Today is World Rat Day. I’m not sure why it is, or who decided upon such a niche celebration, but I’m not going to argue with them regardless.
I’m pretty new to the fancy rat world. When I first got my four boys last year, it soon occurred to me that fancy rat owners were, to put it politely, a little nuts. They were a little more vocal than other pet owners, a little quicker to pass judgement, a little more zealous in their defence of their precious little ones than, say, a cat or dog owner might be.
It was only as my four lads entered their terrible teens and developed unique and compatible personalities that I came to appreciate why rat owners were so frighteningly enthusiastic. Because they had to be. These beautiful creatures have all the personality and individuality of dogs, and they aren’t far off in the brains department either.
And yet humans have vilified them. The reaction that my beautiful boys get is usually repulsion. Or pity. Rarely do people, even pet owners, appreciate how close the connection between pet owner and rodent is. One friend even suggested I should kill them, before I contract a disease; believe me, after several months spent taming my alpha male Bobo, I’ve been bitten enough to know that either my rats are plague-free, or that I’m immune to it.
I guess it’s the hatred towards fancy rats that I don’t quite understand. The hatred towards an animal that, while I appreciate can be a pest and does need to be controlled, comes in as diverse a range of personalities and social archetypes as we hairless apes. Yet no other animal has earned our contempt quite like the rat. Were you so inclined, you can go on Youtube right now and watch rats being tortured and killed. Would dog owners stand if videos featuring dog harm were available?
Anyway, while I was developing this site’s logo, I was flummoxed as to exactly what I should use for the logo. Perhaps it was a subconscious association between the word Bothersome and rats, or perhaps it was that my four vermin-boys enjoy using my body as a climbing frame while I try my hardest to actually get some work done… Either way, at some point Bothersome Books’ rat-themed logo became a “thing” and is now here to stay.
It’s a risky direction to take. Self-published books are nigh-on impossible to sell to begin with, let alone when they’re embossed with the vilified rodent (horror books are the exceptions – though it’s probably best if we don’t go there). Yet I’m hoping that the decision it will resonate with other bookish types. Most of the rat lovers I’ve ever met seem to be avid readers; whether that is because of some weird affiliation with all things Poe, I don’t know. Maybe it’s because in the age of Youtube, Facebook and three second attention spans, bookworms are not unlike fancy rats; quiet, intelligent and misunderstood creatures.
Finally, like the true rat-obsessive I’m slowly becoming, allow me to bore you with photos of my spoilt, overweight layabout ratties:
(warning: may contain graphic close-ups of oversized rat testicles)