Are Rats of Any Use to Man?

There is no other animal that man has fought with such energy for so long in so many places as the rat! There are many species of animals called rats, and most of them are harmless and interesting animals. But there are two common rats, the black rat and the brown rat, that have caused all rats to be hated by man.

Why does man fight the rat? Each year rats ruin hundreds of millions of pounds worth of grain. They  destroy eggs, poultry, song birds, and spoil food in homes and son ships. Fires are caused by a rats gnawing matches, gas pipes, and insulated electric wires. Houses may be flooded when they gnaw through water pipes.

They damage floors and furnishing. Finally, they spread diseases such as the fortunately rare bubonic plague. There are probably as many rats as people in the cities of the world. In the country, they actually outnumber human beings by three or four to one! They climb and burrow and live indoors or outdoors, in dry places or wet.

They like vegetables best, but they will eat almost anything. And since they can live almost anywhere and increase so rapidly, they hard to control. A female rate may have ten litters of young in a year, and the young are ready to produce more young in only four months!

But rats do have one important use to man. Since many of their organs work very much like man’s, rats are used in laboratories for many experiments. New knowledge about diet, glands, and nervous reactions has been gained by experimenting on them although results can be unreliable.

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