When I think of rats I mainly think of the gross rodents carrying the Bubonic plague. I never really connected how rats domestication and alterations over time paralleled with urbanization and human development. Burt talks about how powerful and destructive rats can be and that the major way to control their populations is because they end up self destructing and eating their own. Rats and mice show up in historical/biblical/ancient references but are generally considered sewage rodents and not are not cared for like other “cuter”animals. However, there contributions to science and discovery is something we should be very thankful as a species for. “The bioengineered mouse,” Donna Haraway recently wrote, “is simulataneously a metaphor, a technology, and a beast living out its many layered life as best it can.” Indeed, in order for this creature to be able to live its life at all, it must inhabit a technosciencetific reality that is perhaps inevitable, perhaps not-but its most certainly a world of our own making. This was an interesting summary of part of the Rader article because of how humans have redefined and controlled the role of rats. We have almost created a new type of rat altogether, except instead of using it for food/dairy we use it for medial advancements in our own species. Where would science be without the lab rat?
2 thoughts on “Rats”
I definitely find your associations with rats interesting. I agree that rats have a certain picture in my mind, but isn’t it interesting that many of us have this image without ever having seen a real rat?? I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen, as you mention, a rat running into a sewer, other than in movies. These ideas are so greatly intertwined into our culture that we’re not even sure what their origins are anymore. And as you stated, in reality, rats have contributed so much to scientific research. And even in that context, they’re often portrayed in movies as becoming mutants or getting violently ill when treated with a harmful toxin. And the image doesn’t horrify us because they’re only dirty, useless rats, right? I think wrong, as I believe you do, too.
That’s a very good point about most of us not seeing rats in the context we associate them. But, then again, most of us have never been in space to see that the continents are arranged the way we see them on a map, either.