Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Rattus rattus Amongus

The pestilent, sewer-seeking, black-furred, tapering-bald-tailed creatures are making the local news in Osh. Last week an appalled newscaster looked firmly into the camera and declared—what everyone already knew—that “We, the good people of Osh, have a rat problem.”

I first noticed the problem last March when one of these furry couriers of death leapt out of the sewer and landed on my shoe. First, I froze. Then I screamed like a little girl. The beady black-eyed whisker-twitching overgrown mouse, calmly looked at me, blinked and scurried away, chuckling quietly behind those beaver-sized incisors of his.

Three months later, in June, another rat scampered right-over both my feet as I returned to work from my lunch. I poured Vodka (a popular disinfectant) over my shoes and then soaked them in bleach for a week. Unfortunately, the shoes eventually succumbed to the chemicals and dissolved, but the point is these four-legged nocturnal scavengers are now “sunlighting” and I resent the effects that their unnatural work ethic has on me and my bi-pedal brethren.

The Rat Facts***

Your average rat can:
• wriggle through a hole no larger than a quarter;
• scale a brick wall as though it had rungs;
• swim half a mile, and tread water for three days;
• gnaw through lead pipes and cinder blocks with chisel teeth that exert an incredible 24,000 pounds per square inch;
• survive being flushed down a toilet, and enter buildings by the same route;
• multiply so rapidly that a pair could have 15,000 descendants in a year's life span;
• plummet five stories to the ground and scurry off unharmed.

After rattling off that list, I also discovered that the black rat (rattus rattus—A.K.A. “the roof rat”) is indigenous to Central Asia and has the rather dubious distinction of being the bearer of the plague that decimated Europe (wiping out over 25% of its population).

This frightening information was brought to you by Larry Tweed, who just finished taping his toilet lid shut and who plans on remaining indoors until the complete and total eratication (hey, I spell things like they sound) of these foul and loathsome monsters.

Historical Note: Little Larry Tweed once kept two white lab rats as pets. Their names were George and Holly respectively. Both rats died under mysterious circumstances. Mr. Tweed was acquitted of all charges.

***The Rat Facts (bulleted above) were brought to you by Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia, because irRATional fears should only be validated and ratified by powerful corporations which control all portals of information.


  • oh no. I have no problem with the furry guys. But Rejoyce does, I dread her reaction. It will involve much 'eews' and oh no!!!s

    ah well...

    By Blogger Trent F. Milam, At 2:47 PM  

  • Larry, not for the first time I laughed out loud at something in your post. Victoria tends to omit some of the more unpleasant details of her sojourn in Kyrgyzstan; your blog tends to fill in some of the more unpleasant details.
    Thanks for the slice of your life.

    By Blogger Deborah, At 12:41 PM  

  • A rat can not tread water for three days straight. I refuse to believe it!

    By Blogger Sean, At 11:34 AM  

  • Something else to look forward to! Please tell me it's not as bad as you make it sound, that I won't wake up with one clinging to my face.

    By Blogger julie, At 4:34 PM  

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