Incredible Rats In The News!

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Earth Cadets Education News!

2nd Edition July 2019

Incredible Rats In The News!

Welcome to the 2nd Edition of Earth Cadets Education News!
This issue features the amazingly intelligent rat. Unfortunately rats in the news is usually always bad press.

Please Note: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links at the bottom of the page.

People tend to think of rats as aggressive, disease ridden pests that live in sewers and rubbish piles.
 Pet rats are as intelligent as dogs. Some studies even go so far as to claim that rats outperform dogs during problem solving tests! Other studies claim rats are more intelligent that humans in some tasks!
My family has had a few pet rats over the years and they were all friendly,affectionate and quick to learn. And very clean!
Our rats came running when we called their names.They would leap up on our laps. Coming to rest snuggled up on our shoulders!
Our family rats were called Jake, Rory and Milo after my sons old favourite kids TV show ‘The Tweenies’.
By the end of this newsletter you will have a new appreciation of how awesome rats can actually be!
You’ll learn about fancy rats, wild rats, therapy rats, giant rats that save human lives by detecting mines and diseases,a holy rat temple,crazy rat jokes,how to make an origami rat,take a rodent scavenger quiz, whip up some rat delight treats,decipher a mouse poem,learn about rodents and discover some famous rats from literature and film.

Incredible Rats in the News!

Rats as Top Pets!

Rats make lovely little pets. Pet rats live longer than their wild counterparts with a lifespan ranging from anywhere between 2-5 years. Pet rats are often termed ‘fancy rats’. Their latin name is ‘Rattus Norvegicus Domestica’. Pet rats were bred from the wild brown rat ‘Rattus Norvegicus’.
Fancy rats come in a range of colours including white, albino,black and white, brown, grey, black, blue, cream and even a hairless variety. Pet rats can grow to a length of 15-20 inch including their long pink tail. The long tail helps rats to balance when climbing, tightrope walking, swimming and jumping. Pet rats can weigh between 350g-650g with males heavier than females.
Rats are social animals and love to spend time with other rats or their human companion. A rat can be kept alone but you would have to provide lots of companionship, attention and playtime. A rat will form a strong bond with its human companion. When a rat is happy and relaxed it clashes its teeth together! This is called ‘bruxing’.Sometimes when a rat is really happy it looks like their eyes are popping out! This is called ‘boggling’ But don’t worry this is just the result of an incredibly relaxed rat!
When rats play it is adorable, they leap and prance like a puppy or kitten. Scientists have even discovered that rats can laugh when tickled! Scientists use a special microscope to listen to the rats laughing. You can listen to it here on the Scientific American website!
 When rats are angry with each other they have a boxing match! They stand up on their hind legs and proceed to box each other until one gives up. Then they become friends again!
Fancy rats can be taught to come to their own name and many other tricks. Whatever a dog can learn to do, a rat can do also. For instance rats can be taught to ‘stand up’, ‘roll over’ ‘jump’ over little hurdles,’jump a little hoop’ ‘give a paw’ ‘fetch a little toy’ and much more!Watch pet rats easily learn ten tricks in this awesome video on YouTube!
 Feeding pet rats is easy as they love everything you do! Although, special rat biscuits should make up most of their diet. Raw fruits and vegetables,nuts,seeds, and cooked grains,beans,pasta,cooked potatoes and rice are good additional choices. Although a rat won’t say no to small pieces of cooked fish and meat. My companion rats loved peanut butter, crackers,breakfast cereal and milk, and homemade cake! Though I didn’t give them too much, just a nibble.
If your home is too small for a dog or cat then a fancy rat is a great alternative. Fancy rats are extremely clean animals and can be easily toilet trained. Rats can learn to make friends with just about all pets including cats! Check this article out about a mum and her daughters pet rats. The photos are lovely.
Special rat harness can be purchased which allow you to take your rat for walkies! Rats toys, activity centres and mazes can all be constructed from cardboard and recycling materials. Great learning for kids and rats. If you would like to be an animal behaviourist as a career, then fancy rats are an ideal animal to learn from. Find out more about rat behaviour and mazes here at and watch three pet rats run a homemade maze here on YouTube

Incredible Rats in the News!

Vincent the Therapy Rat!

