For years, there were rumors that a strange creature haunted an apartment complex in the Bedford Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn. Residents saw a shadowy, large creature scurrying about. At times, they would just hear loud, scratching noises. Some thought the building had its own version of Big Foot or the Jersey Devil while others thought the creature was not of this world. But the mystery of the unidentified visitor was solved when Jose Rivera, a city housing worker stabbed it with a pitchfork. The mysterious creature at the other end of the prongs? A three-foot- long rat.
Yes, let me repeat it: a three-feet-long rat – a Gambian Pouched Rat to be precise. Apparently, this species of rat was once kept as an exotic pet before the federal government made it illegal to import them to the US. As it turns out, the one that was killed by Mr. Rivera, is only one of possibly three living in the complex, and at least two more of the jumbo rodents are still at large.
When I read this, I marched across the street to my neighbor’s house and measured her cat. And I discovered that the rat was bigger than her cat. In fact, animal experts say that this rat is bigger than most cats and a large number of dogs. I have one word for this: Yuck!
I am not a good rat person, and I have a good reason why I am not a good rat person. When I was in grammar school, my best friend Kathleen Simone and I, took turns sleeping over each other’s house. We loved to watch scary movies on TV. One time, we watched Willard – the movie about the guy who gets his rats to eat people he hates? Well, after watching that movie and enduring the three weeks of nightmares that ensued, I decided I would never see a live rat again. So, when the picture of Mr. Rivera and the impaled, three-foot rat showed up on the internet, I didn’t say, “Oh, call PETA, this guy killed this poor animal.” Au contraire, I said, “Yes, it’s dead, kill all the freaking rats!”
I guess when it comes down to it, I am not a good exotic pet person at all. I don’t want them all killed, but I do know that I won’t be comfortable with them in my house. I am a dog, cat, fish, horse, pig, goat, cow, sheep, duck, various species of bird, and dolphin (although I would think a dolphin is tough to keep unless one has a large swimming pool or a private ocean) person. Allow me to present a list of animals that will never call my house, home..
All rodents: no surprise since I told you about the monster rat, but you might be surprised over me banning the entire rodent population. I have to admit that from afar, hamsters, squirrels, pet mice and even little pet white rats are cute in their own way, but once they graduate into rats that can cause bubonic plague, I have no problem with exterminators doing their job.
Snakes: Very few people in this world bother me with the exception of tea party devotees and snake owners. Hm. I wonder if that is a coincidence. Anyway, I do not see the attraction in owning a snake. Pets are supposed to be soft, cuddly and warm-blooded . I once had a friend whose brother wore his pet snake around his neck. As I watched “Cecil” the snake slither and close in around this guy’s throat, I didn’t think anything about him was cute – the snake not the guy – well, in truth, not the guy either,
Lizards: The reasons why I hate snakes apply to lizards and other reptiles as well. I could live with a turtle and maybe a frog, but no lizards. Even the Geico Gecko creeps me out. I don’t care if he does have an Australian or British accent; his beady eyes and long tongue just make me uncomfortable.
Tarantulas: Unless you are Stephen King and you have to maintain a scary persona so you can continue to sell books by frightening the bejesus out of people, you should not own a poisonous spider. The people who find furry, gross spiders cute, are people who should be locked up for life. There is something definitely wrong with them. Hey, I understand the balance of nature and that spiders play an important role in keeping that balance, but if a spider looks like it has swallowed a compact car for breakfast, it needs to die. This is the stuff Sci-Fi movies are made of. Sure, for a time it might be a cute pet, but let it sit too close to your PC or microwave and suddenly we need the army to stop it from devouring lower Manhattan.
On the outside chance that the monster rats are hiding in other parts of the country and have the potential of growing to the size of a pony, I think the housing authority of all cities should hire workers with pitchforks. It might not be a pretty way of killing mutant rats, but it does seem effective.