The Story of Rats: Their Impact on Us, and Our Impact on Them

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Overview

More than the story of how people and rats live together, this book takes a serious and intriguing look at science and scientists, the problems they solve and fail to solve, and the scope and imperfections of our scientific knowledge of the world. It answers questions such as: Are rats still a threat to human health? Do rats think? Is it true that wild rats sometimes die, unwounded, from social stress? Can studies of rat societies tell us anything useful about our own social lives? This compelling historical and social study will capture the interest of all readers—from those fascinated by rats to those who cringe—by explaining the delicate and sometimes volatile impacts humans and rats have had on each other over the centuries and into the modern age.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Everything you wanted to know about Rattus norvegicus and its kin but were too afraid to ask." —Kirkus Reviews

"Full of interesting information." —AFRMA

John Kimak
...get a copy...
Las Vegas Review-Journal
Biotechnology Focus
A fascinating look at our complex and long-standing relationship with rats.
Kirkus Reviews
Everything you always wanted to know about Rattus norvegicus and its kin but were too squeamish to ask. Those whose skin crawls in the presence of rodents should be glad they don't live in southern India, where a single field or village can harbor thousands of rats and ratlike creatures, such as the bandicoot and gerbil, and where practiced rat-catchers can bring down 12,000 rodents a month, earning cash and eating the harvest to boot. So we learn from the good doctor Barnett (Zoology/Australian National Univ.), an English scientist who has been studying rats and their ways since WWII. In this solid, often engaging survey, he treats the two most widespread species (Rattus norvegicus and Rattus rattus) with tolerance, if not sympathy, observing that it is the human destruction of the environment that has allowed these opportunistic rodents-along with a few other more immediately useful species-to flourish. (Even so, he fully recognizes the role of rats in spreading such pestilential diseases as the bubonic plague and leptospirosis.) Barnett's narrative is particularly strong in aspects of life history, from the aggressiveness of male rats (when two fight, he notes, "during attack and boxing, both rats scream and whistle, but, when one approaches or ‘threatens' another, only the animal approached sounds off") to the intelligence of the creature. Those who take a less sympathetic view will be interested in Barnett's discussion of the difficulties attendant in trapping rats on their accustomed ground, for, he observes, the animals exhibit "neophobia," or "the avoidance of a strange object in a familiar place," even as they show an equally strong interest in exploring the new. Regardless oftheir attitude toward rats, readers with an interest in these ever-so-common creatures will find Barnett's overview of much use.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781865085197
  • Publisher: Allen & Unwin Pty., Limited
  • Publication date: 4/28/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 216
  • Lexile: 1060L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

S. Anthony Barnett worked as an adviser to the Indian government on controlling rats before becoming a professor of biology. He is the author of Science, Myth or Magic? and The Science of Life.

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Table of Contents

Illustrations
Preface
Pt. I Histories 1
1 Tales of Rats 3
2 Naming and Taming 14
3 All Fall Down 24
Pt. II Questions and Answers 51
4 A Battle of Wits? 53
5 Do Rats Think? 64
6 Are Rats Gluttons? 91
7 All in Their Genes? 115
8 Rat Societies 128
Pt. III The Blindness of Research 147
9 Population Explosions 149
10 Social Life and Death 164
11 Nature and Human Nature 173
Glossary 177
Notes on sources 186
References 188
Index 196
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