Picture of the month - June 2002

Set me free !

Hmmm, rat or mouse? Well, it is a rat - more precise a so-called fancy rat. Not really wild, but from the pet shop ...

"Rilke" was one of the many "Rattus norvegicus"  we had over the recent years as pets (up to five at the same time), and while many (too many?) persons are - cautiously expressed - horrified of our flat's occupants we more and more started enjoying the presence of those nosy, cheeky and smart creatures.

We realised, that the broadbanded disgust at rats is more "homemade", i.e. aquired than a really obvious one. The difference to a mouse - much more accepted by the masses - is rather limited, and rats are more cleanly than one can imagine. And the famous stories about rats as the (sole) transmitters of diseases in former times is not the full truth - as the same diseases can be  transmitted as well by many other animals.

However - the only thing pals like "Rilke" brought to us was endless fun. And the only problem with them was, that they always died ways too early - a problem caused by human beings : Most ancestors from today's rat pets descend from experimental animals, where they were raised to have a mutliple set of diseases such as high blood pressure or cancer. Just to help testing and proving new medicine for us ... Today's pet rats reach around the age of 2 years, while it's wild partners in nature can get up to seven years old!

Maybe from that faith of an uncounted number of those lab-rats the title of this picture derived - although this single, special animals only risk in life was to reach a body volume not fitting to the cage's door any more (he was rather greedy ...)

To add: All our rats had names from famous German writers (my wife is German teacher ...),. just if you wondered about the name ...

From a more technical point of view this picture costed quite a lot of film material  due to the macro with it's small depth of focus and the not graspable impudence of Rilke to nervously move around while I tried to get a shot. The grain on the picture derives from the high-speed film material which was Kodak's TMAX 3200 - a property I really appreciate (both the speed for available light photography and the grain for it's special expression it adds to black and white). The camera was my former EOS 50E and I used the EF 100/2.8 Macro lens I still work with. Due to the mentioned restlessness of our friend the use of a tripod was anyhow impossible ...

Have fun with photography (and rats :-)