In 1831, Mr Charles Darwin set sail on the
HMS Beagle. It
was a five year voyage that would take the young zoologist to almost
every corner of the southern hemisphere as he gathered evidence that
would eventually lead to his realisation of the theory of evolution. ( A
realisation seemingly formed in parallel with the sadly less well known
Wallace.) His own
account is a fascinating, and oft exciting read, and I commend it to
you. - Professor Whitman
We're jolly impressed with all that. So much so that we mean to
emulate the good Mr Darwin. However, we don't do things by halves here,
and so we will search the depths of not one single world, but an entire multiverse, in our
ongoing effort to bring you all that is wondrous in the tellurian! Er,
assuming we can get everyone out of bed, of course. - Arkenor
Mankind and the rat have been locked in combat since the dawn of civilisation. The Egyptians deified their cats for their rodent-catching prowess. The rat, in it's turn has plundered our food reserves, and spread diseases such as cholera and the black death. Small wonder that a large part of the life of the newbie is spent pounding these fiends. Fiends such as the creature below!
Cyndylon's Rat hint. If a bloke magically
disappears your rat problem, don't jip on the payment. Ye'd be surprised
'ow many folk don't see the connection between someone 'oo can make 'ole
populations o' beasties vanish, and the possibility that 'e might be bad
to piss off.
While there is an infestitude of rats in most cities, it is hard to
imagination a single rat being a worthy opponent for a man. There have
been accounts of more robust specimens from time to time. That worthy
chronicler, Dr John Watson, is said to have left such an account in his
much desired deposit box at Cox and co. It is at this point I turn to a
greater authority upon the matter.
The Giant Rat of Sumatra
(From Fauna in
the Canon, by Ronald Rosenblatt)
Surely the most
tantalizing creature mentioned in the Holmes memoirs
is the Giant Rat of Sumatra, which somehow managed to
infest the unhappy ship Matilda Briggs in so terrible
a fashion as to leave behind a tale "for which the
world is not yet prepared," or at least was not
prepared for at the time of the case of the Sussex
Vampire (who turned out to be only the mischievous
Master Jacky and not, unfortunately for those of
zoological bent, a South American bat of unpleasant
dietary habits known as Desmodus rotundus.) Now we may
fruitfully speculate on the identity of this
mysterious rodent, the Giant Rat, and we may, in fact,
offer a speculative suggestion as to its true name and
There can be no question that giant tropical rats do,
in fact, exist. The African giant rat (Cricetomys
gambianus) is found in Tropical Africa, where it is
highly esteemed as food, and often reaches a length of
nearly three feet from nose-tip to tail-tip. These
giant rats are often accompanied by a highly unusual
parasite, a "weird, wingless cockroach," (Hemimerus
talpoides) nearly one inch in length. This creature
will be found described on page 218 of Desmond Morris'
The Mammals (Harper & Row, 1965). We may also mention
in passing the Indian giant squirrel (Ratufa indica)
another rodent that reaches a length of three feet.
Thus, there is nothing in the least preposterous about
a giant Sumatran rat. We must briefly consider as well
whether the Giant Rat of Sumatra may have been merely
an unusually big specimen of the common ship rat
(Rattus rattus), since these creatures, though it is
not well known, often grow to truly impressive size,
as large as a rabbit or a cat. Such a creature might
easily grow up on the wharves of a Sumatran seaport
before slipping aboard the unsuspecting Matilda Briggs
to wreak its terrible crimes. Such a creature might
easily have carried the bubonic plague aboard the
ship, and if the Matilda Briggs had then docked at
London or other European seaports, Holmes might have
been very wise in keeping the story a secret, as the
panic resultant from such news might have been very
However, there is another possibility in this question
which to the author's knowledge has never been
suggested before. There lives on the island of
Sumatra, as well as in Southern Asia and on the island
of Borneo, a very curious animal called a "Moon Rat".
