Saturday, December 06, 2014

Clever Rats

 photo CleverRats_zps407def2f.jpg
Clever Rats
Image by Whymper* (first name uncertain) from The Child's Companion and Juvenile Instructor, Vol. XXXIII, 1893, page 121

'The sagacity of rats is a fact that has long been known to naturalists. La Fontaine, in his "Fables," records that "Two rats in foraging, fell on an egg." And the story goes on to tell how
"Brimful of joy and appetite,
They were about to sack the box
So tight without the aid of locks,"
when a fox came into sight. Eager to save their booty, one turned upon his back holding the egg in his paws, and the other dragged him along by his tail to a place of safety.'

Then the following anecdote:

'The other day a son of mine, about eleven, said that through a chink in the floor he could see a rat rolling something that seemed like an egg. I got a saw and cut away the board, and found seven perfectly fresh eggs, not a crack in any except where I had unfortunately cracked a couple with my saw, and we could see that they were quite freshly broken. The nursery (the room in question) is upstairs, and as none of the hens ever lay within thirty or forty yards, and the eggs are collected every day, at what time they (the rats) went to work, or how they got them up the stairs, I can not imagine. We have often missed by the evening the eggs we had seen in the morning, and thougtht the hens had eaten them.'

*Probably Edward Whymper in an enjoyable side project? He was both a professional engraver and a famous mountaineer hence why he he listed as one of the 'etc' illustrators rather than listed by name. The etching signature matches known works.

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