• The Year of The Rat

    Graphic by Ey@el

    Original en français

    You better watch out,
    You better beware,
    They're coming from all sides of the country.
    You better beware
    Return of the rat.

    "Return of The Rat", Nirvana (1992)

    Today marks the beginning of a new 12-year cycle for the Chinese with the celebration of the Year of The Rat. Rats are very clever animals with a bad name based on long-standing ever persistent myths which are totally untrue.

    For example, they have been blamed for the plague whereas this terrible disease was spread by fleas which can infest any animal including humans. Rats are neither unclean (they spend a lot of time grooming) nor aggressive (they'd rather run away) and are actually very useful for mankind.

    In Cambodia, Afghanistan and other countries, their sense of smell is used for detecting landmines which won't be detonated by their light weight. They are also able to sense fires and shipwrecks and when you see them flee, it usually forebodes pending disasters. While in terms of sanitary concerns, rats are natural garbage collectors.

    In Paris alone, it is estimated that the consumption of waste by rats is around 800 tons per day, or 292,000 per year. In comparison, this is more than two incinerators with an annual budget of 188 million euros. (Source)

    Actually, the only rats that can be regarded as pests are those sitting in power. But as the saying goes, “two can play that game1, and we're trapped like rats unless they rat on their decisions.2

    Ey@el

    Endnotes

    1. In French, the pun literally translates to “to each good cat its good rat”.
    2. In the original text, I've used a different pun that says “take a rat” and means failing to get it right.

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