Wednesday, August 7, 2013

To Kill a Rat

cheesechoker / Foter / CC BY
It seems that any time someone wants to justify using a method of killing that causes suffering, they wheel out the rat.  A few years ago a bill that would outlaw killing an animal by drowning was opposed as it might deprive us of the right to drown rats (despite the fact that vermin were already specifically not covered by the law). 

More recently a man in Australia who set illegal steel traps on his property argued this was acceptable because "rats had infested his home from a neighbouring property."  It seems there is no cause of death too egregious, if the animal in question is a rat.

Even more strangely, a man was recently charged with animal abuse when he laid out rat poison and it killed some wild squirrels--which are essentially rats with fluffy tails and also considered 'vermin' when troublesome.  I can only assume that as the poison was sold for the purpose of killing rats, if it had killed only rats there would have been no charges brought? 

Wild rats are very tenacious and adaptable, frustrating moochers to some, terrifying nocturnal intruders to others.  But ultimately they are sentient mammals just like the fluffy squirrel, cat or dog.  So when it comes to deciding whether a method of killing is humane or not, 'it was only a rat' should be no justification, and 'it would be okay for a rat' no defense.


  1. I couldn't agree more. Our family has pet rats, so that does account for some of my love for them. ;)

  2. I've had pet rats too; great animals.