Friday, February 27, 2004


hello i am rugby and this is a NEW science poll for readers of the best blog, *Rugby's rat resort*. okay the question.

which is more lovely?


or this:

you can print this page and make an X by the one you choose. you are allowed to pick both if you want. i think they are both pretty but UNCLE BOB WONT GIVE ME ANY!

I would just like to interject that, although it's true I've never given Rugby cheeseburgers or cupcakes, he does get to eat a pretty broad diet of "people food" in addition to the commercial rodent mix of seeds and pellets from the pet store. Rats are "opportunistic omnivores," just as pet dogs are, despite the fact that wild dogs are primarily carnivores, while wild rats mainly eat plant-derived foods.

I give Rugby fresh produce every day -- sometimes a chunk of apple or an orange slice; other times a carrot-top or salad greens. A few times a week he gets a bit of dry dog kibble, which was recommended in one of the rat-care books that I checked out from the library -- that's the closest he's gotten so far to eating beef, unless you want to count the dried bull pizzles that are sold in pet stores as doggie chew toys. Rodents have an even stronger chewing urge than dogs, so I bought a pack of these "beef sticks" to hang from the ceiling of his cage.

excuse me but what is a "pizzle"?

Rugby, you already had your turn to talk. Go look it up on dictionary.com if you're curious.


Uncooked macaroni and whole grains (like brown rice or bulghar wheat) add variety and nutrients to his diet. And once in a while I will share small amounts of human "junk food," like potato-chip crumbs or a piece of cookie.

ah-ha-ha-ha-ha! ha-ha-ha! i am glad i am a rat and not a dumb beefcow! tee-hee-hee-hee!!! give me some pizzle fo shizzle!

So far the only thing he hasn't gone for is milk -- I poured a little bit into a jar lid to see if Rugby would lap it up, the way these sacred rats do at the famous Karni Mata temple in the Indian state of Rajasthan. He just ignored it, although I wonder if that's because he's accustomed to drinking from a drip-bottle.

well, there is that, but also the fact that it came from a cow's boob!! but now that i know what those pizzle things are that i have been chewing on all this time, maybe i will give milk another try.


  Gotta rent a U-Haul

After 8 months in the uncomfortable limbo of living with mom and dad again in your 30s -- not that I'm complaining; other people got hit by the post-dotcom recession a lot harder than I did -- I will be moving to a swingin' bachelor pad in Alexandria, VA next weekend. Woo-hoo, I get to... uh... let's see... well, I'll be able to eat dinner in my underwear if I want, so that's an improvement.

well i eat my dinner stark raving naked! it is better being a rat. by the way i liked the chex cereal with peanut butter. make that again plz!!


Thursday, February 26, 2004

  Alternative page graphic

Here's the other logo I devised for the page. Rugby likes this one because it incorporates his whiskered little schnozz, but I thought it might startle people to see him all red and glow-y, like the cover of a pulp horror novel:

[Edit: After viewing both graphics on my monitor at work, I decided to go with the one Rugby preferred, so you can now view it above. So much for giving the masses a voice. --U.B.]

i am a scary D E V I L rat!!!! yes lets use this one plz. the other one is too sissy

Well, I think we should let the readers decide which graphic to use -- we'll give them a few days to vote by clicking on the Talk to Me link and leaving a comment. That's called "democracy," Rugby.

i think the ideal form of gummint would be a me-riiiiit-ocracy. Get it? me, RAT, ocracy! ha-ha, i will enslave you all!


Wednesday, February 25, 2004


Hey, Rugby, we got a letter! It reads:

Pictures, oh where are the pictures? To Rugby: Hello! Are you a boy or girl rat? How old are you?What is your favorite food?Do you like Barney (the dinosaur)?*

*Questions courtesy of Madison, age 2 1/2.

don't give me tsuris over the pictures, primate. maybe i am too little to use a camera, but i doubt you could swim through a sewer pipe and up a toilet u-bend if you had to. BUT i can, perhaps when you least expect it, ha-ha!

