5 Truly Frightening Facts About Rats
By Judy Dutton
6:00 pm ET March 18, 2016
With spring nearly here, all creatures great and small (including us!) are breaking out of hibernation and frolicking around the neighborhood. Yet there is one critter most of us won’t be so thrilled to see: rats. They’re everywhere these days—and not just lurking under dumpsters. They’re also scurrying through a slew of news articles that will make you cringe.
Did we mention they’ll make you cringe? OK, you’ve been warned. So scurry on over and take a look at a few recent stories and some scientific facts about our favorite (by default) and most feared long-tailed rodents.
Scary fact No. 1: Rats may be getting bigger than ever
Earlier this week, gas engineer Tony Smith was taking a stroll through a playground near the London neighborhood of Hackney Downs when he claims he stumbled across a 4-foot-long rat that weighed over 25 pounds—basically “the size of a child,” he told The Mirror.
Smith snapped a photo and posted it online—stirring up panic that a wave of “super rats” will soon take over London, as well as skepticism over whether the photo is real, or angled in such a way to make the rat look bigger than it is in real life.
Some armchair Twitter analysts like Oliver O’Brien (below) claim that by his measurements, the rat is only 2 feet long … as if a 2-foot rat is supposed to make us feel OK?
The “giant rat” is two foot rather than the “four foot” claimed in the press. Perspective trick. Here’s my working:
Scary fact No. 2: Rats can trigger depression
Feeling blue? Rats may be to blame. A new study from the Journal of Community Psychology found that the more rats you see on a daily basis, the greater your risk of suffering from clinical depression. In fact, even the thought of rats can cause depression, so you should probably stop reading this article.
Scary fact No. 3: Rats can survive being flushed down the loo
That’s right! If you’re one of those depressed souls who catches a live rat in your own house, flushing it down the toilet is no way to get rid of it. Rats can survive this unceremonious exit since they’re able to hold their breath for up to three minutes, tread water for three days straight, and then can wriggle right back up your toilet to say hello again!
Scary fact No. 4: Rats breed like … rats
Lady rats are baby-making machines: They can mate 500 times during the six-hour window they’re receptive—and, if left unchecked, can produce 22 rats per birth and a total of 2,000 offspring a year.
Scary fact No. 5: Rats prefer scrambled eggs, but will settle for poop
One study by Martin Schein at the Animal Behavior Society found that given their druthers, a rat’s favorite foods include scrambled eggs, macaroni and cheese, and corn (cooked). But if none of those is on the menu, no problem; rats can also eat their own feces since it’s nutritious! Or else, of course, there’s always pizza.