Rats drinking milk in Karni Mata Temple, India.
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As with pigs, Western culture assumes that rats are in essence unclean, and certainly unsanitary, by nature. But in both cases, we have done these intelligent animals an injustice. We house pigs in mud wallows; left to themselves, they would live clean and dry, as we see when they become feral. Rats live among our refuse because that is where they can make a living in relative safety; in nature, they too tend toward a far cleaner, seed- and grain-centered rustic existence.
Some of us know better than to accept the traditional stereotypes of our society, for in childhood — and, in a few cases, in adulthood — we have come to know and appreciate one or more pet rats.
Girl with two pet rats.
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It’s refreshing, for one who learned French with such enlightening standard phrases as “Je detest les rats” (“I detest rats”), to see that there is a place where some lucky rats may find sanctuary, although, as a former rat keeper, I would suggest a diet containing more nuts, seeds and grain, and less milk.
I’m also a bit nonplussed by the dead pigeon. But that’s not the rats’ fault.
Karni Mata temple.