This animal's scientific name is Echinosorex gymnurus.
While it is not in fact a rat, being more closely
related to the hedgehogs, its appearance is very
rat-like, with long sharp snout and whisker, hairy
body and long naked tail. This creature reaches a body
length of sixteen inches with an eight inch tail, or a
total length of twenty-four inches, or two feet.
Surely this is giant enough for anyone's taste. Could
this animal be the very creature we seek? A giant
"rat" indigenous to Sumatra does indeed answer our
needs. Most interesting is the following statement
about the Sumatran Moon Rat by Desmond Morris: "Anal
glands secrete a musky substance that gives these
animals their highly characteristic smell. This is so
distinctive that it has even been made the subject of
native legends." (Page 80, The Mammals.) Might this
perhaps be the key that unlocks why the world was not
yet prepared for the story of the Sumatran rat? Was it
merely Victorian prudishness that forced Holmes to
keep silent on the Matilda Briggs affair? Was some
native deviltry or voodoo involved in the case? No
doubt we shall know the answers to these questions
UO Rat Facts - Rats are found in many of Britannia's towns and dungeons. The center of rat activity would seem to be the sewers of Britain, which are infested by both sewer rats and
giants rats. This splendid place for novice warriors to practice their skills with little fear of being murdered. Giant rats are worthy of an amount of caution, but only the rawest of recruits need fear the sewer rat, except perhaps when it has friends... I sent my brother Alfric down to take a look.
Yes, here we see examples of both sorts of rat. They are quite aggressive, and have a tendency to mob the unwary. Luckily Alfric is wisely dispatching the 2 weaker rats before dealing with the larger. I, er, think most of that blood's theirs. When he is done I'm sure he'll be sure to remove their tasty flesh to add to our guild mystery meat mountain.
EQ Rat Facts - Scruffy the Rat is a pleasant-mannered giant rat who
frequents the Qeynos Hills. Legend has it that Scruffy is connected to
Tovax Vmar, and that the number of times Scruffy dies in the day, will
determine the number of times Tovax appears that night. (Yer mess wi'
Scruffy, yer mess wi' me! - Cyndylon)
Rat ears and firebeetle eyes may be combined to make the barely
palatible edible goo. Sadly this is the main source of nutrition for
many Qeynos based necromancers.
Tales are told of the pied rat. A noble beast, it offered to eradicate Freeport's bard infestation for the low low price of a few blocks of cheese. Alas, upon discovering that cheese did not exist it bitterly dealt itself 32000 points of damage, and vanished, dashing the hopes of all right-thinking citizens.
Menkes Tabolet, a Qeynos merchant, has built an entire career from
selling shoddy rat based products. Don't fall for his witty sales
patter. Rat is most definitely out this season. His snake fang necklace is somewhat more useful.
Renowned Qeynos catacomb beggar, Vin Molter, is partial to Rat Ear pie.
"Take one cup of flour, baking spirits, and a giant rat ear. Stir in a
mixing bowl, and then cook til brown. Then give it to me. Goes perfectly
with a few bottles o' Khalish, if you get me meaning, squire.", said the
gourmet vagabond last time he collered me for change.
I encountered this large rat during my exploration of the Qeynos Catacombs.
AC Rat Facts - Dereth is home to a peculiar animal part collecting
craze. The collectors will pretty much pay for any old tat you care to
give them. Rat tails are no exception. The prices paid by these obsessives are:
White/Tan/Russet Rat Tail - 75p
Grey Rat Tail - 120p
Brown Rat Tail - 200p
Black Rat Tail - Stamina Potion
Grey Rat Tail - 120p
One of the Professor's students encountered a couple of these on a dig in Yaraq. As you can see they are quite vicious (perhaps ill-tempered at being so badly modelled), and were quite intent in lodging their daggerlike incisors in young Tamara's throat. These are white rats, the weakest of their kind, and Tamara managed to defeat them after a tough fight.