I’m sure you’ve heard of therapy dogs. But did you know that rats can also be therapy animals? Vincent the therapy rat lives in the USA and spends his time visiting children in schools and libraries. Once there Vincent sits quietly in his little basket listening to stories read by the children. Vincent encourages children who have a hard time reading. Who wouldn’t want to read to attentive, cute little Vincent? Children pat, stroke, cuddle and give Vincent treats. Vincent loves all the attention!  Check out some pictures of Vincent here on google images. The photo of Vincent with his sweet potato birthday cake and party hat is lovely!
Can you think of any other animal that would make an unusual therapy pet? Last year, a lady in Florida took a therapy squirrel in a cat basket on-board an airplane! Unfortunately she was not allowed to travel as the airline did not allow squirrels to fly. Other therapy animals that have boarded airplanes include a turkey, miniature horse and a kangaroo!
Learn more:
How to teach rats tricks:

Check out this site for an Intro To Animal Behaviour:

Find out more about the benefits of companion animals and therapy pets here:

Incredible Rats in the News!

Rats in the Wild!

Worldwide there are about 51 different species of wild rats.
The Norway or Brown rat which our domesticated fancy rats descended from are much larger than our pet rats. The brown rat is the most common rat found in the UK. Its predicted that Great Britain has a population of over 6 million brown rats!
Contrary to what most people think rats are not dirty creatures. They spend about half of their time grooming and washing! 
Brown rats are not actually from Norway! These rats originated from Asia and stowed away on merchant ships during the 1700s to populate the world. During the time of pirates!
Wild rats can weigh anything between 300-900 grams or much bigger! Length from nose to tail can be up to 1 foot or more. 
Wild rats can live up to three years but as there are many more dangers in the wild compared with domesticated rats, their lifespan is usually much shorter.
Brown rats are nocturnal meaning they are most active during the night.
In the UK brown rats can live just about anywhere. In sewers, streets, countryside, towns,warehouses,train stations and cities. Rubbish piles and sewers are adopted as habitats because rats find these areas a source of shelter and food.Its best not to encourage them to your home. Always keep rubbish outside in bins securely tied up and covered as rats are awesome at problem solving a way into your bins!
Rats can survive by eating absolutely anything! They are omnivores so will eat green vegetation,vegetables,grains and produce growing in farmers fields,scraps,food waste,insects,snails,animals,eggs, birds,crustaceans, and some rats even go fishing!

Rats leaving a sinking ship!

The black rat or roof rat is smaller than the brown rat and  originates from South east Asia. The black rat has been around for about 34 million years. During 1349-1400 the black rat stowed away on merchant ships and disembarked all over the world. Today, the only place not to have a population of wild rats is Antarctica.
However, something stowed away with the rats! Fleas! These tiny jumping parasites were harbouring a devastating bacterial disease called the Bubonic plague. Quickly people became sick and around  half of the population of Europe died. People who lived during the middle ages didn’t understand the need to be clean. Rubbish covered the town streets. Consequently the black rats flourished.
In present times the bubonic plague is not found within the UK. But it is found in some countries in Africa, Asia, South America and the USA.
Learn more about the Bubonic Plague here:

New evidence suggests that rats may not be responsible for bubonic plague afterall:

Incredible Rats in the News!


Africa has a giant rat ‘the Gambian pouched rat’ which can weigh up to 2kg! And boasts a length of up to 3 feet from nose to tail tip. That’s a whole lot of rat! These rats have a lifespan of around 8 years.Technically, the Gambian rat is not a species of rat but belongs to the same family as the rat the ‘muroid rodents’.
The Gambian pouched rat gets its name from its hamster like pouches. The Gambian rat can stuff so much food into its pouches that it often can not get back into its own wild burrow!
Common wild rats and fancy rats do not have these pouches.
Gambian rats are often kept as pets but are not recommended for novice owners as they are less laid back than fancy rats and can be more aggressive.

Astonishing, the Gambian pouched rat has been recruited by the Belgium organisation APOPO (Anti-Personnel Landmines Removal Product Development).  Over a period of 9 months APOPO trainers teach Gambian rats the art of landmine sniffing. APOPO describe their rats as HeroRATS! Gambian rats do not have good vision but their smelling powers are incredible! Gambian rats have out performed sniffer dogs when detecting explosives.
Landmines left over from previous wars are hidden in many countries worldwide. Farmers in those countries risk being blown up so they can’t make the best use of the land to feed their families. Local children are also at risk of being hurt by landmines. Gambian rats sniff out landmines and then scratch the ground to indicate the presence to their trainer. These rats have saved many lives! You can find out more about these amazing sniffer rats here.
Gambian rats are also being trained to sniff patient spit samples in Africa, to detect the presence of Tuberculosis bacteria. The rats are trained to stay longer at the slide samples with the TB bacteria and then receive a reward. Slides with different bacteria or no bacteria means no rewards so the rats ignore these. Normally an expensive machine would be used to analyse patient samples and many communities can not afford to purchase the equipment. Gambian rats are providing a valuable service as they are saving lots of money and lives.

