Resource 5: A rat’s tale
Read the story below for yourself and think how you might use it in your science lesson.
‘The Rat Snake and the Rats’
A rat snake lived in an anthill on the edge of a rice field. It ate the rats that came to the field and the godown. One day the snake was very hungry and chased a rat that came near the godown. But the rat was very clever – she ran fast and escaped into the godown. The snake slithered off to find another rat.
Our rat now could eat all the rice she wanted without worrying for a while. Like other rats, she eats about 50 grams of rice a day.
One day the rat gave birth to eight babies. A mother rat produces babies in three weeks. The rat and her babies grew up without fear as the farmer tending the field had killed the snake because he did not know that rat snakes are not poisonous and are harmless to humans.
Very soon the rat’s eight babies grew up and started eating rice.
Baby rats can produce more rats at an age of about five weeks. All of them eat the rice in the godown. Six weeks later our first rat has become a grandma and four of her babies now have babies of their own – eight each!
In five weeks these babies start eating rice and now many rats are all eating 50 grams of rice a day. One rat eats 1.5 kilograms of grains in 30 days but rats eat not only rice but also any grain they can find, even cooked food and vegetables. They also carry many germs and cause disease among humans. Of course, the godown has many other rats too so the population continues to grow.
How do you think rats affect us? What could we do to limit the number of rats without being cruel? Why should we do this?