer rat however, comes from Europe and has followed civilization around the world. They have made an art form out of living off the refuse of humans. It is probably among the least attractive members of this class of rodents. Note the lovely naked, scaly tail.


My wife, daughter and I went to see the new version of Charlotte's Web and I was surprised to see the sympathetic treatment of "Templeton" the rat. Sure he comes across as a self-centered lout, but even he eventually succumbs to the charms of Charlotte and Wilbur and spends time selflessly guarding the spider's egg sac. Templeton appears to be a European brown rat, the same species that haunts Portland's nether regions. However he has the curious habit of collecting trinkets and other curious items. This behavior is more reflective of the pack rat.
Pack rats are native to North America, and I recently photographed one in an abandoned shed in NE Oregon scurrying across a shelf with a rusty old turpentine can.

63006Bsh1 copy

Please note the furry tail. While I wouldn't want one in my house, I think these little fellows are bit more gifted on the "cute" end of the scale. Feel free to disagree.


Lindsey said...

I wouldn't mind the sewer rats so much if they would just stay in the sewers. A few summers ago, though, one took a wrong turn and ended up in my toilet bowl! True story. (I live in SE Portland.)

Your photos are magnificent! I've added you to my RSS feed.

Lisa Kline said...

I have two pet rats (rattus norvegicus) and they are marvelous animals. Very social and very smart. Most of the rats I have kept as pets love to collect and hide things. I think this is a common behavior among most rat species.

Anyway, I really enjoy your photography. It's amazing.

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Details About Me

Portland, Oregon, United States
Husband, Father, Student Of Natural History, Photographer