Incredible Rats in the News!

Temple of Rats!

Imagine a temple absolutely crammed with rats!Rats on the stairs, rats in the rooms, rats in the cupboards, rats on the window ledge, rats in the toilet, rats dangling from door handles,rats in…well everywhere! In fact around 20,000 black, brown and a few rare white rats! And no rat exterminator in site! Sounds like a scene from the Indiana Jones movie ‘Temple of Doom’! It is a sin to harm any of the rats.
This rat paradise is named The Karni Mata Temple and is located in Rajasthan, India.
The reason for the VIP treatment is because the rats are believed to be the reincarnation of the Indian Goddess Karni Mata and her sons. According to Indian legend Karn Mata convinced the god of death to save her son from drowning. The god of death saved Karni Mata’s son by reincarnating him into a rat. All of Karni Mata’s sons were eventually reincarnated into rats. Spotting a white rat at the temple is especially audacious as the white rat is said to be the reincarnation of Karni Mata.
The Karni Mata Rat Temple is avery popular tourist attraction!
Visitors are cautioned not to stand on the rats. Visitors who accidentally kill a rat are forced to buy a gold rat statue to replace the dead rat, and leave the statue within the temple.
Local children are often seen playing with the rats.
 The rats are fed milk,grains and nuts as well as sweet treats given by the many devotees and tourists that come to visit the temple.
Devotees who worship the rats are honoured to eat leftover pieces of food that the rats have been eating. The rats are encouraged to eat anything they wish even the devotees dinner. In fact, the rats are fed before the temple devotees.  
Amazingly, there have been no reported cases of bubonic plague at the temple or within the surrounding area!
What do you think? Would you like to visit the Rat Temple? Which animal do you think your country/state/nation should worship or treat better? Sketch a picture of your animal enjoying its new found status! Write a paragraph explaining why humans should honour this animal and include a back story about its rise to fame!
Find out more:
Look up ‘rat temple india’ on Google Images to see lots of awesome pictures of the temple, rats and temple workers preparing the rats dinner.
Watch a video on YouTube from National Geographic showing life in the temple with the rats.

Incredible Rats in the News!

Famous Rats and Mice to meet from Literature and Films!


  1. Remy the cooking rat from the Disney Pixar film ‘Ratatouille’ (2007). Remy’s biggest wish is to become a chef! But obviously no one wants rats in the kitchen, unless it is the Rat Temple! Watch the movie to find out how he becomes a great chef!
  2. Ratty the hospitable river rat from the delightful Wind in the Willows story book by Kenneth Grahame . You can listen to the Wind in the Willows stories on BBC school radio here There’s also accompanying programme notes. Read the book for free here on Project Gutenberg. The book has lovely coloured illustrations.

  1. The Rat king from the Nutcracker. This rat is not a nice rat! But the ballet is wonderful, the music enchanting and the story timeless! You can watch the ballet on youtube here Get creative and invent your own villainous rat or a superhero rat. The ratty equivalent to superman/woman!
  2. The Tale of Samuel Whiskers by Beatrix Potter. Featuring a mischievous rat playing tricks and thieving from the Kitten family. You can read this lovely book here at Project Gutenberg.
  3. The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning. This is a great poem with a moral ending. The Pied Piper is hired by the mayor of Hamelin to rid the town of a plague of rats. The piper enchants the rats with his magic flute but all does not end well. Read the tale here at Project Gutenberg. The illustrations are beautiful.
  4. The following films featuring mice, rats and other rodents.Look them up for some fun summer entertainment. Do some film studies and compare the old animations with what film animators can do now with graphics and CJI! If your interested in film studies check out this website: Teach with movies for tons of resources!

A pile of baby rats!

