Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Rats! -ish. Well, actually, Poppets, -ish

As you know, I've been reading about rats. Lots about rats. More than I ever thought I might. This is what happens when one starts to research a subject. It becomes a rabbit hole that goes ever so much deeper than originally imagined. I've discovered, in fact, that one cannot read lots about rats without

reading quite a bit about plague, which is actually not about rats so much as about humans...

And about fleas that look a bit like tiny elephants.

But then, that's another story.

This Poppet (above, in red) is inspired by the idea of the Pied Piper, who may or may not have lead rats out of an infested city. The rats I sculpted (with a very tiny tool and mostly, a toothpick) are not of the black Rattus rattus sort associated with plague, but more of the Rattus norvegicus sort associated with nearly every city block in New York and currently,
with a small out-of-the-way and (thankfully) mostly unused pantry in this artist's kitchen.

The Plague Doctor Poppet is inspired by research into plague central, circa 1345. (shudder) Just don't you wonder what the long stick is for?

I truly doubt our pantry rat would follow a flute (possibly I should give it a try, as I happen to have several on hand) but it might follow what author Robert Sullivan names as a favorite food:
Vienna sausages, sardines and Kit Kat bars, all stuck together with peanut butter. Yum.

Anyway, yes, I'm in a quandary, still.
I explained to David K. earlier today, that extermination is no longer an option, as I've come face to face and eye to eye with this creature more than once, and I know that it likes oranges but not Oreos.
I have an offer of a trap from the local animal control center, but taking the rat away might mean leaving behind babies that will die in our walls and leave our kitchen unsuitable for humans and my sleep much disturbed for months. I keep reading and learning loads about rats, but not so much about this one, or what to do.

And I'll admit that I'm heavily influenced by affections for another rodent residing in this house, namely Zorcon the Destroyer (of carrots.)

This is a problem that will only get bigger, left unresolved. But who, with even the merest shred of childhood left, can resist the scenario of leaving a treat at night that is mysteriously vanished in the morning?

It's the kind of thing people get involved in when they spend entirely too much time alone in their houses and in their heads.
And, it carries the seed of a story. Don't you think?


Drinne said...

What is the gestation/litter time? Conceivably if you time gestation + independence then you set a reusable humane trap in the pantry and other places of rat sign you will be able to release the family 1 by 1 into the same area ( it's what we did with the mice) It took about a week and a half, there were five mice all told.

In a confrontation the pantry rat wouldn't be nearly as sentimental about Zorcon, I'm afraid and you really can't let them just run about the house. A townhouse I was in was mouse central because we couldn't use the exterminator and it stopped being cute when you were' checking your shoes and the tub and the washing machine hoses.

Nothing fixed that but suddenly having to adopt a ferret for a family member that had to move. Mice were outta there in less than 24 hours.

The ferret did not catch any mice - poor little predator never had the chance. My 85lb golden retriever had been no mouse deterrent at all. Smart mice, they never stuck around for ferret games.

WV is colest - Colest looked around the library with approval, the new electric lighting was indeed much better for the books, if a bit harsh on the skin tone compared to gaslight. Indeed, it was a bit hard on the wallpaper as well, the green of the acanthus leaves looked decidedly garish although the hemlock held up well.

mordicai said...

I have to say, the Doc Schnabel/Ill Dottore thing is...kind of my favorite. When storytelling, I sometimes (rarely! Special occasions!) include a plague doctor (chirurugeon is what I say) called Doctor Tophet who is a kind of Nyrlanhotep like metatextual intrusion.

Neon said...

Hey Lisa!
Have you read 'King Rat' by China Mieville? I think you would really like it, I've just finished reading it and enjoyed it a lot.
It confirmed a lot I had suspected about rats (and birds and spiders!)

It may well give you the creeps though as it did me but life wouldnt be any fun without the creepy stuff :)

DavidK said...

Hmm, the good Doctor has a vaguely Charles Addams-ish look to him... I like!

WV: mulcesse (MULL-kess): Related to the flail, a thick wooden rod approximately 3 ft long with a short chain at one end, to which is attached a rounded stone rod of equivalent diameter and approximately 1 ft long. Used in the 1600s to flatten brush along the edges of fields.

Addy said...

They used to have to carry staffs to show they had direct contact w/ plague victims.

It was a means of identification. :) But, I like the nefarious thought process better.

I just did a research paper on the plague. I'm a little in love with your doctor.

Carl V. said...

Those are both great! Not too creepy, not too cuddly. They are perfect. Whenever I have watched history channel shows about the plague or read about it I find it fascinating. Of course that is probably because I can sit here comfortably reading about it rather than actually experiencing it!!!

I'm sorry you are having to deal with an unwanted, but not necessarily unloved, intruder. I do tend to take the side that you've got to nip the affection in the bud and get the thing out of your house as you certainly don't want to be sharing your home with an entire family of the things. What is cute could become a menace in a very brief period of time.

I love seeing how the things going on in your life inspire you, especially when the result of said inspiration is so incredibly cool!

Loraine said...

Scary. You know, in my own readings on the Plague a few years ago (that didn't involve the flagellants), it was mentioned that cats were considered witches' familiars and were burned along with witches or killed outright. With the cats gone, the rats ran rampant, and so did the plague!