“Are those ferrets?” the guy two seats down from me asked. Between us a girl had just sat down and placed an animal carrying case on her lap. She opened it up, took one of the two critters out, cuddled and kissed him. Ferrets? I knew better. Yes, their little black faces were cute. But I’d recognize those tails anywhere. I had done a rat dissection at the beginning of the semester and the thing I had the most trouble getting past were the tails. They just creeped me out. Cut open human bodies? No problem. I can do that. Rats? Ugh.
So rat girl proceeds to tell dreadlocks guy that no, they are not ferrets. They are, indeed, rats. “Really?” he asks. Like any activist dedicated to her cause, she takes this as the opportunity to explain to us how it is she’s come to have them. “They were used in experiments at Columbia. After the students are finished with them, if they don’t take them home then they just put them in the freezer.” She’s part of a rat rescue. Yes, you read that correctly. A rat rescue.
Dreadlocks guy was fascinated. As was I. We peppered her with more questions, which she gladly answered. Turns out she was on her way to Scarsdale to do a home visit. Yes, if you want a rat, your home has to be up to snuff. And if you know anything about Scarsdale, you’ll realize how wild this whole thing is. If you don’t know about Scarsdale, I’ll just say this: I don’t think there exists a home in that town that’s not up to snuff for a King, let alone a rat.
Dreadlocks guy excused himself to catch his train, but not before wishing her well in her work. I continued to question her. As she told me how she got involved in rescuing rats, I looked in this girl’s eyes Then gave her a once over. She was beautiful. And dressed like she was going to Scarsdale. You’d think she was carrying a priceless diamond in that box. And by the way she talked about these animals, they were just that.
In fact, the family she was going to visit considered getting their daughter a rabbit. But then heard about the rats. “They’re much more playful than rabbits,” my new friend explained. She was right. I had rabbits growing up. These little guys were definitely more interactive with her than my rabbits had ever been with me.
“Rats get a bad rap. People see these guys and they think they’re cute until they hear the word ‘rats.’ The word just sets people off. Those ones in the subway? They’re just hungry. Like any other critters.”
I had to catch my train, but thanked her for sharing her story and wished her well.