Rugby, that's no way to talk to company. Anyway, I have pictures here that I took on a recent Bring Your Rat To Work Day. (It was not officially Bring Your Rat To Work Day, but I decided it was high time to start one. Lead by example, that's what the Boy Scouts taught me.) So...

Here is a picture of Rugby searching the Rolodex on Uncle Bob's desk. Behind him you can see a plant growing in a Coca-Cola bottle and a wooden bear toy from Russia.

isn't uncle bob's desk a mess? it is worse than yasser arafat's! that's okay by me because i like to do inspections of new things

...and here is Rugby checking out the telephone. It's not easy getting a rat in sharp focus -- he rarely stands still for more than a second!

To answer Madison's first question, Rugby is a boy -- as you can clearly see in the telephone picture, male rats have extremely large testes for their body size. (This is true of rodents in general, if you ever need to separate hamsters or gerbils by sex -- even when they are very young, males will have a "pointier" rump because of the developing testes. And when they're mature, well, there's just no mistaking.)

As to question #2, we don't know exactly how old Rugby is, but he was still a juvenile rat when he came home from the pet store, so we can guess that he's about four months old. I'll let Rugby answer the last two questions.

my favorite food is anything new! i cant help myself and always get excited if it's something i haven't tried before. but if you want to bribe me, try sunflower seeds which are full of fatty energy, and grapes which are sweet and full of water.

i dont know who this barney is but i have heard that ratlike creechurs used to eat dinosaur eggs! on a scale of 1 to 10 how delicious would a raw dinosaur egg taste right now? i think maybe 11


  One question

this place where u r thinking about moving:
will there be oxygen???
it is attention to such details as these that make rats the gold star champeens of mammalian evolution.

Yes, the apartment I looked at is in Alexandria. Not only is there oxygen, but there's plenty of sunlight for the potted plants that Rugby likes to crawl around in, and high-speed Internet access so that we can blog more easily on the weekends. Plus, it's just minutes on foot (for a human) from the West End Dinner Theater! Isn't that swell?

it depends. the music man or anything goes is ok, but sondheim makes me want to B I T E !@!!


  Photos to come

Spent yesterday evening transferring some pics of Ruggers from my digital camera to the computer and getting them retouched and resized for the Web. Flopped down on the bed to read while waiting for the phone line to free up, promptly nodded off. The next thing I knew is was 3:30 am, my contacts were fusing to my corneas, and Rugby was curled up on the pillow under my neck, just a roll-over away from being crushed to rat jelly. I put him back in his cage, removed the ladder, and went to sleep.

i am too fast to get crushed by your giant head. i like it on the bed because it is soft and also because there are new things to see and smell all the time. my house is always the same except for new foodstuffs.

on the bed sometimes there are soft cloths to crawl under. sometimes the cloth is flat and square and smells like april fresh flowers or a lemon potpourri. sometimes the cloths is in a pile like a mountain and smells like uncle bob's feet which is not bad either i think.

last night there was something new on the bed. it was a round cardboard tunnel of the kind that is in my house sometimes. when i went into the tunnel it was dark for a ways and then came out into a large room that smelled like triscuits!!! there were not triscuits though that i could find.

i will go back tomorrow maybe.

I'll post the pics of The Rat this evening; I was also working on a nice pink monochrome title graphic to pull the page together visually.

This morning I submitted an application for an apartment in Alexandria; knock wood I'll be signing the lease on 6 March and moving shortly thereafter. Won't be too much longer before I've got high-speed Internet access from home, as I did in NYC.  

Posted by Rugby the Rat | 1:15 PM |

Tuesday, February 24, 2004


i am rugby! i am a rat!

today's menu is: orange! seeds, lettuce.

i am waiting for the ladder to come. it is boring in my house. i would rather go down the ladder. sometimes there is a ladder down from my house to the soft bed and sometimes the ladder is not!

i like to make tunnels under the quilt on the bed, when the ladder is there.
i'm thirsty.
okay i'm back.


