Wednesday, January 24, 2018

A rat by any other name

 A new animal species was recently discovered in Trinidad and Tobago. This previously unknown branch of Rattus rattus, more commonly known as the house rat, has been identified by Camille Robinson-Regis, an attorney and chief zoologist of the People’s National Movement (PNM). Ms Robinson-Regis herself is classified as homo equus capillus, more commonly known as human who wears horse hair.

Speaking in Parliament two weeks ago, Ms Robinson-Regis noticed rats were coming out of their holes, but did not say “Eek!” Instead, she classified the rats as standard specimens, etymologically descended from liars, hypocrites and platypuses. However, it turned out the animals were not R rattus (better known as house rats), but a new species now classified as Rattus integritas.

 R integritas make up a very small and largely unsuccessful sub-species in T&T. They do not mate with R rattus, not even for Government-issued credit cards, and often act according to principle, which R rattus (also known as house rats) almost never does. Indeed, according to The Handbook of British Mammals (Corbet and Southern, 1977), “Because R rattus is an agile climber, it often lives in high places”: and the Pensions Bill is intended to ensure such rats continue their high life after they leave the Lower or Upper Houses.

In correcting her mis-classification of R integritas, Ms Robinson-Regis apologised for her terminology, which she described as “inelegant”, but did not withdraw her claim that R integritas was behaviourally indistinguishable from R rattus (known in common parlance as house rats) in respect to hypocrisy, lying and wining dong low. Robinson-Regis explained she didn’t usually make such errors in language “but it was an emotive subject”. This is why she had not made similar mistakes when discussing murders, corruption or child abuse since these issues are far less upsetting than her not being able to buy wigs after retirement.

Nonetheless, her thesis supervisor, Dr Keith Rowley (Homo Rottweiler), noted in his review he did not approve of her confusing R rattus (aka the house rat) with R integritas, (aka damn fools). He said he was pleased she did “what was required to be done, which is to unreservedly apologise for the effect of that comment”. So all the hypocritical and lying rats should feel better now that the PNM has apologised for upsetting them by calling them hypocritical, lying rats.

On this basis, Dr Rowley has decided to retain Robinson-Regis as his party’s chief zoologist, since R integritas don’t vote PNM anyway. Of course, most members of this species also don’t vote United National Congress (UNC), and the Government MPs (homo disputatio vacuas) also enthusiastically applauded Ms Robinson-Regis when she described R integritas as R rattus (otherwise called house rats).

As Crobet and Southern note, however: “Rattus rattus is a pest and is dangerous to humans in several ways. First, these animals are severely destructive to crops, farms and fruit trees. Not only do they feed on these but they tend to destroy what they are unable to consume. By urinating and defecating on remains of their meals, they ruin grain, cereals and other food sources.”

By contrast, R integritas are not primarily interested in eat ah food, which has made them the natural enemy of Rattus rattus (aptly known as house rats). Dr Rowley has promised that if elected Prime Minister (Primus inter primus), he will take measures to prevent breeding of R integritas, such as meeting with Muslimeen exterminators, banning pregnant unmarried teachers, and stewing curry peas. 

As for R rattus, both PNM and UNC plan to deal with these pests by choosing them as election candidates.