Happy New Year, and welcome to the Year of the Rat! In celebration of this holiday, how could I not offer up to you a platter of rats? No, not to eat, silly. That would be gross. This is a generous helping of rat-themed¹ things for a festive ThThTh list.²

  • Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, by Robert C. O’Brien. The Newbery Award winning children’s novel about a mother mouse and a colony of highly intelligent rats.
  • Templeton, the rat from E. B. White’s beloved book, Charlotte’s Web. Was voiced by Steve Buscemi in the 2006 movie based on the book.
  • I don’t give a rat’s ass. An idiom meaning “I don’t care,” akin to “I don’t give a flying fig.” One of those expressions that is always used with the negative. For example, one would not likely hear “I give a rat’s ass.” Or maybe one should. I could design a line of greeting cards, perhaps for Valentine’s Day: “I give a rat’s ass about you.”
  • ratty: An adjective to mean dirty, messy and/or worn out. Also a nickname for a cafeteria at my undergrad University. The Sharpe Refectory was long ago nicknamed the Sharpe Rat Factory, later shortened to The Ratty. The nickname was used so frequently that it was easy to forget that it wasn’t the cafeteria’s official name.
  • Ratatouille (2007) Pixar’s latest animated movie is about a young rat who loves to cook.
  • willard_movie.jpg

  • Willard (1971), and its sequel, Ben (1972). There was also a 2003 remake of Willard, starring the appropriately creepy Crispin Glover. These were movies about the friendship between a man (or boy) and some rats. (Oh, and the rats are vicious killers. Note that you can find these movies on imdb via the plot keywords “eaten alive by rats.”)
  • “You dirty rat!” a phrase popularly attributed to James Cagney, though apparently a misquote:

    It should be noted, however, that he never actually said, “You dirty rat!”, a popular phrase associated with him….The phrase actually originated in the 1932 film Taxi!, in which Cagney said, “Come out and take it, you dirty, yellow-bellied rat, or I’ll give it to you through the door!” often misquoted as “Come out, you dirty rat, or I’ll give it to you through the door!”

  • Rodents of Unusual Size (ROUS): Oversized rats (well, it’s not specified that they’re rats, but they look pretty rat-like in the movie) from the Princess Bride.
  • rats_of_hamelin.jpg

  • The Pied Piper of Hamelin. A legend, sometimes written as a fairy tale, about a man who freed a town of its rat infestation by playing his pipe to lure the rats to drown themselves in the river. When the town refused to pay the agreed upon fees, the Piper then lured away the town’s children.
  • The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, by Terry Pratchett. A Discworld book for young adults about some rats (and a cat) who work a Pied Piper scam.
  • I Was a Rat, a children’s book by Philip Pullman (of The Golden Compass fame). About a boy who was once a rat. A bit of a fairy tale retelling from an unusual perspective.
  • Adventures of the Rat Family,” a fairy tale by Jules Verne
  • Amy from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. A character who turned herself into a rat to escape being burned as a witch, but didn’t manage to turn herself back into a human afterwards. Was then kept in a cage as pet by Willow for several years. When she eventually returns to human state, says “I felt like I was in that cage for weeks.”
  • “I think I smell a rat,” a song by the White Stripes. For Amy (see above item) clips set to the song check out this YouTube video.)
  • A few more rat-related items include: mazes, the rat race, The Rat Pack, and pack rats. There was also the rat who ate the malt in “This is the house that Jack built

    This is the rat,
    That ate the malt
    That lay in the house that Jack built.


¹ YTSL mentions, though, that this can also be considered to be year of the mouse. All the more reason to get around to a mouse list some time soon.

² Last year, I gave a list of pigs for Year of the Pig.

12 thoughts on “rats!

  1. This is so cosmic! I just started reading The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rats today! It’s lots of fun so far.

    *ahem* … “amazying”?

  2. “The Rats of Rutland Grange”, written by by Edmund Wilson, with drawings by Edward Gorey. It was originally published in Esquire magazine, and later printed up as a rather hard to find book.

    And, periodically one runs into the huge inflatable rats where some union is on strike: http://www.bigskyballoons.com/ratpack.html

    I find it hard to resist adding things to your wonderful lists.

  3. ya know, plenty of people do indeed consume plattersful of rats. gambian pouched rats (that **ginormous** rat in the ‘willard’ remake) are a pretty important food source in the parts of africa they’re native to. very simple to farm them, as people tend to keep small cages just outside the house, and feed them table scraps. they’re a lot more efficient and inexpensive source of protein than most other animals.

    not that i have any desire to eat one myself.

  4. Oooo, and voiced by Paul Lynde in the 70s animated version of Charlotte’s Web. Voice over perfection.

    I’m glad you thought of the Pullman and Pratchett as well. Not as well-known as our dear Mrs Frisbee.

  5. dragonfly-
    ROUSs? I don’t think they exist. As for Amy, I particularly liked the episode where she is momentarily turned back to human form, and then instantly back to a rat, and never noticed by any of the other characters.

    That is a coincidence. I remember really enjoying the book. (And I’ll fix the typo. I did mention I was tired, right? It seems to be a perpetual state.)

    I’m so glad that you don’t resist adding to the lists! I hadn’t heard of “The Rats of Rutland Grange.” But of course I’m intrigued by the Gorey illustrations. I’d read a mention of the inflatable rats, but haven’t run across any myself.

    Maybe I’ll get to work on it, then.

    I’ll allow that people do choose to eat rats. And I’m sure that it’s less gross in some contexts than in others. (Interesting info on the Gambian pouched rats.) But still, not my cup of tea. Or platter of protein.

    That sounds like a lovely idea.

    Ah, yes. I remember the voice of Paul Lynde. He made quite a good rat. (How funny that I remember him from Hollywood Squares. I just looked it up, and sure enough, he was a regular. I watched far too much TV as a young child.)

  6. esta peli esta buena y willard es re lindo y a todos los qu no le gusta son unos putos y a todos los demas =

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