Cannibal Rat Ghost Ship Adrift

o-RAT-570What happens to a rat-infested abandoned ship? The rats eat each other. The last rat standing eats itself. Or so they say.

LYUBOV_ORLOVA__1897491aI’m sure you have read about the Lyubov Orlova, which over a year ago was abandoned in Newfoundland because of a dispute over debts. On its tow to a salvage yard in the Dominican Republic, the ship broke free and became adrift. At first it was thought to be heading towards the British Isles however, it is now widely believed to have sunk. The most recent reports suggest that rats cannot live more than five days without water.

This story had me thinking about rats in general and rats along Gloucester’s waterfront, which in turn led to thinking about one of the many reasons why I love cats.

B_Image_4344The Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus), also known as the brown rat, sewer rat, common rat, and myriad other terms of non-endearment, is native to northern China. The species found its way to Eastern Europe by the early eighteenth century. By the year 1800, they occurred in every European country. First sightings of  R. norvegicus in the New World were reported in the 1770′s as ship stowaways.


During the Middle Ages cats were reviled and killed en masse. In the few regions where cats were not killed there were far less fatalities from the pandemic Black Death, which killed roughly half the population of Europe. Had this fear of cats not existed, populations of the Black Rat (Rattus rattus) would have been minimized, lessening the spread of plague infected fleas, carried by rats.

Rats are one of the world’s most successful mammals, second only to humans. They live everywhere except Antarctica.

Rattus_norvegicusRattus norvegicus

All images courtesy google image search.

About Kim Smith

Currently creating documentary films about the Monarch Butterfly, Black Swallowtail Butterfly, and Gloucester's Feast of St. Joseph. Landscape designer for the Gloucester Harbor Walk Gardens. Designer, lecturer, author, illustrator, photographer. Visit my blog for more information about my landscape and interior design firm- Good Morning Gloucester daily contributor. Author/illustrator "Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! Notes from a Gloucester Garden"
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14 Responses to Cannibal Rat Ghost Ship Adrift

  1. Kate says:

    I know in nature that there’s a place for everything, but rats are one of the few things that truly give me the willies. I never knew how aggressive they were until a few years ago I saw one catch a chipmunk and take off with it into the woods. This past fall I saw one catch a grackle on two different occasions . It totally creeped me out!

    • Kim Smith says:

      That must have been fascinating to see these captures Kate. When my cat Cosmos was an outdoor cat, he weekly brought home “gifts” of young rats–they are pervasive for sure!

  2. Gezzzz ~ what happened to the butterflies!! BRB ~ got to check the lids on the trash cans ~

  3. E.J. says:

    But aside from being destructive, disease carrying vermin, they are really cute.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Love your editing – thanks for the history lesson.

  5. Dave Moore says:

    Nice work here Kim on parody thought it might have been (Creepy Creature Feature or Chill-on-Rama horror night (Fridays) late night no school the next day Learners rootbeet and Wise potato chips:-) Put a few coyotes on-board natural selection…or a few snakes why balance gets out of whack…EJ you are right what they leave behind in some spieces like the (Deer Mouse -Cotton Rat (Hantaviruses-Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS). Paul Morrison and RD would know more his background! :-)

  6. schooner39 says:

    Kim, this is another great one, a welcome contrast from all the beauty you have been posting. It’s nice to know you don’t have a one track mind. Is this the beginning of a new series?

    • Kim Smith says:

      Thanks Al–what is not to find intriguing about a story featuring the words rat, cannibal, and ghost ship, all rolled into one!

      New series? I will have to think about that…

  7. Linda Colman says:

    The giant rat pic has me in stitches!!!! Hilarious!!! Thanks for my morning laugh.

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