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Rat and Mouse Club of America

S. Anthony Barnett

The story of rats

Some people have a fear of rats, while others keep them as pets. In 'The story of rats', S. Anthony Barnett shows his liking for these creatures, but he doesn't present them as cuddly friends. No, fairly soon we are reading about the diseases they carry and the harm rats do to us. He goes on to look at things from the rats' point of view, with questions such as 'Do rats think?', and a look at agression in rat societies. The book is interesting to read, and is recommended for anyone with an interest in these creatures with which we often share our habitations.

However the book is as much about scientists as it is about rats. Rats have been used in many studies of behaviour, but Barnett warns against explaining rats behaviour in excessively human terms, and also against the opposite extreme of behaviourism. He also shows that the study of tame rats is likely to lead to misleading conclusions, as their social behaviour is very different from that of wild rats. Barnett's research on rats began over sixty years ago. I felt that more autobiographical details would have helped to indicate the time frame of this research. But that's a minor point and what he has to say will certainly be very useful to those wishing to study animal behaviour

Product Description
More than the story of how people and rats live together, this book takes a serious and intriguing look at science and scientists, the problems they solve and fail to solve, and the scope and imperfections of our scientific knowledge of the world. It answers questions such as: Are rats still a threat to human health? Do rats think? Is it true that wild rats sometimes die, unwounded, from social stress? Can studies of rat societies tell us anything useful about our own social lives? This compelling historical and social study will capture the interest of all readers—from those fascinated by rats to those who cringe—by explaining the delicate and sometimes volatile impacts humans and rats have had on each other over the centuries and into the modern age.