  • An American Tail (1986) Animation
  • The Rescuers (1977) Animation
  • The Rescuers Down Under (1990)
  • The Great Mouse Detective (1986) Animation
  • Stuart Little (1999)
  • Flushed Away (2006) Does feature a rat character!
  • Mouse Hunt (1997)
  • Cinderella Disney movie (1950)
  • Puss in Boots (2011)
  • G-Force (2009)
  • Charlotte’s Web (1973)
  • The Secret of Nimh (1982)
  • Teenage Mutant Turtles animated series (1987) features the Rat King! The old animation series are the best!
  • Danger Mouse (1981) animated series and there’s a revamped 2015 BBC series
  • Steamboat Willie (1928). This is an 8 minute piece of animation history! A must see to see how far the animation industry has come! You can watch it here on YouTube.
  • Walt before Mickey (2015). A film about Walt Disney’s struggles and how he created Mickey Mouse!

    Walt Disney

    Incredible Rats in the News!

Fold an Origami Remy Rat!

Origami is an ancient art from either China or Japan. It may be as old as 1000 years! Paper was invented in China, and Japan quickly cottoned onto the usefulness of paper. The art of paper folding quickly became entrenched within Japanese culture.
The benefits of practising origami include:
  1. Learning and practicing patience while folding and unfolding to create the beautiful paper creation.


  2. Hand-to-eye coordination. This means that your eyes and hands learn to work better together. Origami can help you become more dexterous.


  3. Creativity. Your imagination gets a boost as you envision your creation and think up other creations to fold and bring to life.

    Sailing newspaper boat

  4. Origami helps develop your mathematical brain!As you fold the paper into shapes your thinking of symmetry, angles and geometric shapes.

    Folded paper dress

  5. Learn to follow instructions and sequences to achieve a satisfying goal. You need to be careful to follow each step carefully and back track to a previous step if you’ve accidentally skipped it. This is great practice if you find executive functions really difficult. Executive functioning is a fancy word meaning that you find organising things difficult. So you might find it hard to plan your studies, forget steps easily and quickly give up the task. This can be very frustrating and can mean that you become distracted and avoid anything that resembles learning! Origami is the perfect activity to learn and practice organisational and attention skills. So relax and enjoy!

    Little furries love paper!They can spend hours happily shredding up your junk mail and creating dens with it!

    Paper fortune tellers

Check out these sites to learn origami and be inspired! All you need is yourself, instructions and pieces of paper.

  • Remy the Rat Origami instructions:

Fold a cute origami mouse:

Easy origami instructions with a variety to choose from:

Origami Safari!

Some more easy ideas:                                       

Learn the story of Sadako, the Japanese atomic bomb and Sadako’s 1000 folded paper cranes. There’s also lots of learning resources with crosswords,word searches, compose your own acrostic poem,literature studies,lesson plans and report templates all relating to Sadako.

Origami Crane

I would love to see your origami creations! Email them, with parental permission, to: and I will add them to the Earth Cadets Education art gallery page!

Incredible Rats in the News!


The Muroid rodent family consists of rats, mice, voles, gambian pouched rats, gerbils, hamsters etc. Other rodent species include beavers,capybara,squirrels, chipmunks, porcupines etc.


  • Find out which rat species is the largest?
  • Find out which rat lived the longest on record?
  • Find out which celebrities have or have had pet rats?
  • Find out which rodent is the smallest species?
  • Find out which rodent is the largest?
  • Find out about the biggest rodent that ever existed?Hint:It might be extinct!
  • Find out which rodents can be therapy pets?
  • Find out what the word ‘rodent’ means?
  • Find out who Roland rat was?
  • Find out about the Chinese zodiac sign the ‘rat’?  
  • Find out about other types of wild rat other than the Norwegian rat?
  • Find out the name of the rat in the Charlotte’s Web children’s book?
  • Find out about roof rats?
  • Find out about hamsters? Where do they originate from?
  • Find out about gerbils?What country do they originate from?
  • Find out about voles? Where do they live?
  • Find out about mice?What types of mice are there?
  • Find out about squirrels?What type of squirrels are there? What squirrel is invasive in the UK?
  • Find out about chipmunks?What country do they come from?What movie stars singing chipmunks?
  • Find out about porcupines?Where do they live? Can they shoot their spines out?
  • Find out about beavers?Where do they live in the UK?
  • Are rabbits considered rodents?
  • Find out when the National Fancy Rats Society was formed in the UK?
  • The UK has dog, cat, and other animal shows/competitions. Find out about fancy rat shows?
  • When you choose a pet you need to check its health signs. Such as bright eyes and wet nose in dogs.Find out what a healthy rat should look like?
  • Find out about the pet variety ‘Rex’ rat and what it looks like?
  • Find out about the pet variety ‘dumbo’ rat and what it looks like?
  • Find out about the Russian varieties of pet rats?
  • Find out how much a rats teeth grows each day?
  • Find out what manmade materials a rat can chew through?
  • Find out how small a space a rat can squish itself through?
  • Find out which smells a rat hates?
  • Find out if there’s any foods that a pet rat shouldn’t eat?
  • Chocolate is poisonous to dogs. Is it poisonous to rats also?
  • Find out about Albino rats?
  • Are guinea pigs rodents?
  • Find out about naked mole rats?
  • Find out about Kangaroo rats?Are they actually rats?

