The Great Rat and Pig Discrimination

Rat based discrimination is a real problem. I don’t participate in it and have no time for it. Maybe I’m enlightened, or maybe my personal experience having pet rats affected me, made me realise that rats were animals too – and that they deserve a bit more credit than they actually get.

I owned two pet rats as a kid and have always had a great affection for them. The first was named Viv Richards after the West Indian Cricketer. The second named Ratty, not because he was a rat but as a tribute to Ratty from Wind in the Willows. Both rats would run all over our house during the day and voluntarily return to their cages at night. They were friends with the dog, avoided the two cats, and were very social, surprising clean and highly intelligent.

One day the rat escaped its cage in the garage when no one was around. The dog discovered the rat and then brought it to the back door mat where the dog kept it until the family arrived home. The dog saved my rat from the cats, and protected it until someone came home and could put it back in its cage. The rat probably knew it was in trouble when he found himself outside in the wild world, and decided that staying with the dog was his best chance of survival. It is a beautiful animal story – of friendship and survival and love. Perhaps one day it can be into a feature film – a Disney classic like the Lion King with songs and all sorts of dramatic messages.

I never had any problems with my rats, Ratty or Viv, although one did bite me on the finger. It wasn’t his fault though. I had stupidly placed honey on the tip of my finger because I wanted to give the rat a treat. He took one whiff of the honey and bit down hard on my little finger. Blood spurted out and I needed urgent medical attention, but I never blamed Ratty. It was in his nature to bite at the site of honey. I loved both of my rats. They were special animals, and both sadly died from throat cancer – caused by too much smoking, or just the stress of a strange life for a rat in a cage.

I always thought that Bruce Wayne should have gone for Ratman instead of Batman. The much maligned Rat is a superhero of sorts. They can de-mine war torn areas of the world where mines are left behind post conflict as they are doing in Mozambique and Cambodia other places where land mines are a deadly daily reality. They are used continually as a testing ground for new drugs and pharmaceuticals. If it’s good enough for the rats it’s good enough for us, well at least a backpacker desperate for some cash and who is prepared to do a human medical trial, and then if it passes that without giving the subject elephantitus, then it’s good enough for us. The rat must have saved millions of lives of the years – through the development of medicines that we would never have without rat trials. It is the great animal ally of the humans – sacrificing its life for the development of medicine for us all.

They are also highly intelligent capable creature. Plus when humans have destroyed all the other animals of the world, by taking away their habitats, it will only be those that can survive in the cities that survive. The rat may become our last friend in the animal world. It will be rats or cockroaches for man’s new best friend.

I may be biased (I have a special place in my heart for the Rat, hence why ratty was my favourite character in Wind in the Willows. They are in my top three animals – up there with the tapir and the Komodo dragon) but I think the rats deserve better treatment. I guess I have always believed that rats suffer an unfair amount of discrimination.

I’ve heard it said that rats got a bad name during the plague. They got associated with the spread of disease and never recovered. If that is so, I am starting a civil rights movement in support of the rat – Following in the footsteps of Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement, and the gay and lesbian equality movement.

What do we want? AN END TO RAT DISCRIMINATION

When do we want it? NOW!

EQUAL TREATMENT FOR RATS… EQUAL TREATMENT FOR RATS.

Another animal that I believe suffers an unfair amount of discrimination is the pig. It is a very smart animal but not given anywhere near the support that a whale or dolphin receives. You don’t often see people out in the street protesting the death of a pig. We need a great big bus driving around protecting pigs from the slaughterhouse – we could call it the “Sty Warrior” or just “Wilbur” in remembrance of the world’s most famous pig from Charlotte’s Web. A brilliant pig, saved from becoming dinner by its own genius, although it is the spider that probably deserves the accolades – writing in its web each night with words that describe the pig, impressing the farmer and villagers so much that the pig is saved. If I were the farmer, I would have captured the spider and sent it off to university, and eaten the pig celebrate. Roast pork with some scratching. Sounds delightful right? And that’s the problem.

The pig is, by all accounts, a highly intelligent creature. Yet no matter how smart it is, there is hardly a restaurant I attend where pork, ribs, suckling pick or some other pig dishes doesn’t appear on the menu. It’s just too damn tasty for its own good, with too many ways to be eaten – bacon, ham, pork salami, prosciutto – the list is endless. If it hadn’t been so tasty it may be afforded the same rights as the orang-utan or the elephant: A treasure to protect and always a place in our hearts.

Even if after reading this, you still find that it’s too hard to fight for the pig, or just too easy to keep eating them, then we should at least respect them, as we munch down on another roast pork roll or ham sandwich. Respect how tasty they are, for they are truly a magnificent creature. Them and the Rats – both!

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