Well, I thought it was a grand idea. I’d just picked up some frozen fluffs for our rescue snake, and whilst I was in the pet shop I also picked up a large frozen white rat, £3.50 — a snip.
And what better than to snip it open at Ivydale School Natural History Club last week? Last year I rolled up with a beef heart to chop open, and after some initial squeamishness everyone wanted to pull it apart to have a look at the valves and the arterial connections.
Mr rat, though, got a rather different reception. OK, it did smell rather bloody, but even so I was slightly surprised at the seeming revulsion of a couple of the 9-year-olds. They were excused observational duties and skulked in a corner muttering, whilst the rest of us dug in.
It was definitely a Mr rat, by the way. The very large testes were spotted from the start.
At pick-up time the school office was abuzz with some of the kids telling their parents what they had just been up to. I’m still half expecting a complaining letter or two, though.
Just to finish, I love this quote, from eccentric Victorian naturalist Frank Buckland, Notes and jottings from animal life, 1882.
I owe a great deal to rats. When a student at St. George’s Hospital I wrote an article on rats, which I sent to a magazine, and to my great amazement the publishers sent me a cheque for it. From that moment I have taken a great liking to my first patrons in literature, viz. ‘Rats,’ and I always somehow connect them in my memory with publishers.