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I watched them for quite a
while, scraping, scraping then rinsing that rat with their small hands in a
bright turquoise plastic basin half filled with cool, clear water. They drew
very little blood, given they were well practised, having already scraped clean
three or four plump, glistening bluish-grey rat bodies that were piled in a
heap. There were two more to go.
I suppose it wouldn’t be too
bad eating rat meat, depending, of course, on what the rats themselves had
eaten. Those jungle rats looked pretty healthy and given all the lush, fragrant
flora around, they likely tasted quite delicious. Those two young girls certainly
Some people call the urban
pigeons that accumulate in stinky, parasite-laden masses in city parks and
plazas feathered rats, given their similarity in haunts and traits to the
mammalian variety. I read once that before Ernest Hemingway earned his wealth
and fame he survived in Paris by killing and eating pigeons. He said they
weren’t too bad.
One small triangular shaped
park not that far from Père-Lachaise Cemetery — which houses the bones of Jim
Morrison, Edith Piaf and other assorted icons — offered particularly good
hunting for nice, plump feathered rats (I only know it is triangular-shaped
because I sat on a bench there and read the account about Hemingway).
In New Orleans and
surrounding environs, they encourage locals to trap and eat nutrias, also known
as nutra-rats; not to be confused with the prehistoric supra rat-like rodent,
remains of which were recently
found in Uruguay. It likely weighed a tonne when it roamed the Earth.
The nutria is a cross
between a rodent and a beaver (think webbed feet, ratty face and long, pink
scaly tail) that looks like a big fat wet rat if you ever see one in a southern
swamp. This South American native was brought to North America for its fur and
is now considered a real nuisance for all the water plants it munches on.
As for what rats eat before
they are eaten, ask anyone who has had a rat problem and they’ll tell you it’s
pretty well anything. Being the omnivorous creatures that they are with highly
developed senses and a huge capability to climb, leap, gnaw, jump and burrow,
they generally get into just about anything anywhere — grain, seeds, wild
fruit, bugs, dog food, dead animals, edibles in compost heaps, groceries in
your house and garbage, garbage, garbage. It all depends on where they live.