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Creature Feature: Running with the Rat Pack

It’s the Year of the Rat, and rat-ficionados are clear: Domestic rats suffer from their wild brethren’s bad rep

It’s the Year of the Rat, and rat-ficionados are clear: Domestic rats suffer from their wild brethren’s bad rep

Do rats make you shiver? You’re showing your biases! Once you learn more about these intelligent and affectionate little guys, you may become a convert. OLEG KOZLOV/
ISTOCKPHOTO.COM
Next time you feel like you’re tired of the rat race, think about how exhausting it is to be a member of it.

Those bright-eyed fellows nibbling away in your small animal room are the latest participants in a relationship that’s been going on for thousands of years—one that’s been pretty volatile. While shelter staff bemoan the fickleness that causes people to discard their pets, the rats who end up at your shelter are living the high life in comparison not only with their ancestors, but with millions of their wild cousins.

Human-rat cohabitation, and the accompanying domestic disputes, have been going on since around the time the first nomadic tribespeople pitched a tent, built a fire, and stopped wandering long enough to plant some seeds, grow some crops, and store them for later consumption.

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