Incredible Rats in the News!

Revolting (Just kidding!) Ratty Nibble Delights!

My sons revolting rat delights!

Suitable for rats and humans!


 If you’re lucky enough to own a pet rat then they’ll love these nibbles. Just don’t give them too many at one sitting!
Alternatively make them for yourself and pretend your a little munchkin rat!
Also why not snack on some ratty nibbles during home learning? As they are nutritious powerhouses of energy for your brain!


  • 200 g of peanuts/mixed nuts/sunflower seeds
  • 150g of raisins/cranberries/dates
  • 2 tbsp of agave syrup or honey
  • 4 heaped tbsp peanut butter/almond butter or other nut/seed butter
  • 50g sesame seeds/or desiccated coconut (to coat the nibbles)


  1. Using a food processor grind up the nuts. 
  2. Add the dried fruit and pulse a few times.
  3. Add the nut butter and agave/honey.
  4. Pulse till mixed in and  the mix is coming together.
  5. Tip the mix out and squish it all together.
  6. Roll into little ball shapes. Your ball size depends on whether a rat or human is going to eat the delights.
  7. My son made them a little too large for an actual rat! As we were going to eat them.
  8. Roll each ball in the sesame seeds or coconut.
  9. Leave in the fridge for a few hours to firm up.
  10. Your ratty delights are now ready!
  11. Store in the fridge in a covered tub for up to 5 or 6 days.
  12. Go on taste one. There actually yummy!

Incredible Rats in the News!

 Find out more about rats with these websites :

Recite a poem dedicated to a little mouse!

Although rats and mice are different species they are distant cousins as they both have an ancient ancestor in common.
Robert Burns penned ‘An ode to a mouse’ in 1785.
He accidentally disturbed a mouse’s nest while he was ploughing his fields.
As a result Burns was inspired to compose a poem as an apology to the little field mouse.

Access the poem here

Have fun deciphering the Scots language!
This website will help:
Listen to a recording of the poem:
Compose your own poem to a little furry creature!


Incredible Rats in the News!

Chucklesome Rodent Jokes!

‘’What should you give a rat to eat on its birthday?
Mice cream!’’
‘’Why did the mouse not go outside?
It was raining cats and dogs!’’

‘’What did a rat say to the other rat as they played bingo?
Let’s hope we get a full mouse!’’
‘’How does a rat feel after taking a bath?
Squeaky Clean!

‘’What do you say to a rat before you take its photo?
Say cheese!’’

‘’What do rats eat for breakfast?
Mice Krispies!’’
‘’What does a rat like to play?
Hide and Squeak!’’

‘’Why should you oil a rat?
Because it squeaks!’’

Incredible Rats in the News!

I hope you enjoyed learning about the Incredible Rat and have a newfound appreciation!

Earth Cadets Education 
Somewhere in the Scottish Highlands!

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Welcome to Earth Cadets Education! The idea of ECE was born in Scotland and is managed by ordinary parents. It fills a gap that is usually missing from todays school curriculum. Its a hub of ideas and resources for your child's Eco-Earth Education. Everyone is welcome, home-schoolers and traditional schoolers alike.

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8 Responses

  1. Tiffany says:

    This is such an informative post! Thanks for sharing ♥️ ♥️ Interested in doing collabs? xx

  2. Wow, what an informative post!

  3. Margaret says:

    I guess everything is a matter of perspective and definitely of understanding. Thanks for sharing this information. I especially appreciated learning about the therapy rats that help children.

  4. Sophie says:

    I knew that rats were quite smart but I had no idea that they were this intelligent, really informative post! x


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