  Welcome, readers, to Rugby's Rat Resort!

Please, as the Russians say, будьте как дома -- bood-teh kuhk doh-muh -- make yourself at home. Rugby welcomes all children and their adult friends to his fabulous web page. In order to make this page a pleasant place for rats and non-rats alike, we ask that you follow a few simple rules:

(1) No cussing in the comments section! You can say "Darn," or "Lawsy sakes," or "Great Flamin' Cheese and Rice on a Pogo Stick," but remember that this is a family-friendly site and that rats have sensitive ears.

(2) We frown on moms who eat their babies, no matter how big the litter is and no matter how frazzled you are!

(3) Guests should heed advisory signs where posted, for example:




Except on days ending in '-y'

~ The Management     

(4) Please check all cats, owls, snakes, and carnival geeks at the security desk before entering Rugby's Rat Resort

Posted by Rugby the Rat | 11:47 AM |

Monday, February 23, 2004

  Some dry facts about the domesticated rat's ancestry:
Norway rats are presently cosmopolitan in distribution, having been spread throughout the world by cargo ships. They are typically ground dwellers as opposed to black rats, Rattus rattus, which tend to climb more. Norway rats build underground burrows that contain long branching tunnels, multiple exits, and chambers for food storage and nests (Whitaker, 1980; Nowack, 1991). When inhabiting buildings they usually are found in the lower levels, occupying cellars and basements, and thriving in sewers (Nowak, 1991). They are common in cities and suburban areas throughout the Gulf states. They also occur in crop fields, well away from human habitations (Lowery, 1974). The typical home range for this species is between 25 and 150 m in diameter (Nowak, 1991). In the wild, they may live up to three years, but few live beyond two years of age, with most surviving only one year (Davis, 1948a; Whitaker, 1980). Davis (1951e) estimated an overall mortality rate of 95% year, and a 97.5% mortality rate for weaned rats. Usually movements and migration are relatively rare (Davis, 1951e). However, when conditions of crowding occur, Norway rats may carry out mass migrations (Whitaker, 1980).

Reproduction and Fecundity: Norway rats reproduce throughout the year with peaks in spring (March-June) and fall (September-October) (Davis, 1951b). Females may bear as many as 12 litters per year of 2-22 young each. However, typically they bear 5 litters of 7-11 young (Lowery, 1974; Whitaker, 1980). Davis (1951e) reported an average of 8.7 young per litter, and 4.3 pregnancies per year based on pregnancy data of several hundred thousand Norway rats from cities of the United States and India. Because of high suckling mortality rates, this author estimated an average of 10 young weaned per female, per year. There is a postpartum estrus within 18 hours of birth (Nowak, 1991). Young are born naked and blind. They open their eyes in two weeks and are weaned at 3-4 weeks (Lowery, 1974; Whitaker, 1980). Females may begin to breed at three months of age (Whitaker, 1980).

Trophic Interactions: Norway rats are omnivorous. They feed on meat, insects, wild plants, seeds, stored grains, soap, hides, paper, etc. (Whitaker, 1980; Nowak, 1991). Norway rats have been reported to prefer animal matter (Whitaker, 1980; Nowak, 1991). They will kill poultry, feed on eggs, and are excellent at catching fish (Whitaker, 1980; Nowak, 1991). Mice and newly born farm animals such as lambs and pigs have also been reported as food items (Nowak, 1991).

Major predators include snakes, owls, hawks, skunks, weasels, minks, cats, and dogs (Whitaker, 1980). Mortality due to intraspecific conflicts and cannibalism is high (Lowery, 1974).


Friday, February 20, 2004

  Rugby says Hi!

no i didn't say that. i am busy grooming now. glossy fur doesnt happen by itself. bye!

Rugby the Rat was an intellectually gifted representative of the species Rattus norvegicus; now he dwelleth on a higher plane and aspires to become a member of the Hindu pantheon. But he still likes food.

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