I was sleepin' like a rat, When I heard something jerkin'. There stood Rita, Lookin' just like Tony Perkins.The most widespread form of "life" in Washington is the common Norway Rat, which completely owns the miserable District. Like most stunned bumpkins forced by bad luck or weird morals to the nation's foul capital, the new editor of Reason magazine is horrified to find that dog-sized vermin live in every home, even the White House.

The editor in question (Matt Welch) hates his pregnant wife so much that he moved her from a beautiful palm-lined street in Southern California to a rickety "row house" in the rat ghetto. Here are some of his terrible observations.

"Some time soon after the beginning of the Chinese Year of the Rat," he writes, "my pregnant wife walked downstairs and reached for her bag on the couch, and out jumped a plump young rodent."

Other fun facts about the D.C. Rat:

* "Rats carry as many as 35 diseases, including ratbite fever, salmonella food poisoning and leptospirosis, a flu-like illness. During the past 1,000 years, disease specialists say, the rapidly reproducing rodents have caused more deaths than all the wars and revolutions combined."

* "The National Zoo has such a bad infestation that two adult pandas were killed by rat poison a few years back."

* "Dozens of rats run through Dupont Circle park, day and night. Sitting on the park benches, particularly on the outer perimeter, can be a horrifying experience. There are tremendous rat holes around the grassy outer perimeter of the park, especially in the quadrant closest to the Sun Trust Bank, housing entire families of rats. In one particularly traumatic situation, a rat jumped into an infant's stroller, possibly to get at the formula in the baby's milk bottle."

City of rats [Reason]

Rats as big as cats [Washington Post]

Dupont Circle Rats [PDF]


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