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Robert Sullivan knows more
about their eating habits of rats than most. He spent a couple of years
studying the rats in an alley near Broadway and City Hall in New York City. The
result is the can’t-put-it-down
, a bestseller that’s as much about New York as its most unwanted
“The diet of the city rat is
garbage, the refuse of man,” writes Sullivan. “But which garbage? Which
particular kind of refuse? And exactly how much trash does a rat eat?”
One rat trapper in Baltimore
doing rat research long before Sullivan’s time made a list from his
observations. Apparently the garbage-food rats most liked (in order of
descending appeal) were scrambled eggs, macaroni and cheese, cooked corn
kernels, cooked potatoes and cooked oatmeal. Hmmm, big carb hunters.
The food they least liked
were raw beets, peaches, raw celery, cooked cauliflower, grapefruit and raw
cauliflower. Sounds like a kid’s food pick and no-go lists to me.
After spending a whole
summer tracking his alley rats at a discreet distance — Sullivan didn’t want to
interfere with their behaviour — he concluded that the food rats scurrying
around inside black plastic garbage bags loved most, fought over most was
chicken pot pie. Ratatouille ‘s sophisticated Remy would be oh so disappointed.
Glenda Bartosh is an
award-winning freelance writer who will sneak a peak at the Year of the Rat
parade, and the neighbourhood rats, in Vancouver’s Chinatown February 10.