Anatomy of a Monster

big and bigger

A few blurbs back I shared a comprehensive guide to the two most common species of rats, Rattus Rattus and Rattus Norvegicus. Of the two, the Norway rat is clearly larger and more aggressive. It has a strong burrowing instinct and can sink barns and buildings by undermining foundations and move tremendous amounts of dirt. Its aggressive nature can be seen when treating chickens that have been attacked in the night as they were catatonic or babies chicks that have been eaten. Other rats will even eat their own kind if they have been killed in a trap.

When on a site visit I have seen Norway rats turning to face the dog and sometimes actually jumping straight at a dog (most dont live that long to get the chance). We also deal with rat bites to the dogs after every hunt and treat them at home. Yes, working the dogs is inherently dangerous. But so is driving a car.

What do you think of when you think big rat? I doubt many real creatures inspire more myth or creative imaginings. A few rat droppings, creatively imagined turn into hundreds of rats. A big rat turns into a cat size urban myth. Three juvenile rats entering in a nest burrow is fodder for a fire of fevered fear of infestations.

In my own tale as a rat catcher I have not kept track of my total sum of dead rats, though this would be interesting. I also do not keep journals or notes on rat biology. I do, however, take the time to weigh and measure the occasional very large specimen and have learned a few things. I do see big rats and I see them at many locations. I consider any rat over .85 be a big one. This turns the fever pitch of imagination into reality. While big rats in the .85 lb. range are common, when you start to get bigger than this is when you are truly seeing a rat. Here the weight range become more compact with less variance and slight weight difference become less common. I have been weighing rats 3 or 4 years in this time I have killed (guesstimate) several thousands of rats. On locations with good amounts of available food sources we often see rats in the 1.1 lb range. The largest I have ever seen and my personal record for largest specimen was a 1.272 lb. buck and no specimens ever came close although I eagerly weighed many. In fact this is how I learned a big rat is .85 and bigger because that is what big rats weigh when you weigh them enough.

This past weekend on a dairy farm I was able to raise the bar on my personal experience and catch a rat with my dogs that was truly a monster of the species. Caught as a breeding pair both the maie and femaie are exceptional in size. These rats are not easy to catch or kill and do damage to the dogs. It takes courage, skill and bravery to confront such a beast knowing they will take a beating or bite. As much as I know you have enjoyed reading this, I also guess you are wondering what a personal best and monster rat weighs.

As large as a full size 750ml bottle of wine and weighing in at 1.440 lbs. This is true monster !


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