Saturday, 2 October 2010

Ratty

Once again, it was nice to get out for a walk again this morning. We didn't even step out of the door yesterday and we always get a bit 'twitchy' when we haven't been able to get out for a walk, so it was nice to see the sun shining again this morning.
It was very wet under foot as you might expect, so we had to stick to the 'proper' paths. Unfortunately, this meant we couldn't get away from the cyclists who seem to think they own the paths at the weekends and we walkers are a nuisance which must be pestered out of existence at every opportunity (enough of the bitching).
The pond at Straw's Bridge known locally as Swan Lake, is always popular with bread-throwing duck feeders. This glut of bread also attracts rats and we have often seen these little brown darlings running around on the water's edge, but I have never been quick enough to take a picture of them as they tend not stand still long enough. But today was different. I manged to capture one picture before it scampered off - and it turned out to be not too bad.
This is a young Brown Rat (Rattus norvegicus). Named 'norvegicus' in the mistaken belief that they had originated in Norway and had migrated to England on Norwegian ships in the 18th century.
Brown Rats are the archetypal omnivore and will eat almost anything.  Cereals are their main food source in the wild, but human wastefulness and our habit of throwing food about (bread in this case) provides a welcome and easy meal.  Brown Rats have been reviled by almost everyone since time immemorial, especially since the days when the Black Death took it's toll on the population.  Once again, the blame for the Bubonic Plague, which has often been placed on the Brown Rat, was misplaced.  In fact, it is thought that the Brown Rat actually helped with the eradication of Plague by displacing the Black Rats which were the carriers of the fleas which really were responsible for the disease.
To end with today, here's another short video of some of my pictures, set to music.  These pictures are from our past holidays in Spain and a few from closer to home.  Hope you enjoy them.
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