Thursday, 2 October 2014

Oh Rats!

We visited the Wollesley wildlife reserve to check out the bird food and walk around the lakes.  Whilst out on the boardwalks along the side of the River Trent, we spotted a kingfisher at rest in a willow tree across the water.
With my 200mm lens, this is not a classic picture of a kingfisher, but it is enough to see that it is a female, in good health - 'should have brought the binoculars.  I have seen a few kingfishers this week, but they are just a blur of bright blue as they zip past at phenomenal speed.
Amongst the bird feeders in the observation area, I spotted a rodent in the trees.  This really was a tree rat - or rather a brown rat (rattus norvegicus) taking advantage of the overspill of bird food onto the ground.
These rats were sleek and well fed.  they knew exactly where to go for the best pickings and were intent on vacuuming up all of the seed and grain on the ground.  We do not have rats where we live, but down in the city by the river, there tends to be a number of dark and scruffy looking rats that are only seen on rare occasions.  These rats were a different lot altogether.
Of course, the problem with brown rats is that they carry Salmonella typhimurium in their droppings (thoroughly wash hands after handling rat faeces).  This can lead to diarrhoea and occasional vomiting in humans.  They are also potential carriers of weil's (viles) disease or Leptospirosis in  their urine (avoid drinking sewage water or pond water).
I like rats and can appreciate their contribution to the wild ecology - they are survivors.  In towns and cities they are often in conflict with human hygiene practises, but many of the issues are based on human problems and understanding.  The rats get a bad press......

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