Instinctive distaste of rats

Mice are more an annoyance. Squirrels, not the same. Prairie dogs and chipmunks, are cute and stay out of our way. We admire the industry of the beaver, and make pets of guinea pigs, hamsters, and gerbils. But the lowly rat, destroyer of stored stuffs and vector of diseases, with their furtive ways and hairless tails, chew their way into places where they are not welcome and breed revulsion, if not fear.

Lava mouse 'Malpaisomys insularis,' a mouse with pink ears, light brown above, white feet and undersides 'Pseudomys gouldii,' a small brown mouse with lighter undersides, from 'Mammals of Australia' by John Gould 'Conilurus albipes,' a small gray-brown mouse with white undersides, including under its hairy tail, from 'Mammals of Australia' by John Gould 'Megalomys luciae,' a rat the size of a cat, sitting on his hind legs, photo by Vassil of a stuffed specimen in the Great Gallery of Evolution at the National Museum of Natural History, Paris 'Oryzomys antillarum' skull, from a thesis by C. E. Ray 'Notomys longicaudatus,' a gray mouse, dark on the top, pale on the underside, with a long tail and long rear legs, from 'The zoology of the voyage of the H.M.S. Erebus & Terror' 'Rattus nativitatis,' a large dark brown mouse with a small head and large body, and a short tail, from 'A monograph of Christmas Island' by Charles William Andrews 'Rattu's macleari,' a brown rat with a long tail, half black and half gray, from Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1887 'Apodemus sylvaticus hirtensis,' a small brown mouse with black ears and eyes, a screenshot from a video by Jack Hynes 'Geocapromys thoracatus,' a brown furred rodent like a guinea pig, photograph of stuffed specimen from the Harvard Museum of Natural History / Peabody Museum 'Leporillus apicalis,' a gray mouse with white undersides and three dark strips on its face, from 'Mammals of Australia' by John Gould 'Melomys rubicola,' a gray-brown rat (reddish brown above and greyish brown undersides, with black guard hairs on its back) with pink ears and feet, photo from Government of Queensland, Australia, Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) website

Lava mouse

This brown mouse, living in fissures in the lava fields, may have been driven extinct after humans and their dogs arrived on the Canary Islands.

Gould’s mouse

This small brown mouse lived inland in eastern Australia. It was exterminated by cats, or outcompeted by introduced mice and rats, or died of introduced diseases or was negatively affected by livestock grazing and altered land management.

White-footed rabbit-rat

This rat was nocturnal and lived in eucalyptus woodlands in south-eastern Australia. The size of a kitten, the mother carried its young attached to her teats. It was done in by cats, invasive rats, and the demise of the Aboriginal practice of burning before planting.

Saint Lucia giant rice rat

The Saint Lucia pilorie, a.k.a. the Saint Lucia giant rice rat, the size of a small cat, lived on the island of Saint Lucia in the eastern Caribbean. The last living specimen died in the London Zoo in 1852.

Jamaican rice rat

The small Asian mongoose introduced to Jamaica in the late 19th century to control black rats and snakes in the sugarcane fields is probably what drove the rice rat with its rusty brown back, lighter underside, and naked tail to its extinction.

Long-tailed hopping mouse

This mouse with pink ears that hopped, with a body four inches long and pink hairy tail six to seven inches, burrowed in stiff clay soils near Alice Springs, Australia, until predation and habitat alteration made it scarce or nonexistent.

Bulldog rat

The bulldog rat of Christmas Island lived on high and dense forests in burrows among roots and never bothered anyone but succumbed to a disease carried by black rats brought in boats to the island.

Maclear’s rat

This large rat with grizzled brown fur and lighter brown undersides probably controlled the population of the Christmas Island red crab until invasive black rats infected it with a trypanosome.

St Kilda house mouse

This small brown mouse, probably introduced unintentionally to the St Kilda islands in Scotland during the Norse period, lived in the homes of the St Kildans until the people were evacuated in 1930 whereupon the mice starved.

Little Swan Island hutia

This brown-furred hutia the size of a rabbit shaped like a rat but with a short hairy tail, was driven to extinction by a hurricane and house cats.

Lesser or white-tipped stick-nest rat

This rat built nests of sticks in central Australia. The older the nest, the bigger the nest. The rat was easily tamed and people ate it. Reportedly, the meat was white, tender, and tasty.

Bramble Cay melomys

The Bramble Cay mosaic-tailed rat, the only mammal endemic to the Great Barrier Reef, was done in by sea-level rise, that is, by human-caused climate change. This isolated rodent, known to have been imperiled, perished before an expedition could be approved to rescue it, so it was done in also by bureaucracy.