Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Interesting Myths About Rats

By Shellyane Bryan
A rat owner from England shares tales of living with her first rat, Queen Dumbo Duncanson-Bryan, and a rat named Mouse.

Rats Dumbo and Mouse snuggle
Courtesy Shellyane Bryan
Do you believe rats can sense things from beyond?

I was watching my rats, Mouse and Dumbo, this morning and it seemed as though Dumbo was spooked by something. She does this from time to time, just sits very still and listens. Even if I pick her up, she still remains very, very still. I always think that she must be sensing the ghosts.

I actually looked into animals and sixth senses recently and was quite surprised to find that rats and mice both have what’s known as a vomeronasal organ. It’s an organ inside the nose that responds to pheromones secreted by animals. It makes sense for rodents to be sensitive to them with their sensitive noses, so maybe Dumbo is just smelling something interesting.

I always found the superstition about rats jumping ship before it goes down as though they can sense death very interesting. A lot of animals are said to be able to sense that kind of event. Although, while I was researching, I read that rats chewing clothes or furniture is a bad omen and often a sign of death! Given the times my rats have chewed holes in my clothes or have attacked the furniture, hopefully this means we can safely assume that particular myth is exactly that — a myth! I also learned that rats leaving a house is a sign to move out. So, I know if Dumbo and Mouse ever break free and run off, I should do the same!

Regardless of the ridiculous superstitions from centuries ago, I still think rats can sense things we can’t. Leon the hamster does the same thing from time to time, just sits very, very still and listens. Obviously rodents have better hearing than we do, so maybe they’re just listening out for something we lowly humans can’t hear, but I sort of like the idea of them being able to sense things from the beyond.

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Tommy, pocatello, ID
Posted: 11/19/2009 8:41:49 AM
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