A few months ago a Spo-fan who is well over four feet asked me about my fascination with rats. I wasn’t aware I was preoccupied so but after skimming through the blog-posts I see they do pop up from time to time.

Rats are the Shadow animal of our species; where humans are there are rats. [1] They are associated with death, pestilence, pollution, poverty, and strip malls. Even The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections who flinch at nothing scream like little old ladies if they see one in the Board Room. Their emotional solution is to set fire to the place hoping to be raze the roof and be rid of the rats. Like Rocky to Bullwinkle I explain this trick never works. [2]

In contrast to normal folks I’ve never thought of rats as something awful or horrid but comical. I grew up with three brothers and countless gerbils that were forever breaking out of their cages and running around the house (the gerbils not the brothers). Seeing rodents whiz around the house was common sight so they didn’t faze me. I suppose it was an easy step to translate cute gerbil qualities to their rat cousins.

Monty Python often used rats in their sketches which programmed me to laugh when I saw one. Rats were in the same box of comedy props as rubber chickens, banana peels, and fart bags. In “Fawlty Towers” John Cleese frantically tries to keep the health inspector from discovering Basil the rat. [3]  It is one of the funniest comedies ever and worth a look-see on YouTube.  No –  go on, I’ll wait.

Spo-fans know some of my favorite expressions involve rats:


“I smell a rat”


“Sooner I’d eat rats at Tewkesbury”


“A recipe fit for the rats” [4]


If you got to this part of the read without running off or being sick/offended I thank you for sticking around for my rhapsody on the rat.



[1] Others argue our Shadow species is the cockroach. This is reasonable. However there is nothing humorous or charming about cockroaches. They evoke no comedy and should be stomped upon.

[2] A few years ago they  brought in a cat imported from Iceland to try to keep down the rat population. Jolakottur was a huge rather dirty-smelling puss who lasted only a few weeks. I don’t recall her actually catching any rats; they just laughed at her. She disappeared one day and was never seen again. To be safe I didn’t have the meat pies that evening.

[3] Unsuccessfully passed off as a Siberian hamster.

[4] Just typing these out made me giggle.