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Thursday July 24, 2003

Rat babies and the miracle of life

Today in the lab one of our pregnant females finally gave birth to a big litter of little hairless rat babies. Her delivery was perfect, and right on time. I missed the actual birth, but got to see how she and her pups behaved shortly after. The little ratties were covered in a bloody yuckiness that mom dutifully cleaned off for them. The helpless pups, who looked a lot like 3-month old human fetuses, were cared for by this rat who never spent a day in lamaze, and had no doctor helping her birth. She just knew what to do. I had read up on rodent breeding a few weeks ago to prepare for our new babies, so I knew to expect such instinctual behavior. What I did not expect, however, was my wonder and amazement while watching this rat lick her babies one by one. I'm still in awe that such an animal, considered worthless and disgusting by most human populations, could so gently handle these inch-long newborns without ever being shown how to do so. I am reminded of these verses in Job:

Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? Do you observe the calving of the deer? Can you number the months that they fulfill, and do you know the time when they give birth, when they crouch to give birth to their offspring, and are delivered of their young? Job 39:1-4

As much as I know about rodent breeding from reading all of the books and papers, I now realize that I am a complete dumbass, and can not possibly comprehend the wonder of life. What instinct and ability God gave this rat, he did not give to me... and this is an animal that until recently, I so despised like everyone else. But she is a creature that is as unique as any other, and is as amazing as any other. Seriously, I know nothing. And I am truly in awe. Yes, over a rat. Oh my goodness.


ha! fat bastard has you wrapped around his little paw doesn't he?!

Seriously, though, you're right--life is an amazing thing. I remember the first time I saw a foal being born I thought my heart would just burst from the wonderment of it.

sabrina on July 25, 2003 04:28 PM

Wow, that is a beautiful story. I guess humans rely on the generation passing of information, instead of instinct. I'm sure we could tap into it somehow...

Christia on July 27, 2003 12:26 AM

I'm just about to have my second litter of rats and I never tire of the wonder of life when my little baby rats grow up only to do the same thing over again. It trully is a miracle.

Melissa on January 8, 2005 07:41 PM