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January 25, 2006

please don't feed the birds, rats, etc.

While I consider myself a naturalist, I am not impressed by my wildlife photography skills. I can't even take a picture of a common D.C. rat in daylight. In the blurry photo collage below are pictures I took of a bold trio of common brown rats (Rattus norvegicus) seen today going for bread crumbs just outside the DuPont Circle Metrorail Station, Q Street exit:
Rattus norvegicus - the Norway Rat
Thier bold diurnal behavior is a good illustration of why it isn't good to feed pigeons or sparrows (house finches, actually) in any city. For one thing, the more you feed pigeons, the more they shit on your car. Also, the pigeons will survive without your handouts - trust me. Third, what the birds don't eat will be eaten by rats, then the rat population soars. Don't feed birds, and you won't feed rats. Also, keep your garbage can lids tight and secure...a rat can easily jump up into them for food.

My host family in Peace Corps had a pet white rat named Fedya. Fedya lived in the kitchen and lived his life on the seat of a chair, the towel on the cusion changed daily. Fedya lived a rich life, being fed kitchen scraps by my two young host sisters, who adored him and took him out into the living area to play all the time. But rats live an average of 18 months, 3 years max, and Fedya died of old age while I was there. The girls were very sad and cried for days. Later they got a puppy they named 'Garlic' in English, because they liked the sound of the word.

I took the rat pictures coming back from the Washington Auto Show, where a group of our students were representing with a vehicle they made and race themselves. Pretty impressive group of students. I looked around and realized I'm not really a car person. I was more impressed by the flashy displays and how they were built than the cars themselves. I won't post pictures of cars becasue they weren't that interesting to me. However, I'd love to have this little remote control gun unit at home:
mobile gun
It only went up to my waist, designed to shoot and travel by remote control. Hook up a Hoover vacuum attachment and I'm set. Security and tidiness in one little gadget!

Posted by jimbo at January 25, 2006 5:15 PM


We don't have brown or Norwegian rats here in Tucson- just the native species. I was once chased by a huge rat as a child, I'm not really fond of them.

Posted by: homer at January 25, 2006 6:18 PM

The rats in Baltimore look like small dogs, and they will mug you for your wallet.

Posted by: Dax at January 25, 2006 7:27 PM

Can I get one of those dear treaded objects delivered? I will need something to walk me around town next week.

That rat looks really small. I kow it's winter but shouldn't it be pushing 10 lbs?

Posted by: copperred at January 25, 2006 11:30 PM

Twice I have seen Jill bark a mouse out of hiding, then dispatch it with one bite and walk away as if it were nothing. There should be more terriers on walks in the neighborhood to balance things out.

Posted by: First mom at January 26, 2006 2:00 AM

Actually, 'cheesnok' is a pretty cute name in Russian.

Posted by: Glenn at January 26, 2006 7:53 AM

I want a robot to patrol the alleys and move the dealers and the crack ho along.

Posted by: Marie at January 26, 2006 10:23 AM

Norwegian rats? look this:

Posted by: ARARAT at January 27, 2006 10:40 AM