March 7, 2013

Fred, the Rat Whisperer


DSC09157EThe phone rang about 10:30 p. m. on Friday, Febraury 8, 2013. Seeing it was my friend Fred from Alabama I picked it up.

“Greetings,” I started.

“Did you know it’s the year of the snake?”

“Say what?”

“It’s the Chinese year of the snake.”

“Oh,” I said, wondering what the relevance was and thinking about a former Laurel Mountain Borough (PA) resident, Steve Harwig, who won local fame for his snake hunting.

Fred was off on a tangent.

“You know, in China dragons are good things. In our culture dragons are something to slay.”

Hmmm…perhaps Fred is a dragon and I can slay him.

Back to the snakes…and rats.

200px-Rattus_norvegicus_1“I raised rats once for the sole purpose of being food for snakes,” he said.

 I wasn’t deterred. After all, in the sixties I had worked in research at Roswell Park Memorial Institute, a well-known hospital and cancer research institute.  I’d also worked in a research lab at the State University of New York. Both were in Buffalo, New York.

Part of each job was working with mice for research, including raising them, sorting them by sex, and injecting them with something I cannot remember.

He told me he took about a hundred rats per month to the pet store to be used as snake treats.

“How much did you sell them for?”

“About a dollar each. I calculated it to be $3.00 per pound,” he said. “Remember, that was (more…)

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