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Black Rats

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themoog
155982.  Tue Mar 13, 2007 5:22 am Reply with quote

This thread had me reminding myself of The Shiant Islands and as a result I came across this quote on Wikipedia:
"apart from one or two small islands in the Firth of Forth, the Shiants are the only place in the UK where the black rat or ship's rat (Rattus rattus) can still be found."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shiant_Islands

Is that true? I can't find any reference to it but I thought there were still populations at some UK ports.

Anyone got anything on the Black Rat?

 
strukkanurv
156031.  Tue Mar 13, 2007 6:51 am Reply with quote

Of unknown origin, I believe.

 
Mulvil
156036.  Tue Mar 13, 2007 7:06 am Reply with quote

Quote:
Black rats are now one of the rarest mammals in the UK, but persist mainly around port towns, such as Liverpool, London, the Shiant Islands (Inner Hebrides) and Lundy island. They are subject to persistent pest control due to the damage they cause and the numerous diseases they spread, including bubonic plague, typhus and rabies
.

According to the BBC


http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/wildfacts/factfiles/272.shtml

 
themoog
156127.  Tue Mar 13, 2007 10:07 am Reply with quote

Thanks for that.

The Mammal Society state they were accidentally introduced in around 200AD.
http://www.abdn.ac.uk/mammal/history.shtml

 
kimagi
160876.  Wed Mar 28, 2007 3:02 pm Reply with quote

I saw a documentary a few years ago about the black death and how rats were not responsible ie not bubonic plague. I've been looking out for it on the documentary channels but have not seen it again. Anyone know what the title was, or whether this was ever considered a credible theory? Or is there a book?

 
Ameena
160917.  Wed Mar 28, 2007 5:25 pm Reply with quote

The rats weren't directly responsible for the Black Death, no - the disease was carried by the rat flea, which of course lived on the rats. I wonder what the attitude would've been like if it had been a type of flea living on dogs or cats - would they have taken a sudden popularity hit in the kept-as-pets department, I wonder...

 
96aelw
160929.  Wed Mar 28, 2007 5:49 pm Reply with quote

They thought it was, and they did take just such a hit. Defoe, the web tells me, in his Journal Of The Plague Year (I haven't got a copy, so I haven't been able to check) estimated that 40,000 dogs and 200,000 cats were killed in efforts to halt the spread of the disease during the 1665 London plague.

As to kimagi's query, there is some doubt about the identification of the 14th century Black Death with Bubonic Plague these days, in part due to the Black Death's significant death toll in the then ratless Iceland, as well as based on doubts that the climate would have been suitable for the relevant bacterium. Other candidates have included forms of anthrax and of ebola. There are several books, it seems. The wiki page for the Black Death has what looks like a pretty good summmary of this, as well as the titles of a number of the books in which these arguments are advanced.

 
kimagi
160934.  Wed Mar 28, 2007 6:00 pm Reply with quote

Ameena wrote:
The rats weren't directly responsible for the Black Death, no - the disease was carried by the rat flea, which of course lived on the rats. I wonder what the attitude would've been like if it had been a type of flea living on dogs or cats - would they have taken a sudden popularity hit in the kept-as-pets department, I wonder...


Sorry didn't make myself clear - I know rats weren't responsible per se I meant that the documentary claimed that the black death wasn't bubonic plague at all, can't remember which disease they claimed it was. I'd love to see the documentary again though

 
kimagi
160938.  Wed Mar 28, 2007 6:36 pm Reply with quote

96aelw wrote:
Other candidates have included forms of anthrax and of ebola. There are several books, it seems. The wiki page for the Black Death has what looks like a pretty good summmary of this, as well as the titles of a number of the books in which these arguments are advanced.



Had a look at the wiki page, neither ebola nor anthrax seem to ring a bell, could be wrong though. I do seem to remember something along the lines of a pulmonary disease so I suppose anthrax, but I'm not sure. Never heard the bit about Iceland before, thanks for that

 
BondiTram
161048.  Thu Mar 29, 2007 5:32 am Reply with quote

If black rats were not responsible for the Black Death, should we all be apologising and making reparations?

 
samivel
161050.  Thu Mar 29, 2007 5:34 am Reply with quote

lol

 
Deborah09
632109.  Mon Nov 02, 2009 6:00 am Reply with quote

Other than I would never want to find a black rat. Aren't they supposed to be dangerous? I really do not know anything about them.

 
Ameena
632392.  Mon Nov 02, 2009 6:49 pm Reply with quote

Dangerous? Are you thinking about the whoel plague thing? That was carried by the rat flea. If it had been carried by a type of flea that lived on dogs or cats, I wonder what would have happened then...
I don't imagine they're any more dangerous than any other type of rodent. Anyway, there's probably a bunch of links in this thread to other ratty pages, so you might want to check that out if you want more info :). Note that pet rats come from the brown rat, "rattus norvegicus", not the black rat, "rattus rattus". They're bloody gorgeous, anyway :).

 

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