Sir Dusky Brown Rat (Rattus Norvegicus)

by Richard Weaver

aka wharf rat, known to the Romans as Mus maximus,
Big Mouse, is a True Rat. A scrum of rats is a mischief –
a mischief of rats. No explanation required. Some are
commensals, choosing to live near humans for whatever reason.
Infants are kittens or pups. Unmated females, does.
Most male rats answer to Buck, or just Sir. None expect
life to last longer than two winters. Sir DBR has asked
this information be provided before he bares his teeth
and gnaws away at myths, rumors, misconceptions,
and what he considers historical slander. He concedes
his brethren are omnivorous but unable to survive
on islands. Or in Antarctica. And admits his incisors
grow, lovely though they are, as much as 6 inches
a year, and required near constant trimming,
chawing asphalt or creosote-treated railroad ties
are his preferred method for preventing his teeth
from penetrating his brain. Long in the tooth
means a short, painful death, but no more so
than a failed climb up a sewer pipe. Sir DBR smells it
like it is. As long-tailed rats go, he tells no short tales.
His life among the row houses of Baltimore has twice
required he deglove, or shed his outermost skin
to survive. He professes to know nothing about
the Chinese Year of the Rat, preferring to say
humans will eat anything with a sauce and crunchiness.
One of the reasons he never migrated to West Virginia,
the Switzerland of America, or so he claims. Their
penchant for rat soup, he says is offensive to those
whose sensory system can detect gunpowder
and the presence of TB in humans. He admires
Templeton and the Amazing Maurice, but hates
the idea of the late 13th century German Pied Piper,
and argues Lab Rat is speciesism at its worst. Who
can argue since he hears beyond mere human ranges.
And has metacognition. Adaptability. Is ingenuous.
Aggressively seeks to survive. Is altruistic and prosocial.
What more can a rat of modest means do with the life
before him? Such thoughts make his teeth ache.

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