The creepy crawling rodents that have girls and boys, women and men shrieking around the world and haunting murophobiac’s nightmares must have some friendly qualities, right? There are a few people out there who keep them as pets, after all.
Besides the common thoughts that come to mind when thinking of rodents like ruining your floorboards, loudly clicking their nails on wood, stealing crumbs, and making a mess, here are a few reasons how rodents (debatably) benefit the world:
Rats are used as test subjects in science labs around the globe, and they work very well as such. In 2006, a university in Israel created a brain chip made out of rat neurons. Also, did you know that recently mice and rats are being modified to grow skin and cartilage for humans? It is quite the controversy, but there is no question if rodents in the lab are helpful or not – it is clear that they are!
Although rodents prefer to pick at junk food and sometimes eat their own feces for nutrition (no, they don’t eat fancy cheese), they do offer some wholesome fuel to other species. Owls, hawks, snakes and plenty members of the weasel family eat rats in their daily diets, along with people in Southeast Asia, Africa and China. Of course scrumptious snacks benefit select cultures!
In China, the rat is one of the twelve animal zodiacs hinting that people born in the years 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972… (and every twelfth year thereafter) have qualities such as resourceful, creative, honest, fashionable, ambitious and clever.
In India, Lord Ganesha rides a mouse as his vehicle, and in the Rajasthan’s temple Karni Mata, over 20,000 rats freely roam around. Hindus believe that these rats guard the shrine and are reincarnations of deities.
They’re quite interesting creatures.
When you look beyond the numerous diseases that the rats’ fleas have caused and get over the initial fear of rodents, they are quite fascinating creatures. Like frogs, they never get sick, and their tails miraculously cool them down so they never sweat. In a room with no light, they can determine where food is within 50 thousandths of a second, and they can survive a fall from five flights! They can also survive being flushed down the toilet, can swim over a half of a mile and tread water for three whole days. Speaking of water, they can go longer than a camel without it, and can also build up immunity against poisons over generations.
There is approximately one rat to every human in the US, although they don’t all live nearby human populations but often in deserts and marshlands. Since they are here to stay for a while, it’s helpful to look on the bright side of how they benefit the world and learn a few more interesting facts about the incomparable species. Next time World Rat Day comes around (April 4), take some time to learn more about your fellow earthlings!