Furry Friends

I will never forget the day I listened to my father batter a rat to death with a spade. The loud squeaks, the desperate scrambling and my poor father’s sunken face still stick with me. The rat in question had been harassing my aged rabbit, Sniffles, and he had to go. Sniffles passed away in 2006 and it was a turning point in my attitude to cohabitation with other animals. I really, really hate vermin – especially rats.

Excluding the standard university pests, I now live alongside a colony of slugs, an occasional mouse and my neighbour’s arrogant cat. Yes, the cat is vermin and it deserves the same level of persecution as the nocturnal slugs that interrupt my housemate’s visits to the toilet.

This edition’s Freedom of Information request about vermin at the University of York (page 17) has revealed that our campus is as infested as Sniffles’s rabbit hutch. Unfortunately, my father does not have the time to take a spade to every rodent that is guilty of chewing through the IT Department’s fibre optic cables.

Cartoon by Theodora Burden

But maybe I am wrong about vermin. I have always been fascinated by television programmes about devoutly religious Hindu men who share their food with street rats in India. Despite not viewing rodents as my ancestors, anticoagulants, hypercalcemia and rats do not necessarily have to mix. The Hindu gentleman on the Discovery Channel had a point.

After all, we are the alien invaders on campus. Every time we complain about goose attacks, hungry rats, silverfish and ants; it’s not really their fault. The university is a nature reserve and we really should just get over it.

Saying that, insects are undoubtedly an exception. I think bees are the only nice insects and even they have wronged me. I doubt even those Indian men hang out with bumblebees. When I was 9, I was cycling through the Norfolk countryside singing to my heart’s content, only for an opportunistic bee to fly down my throat. I panicked, fell off my bike and nearly got hit by a car. I am still not open to reconciliation.

Even so, we do not have to worry about them for now. With autumn, once cocky bugs are enveloped by the inevitable cold and York’s student body can finally roam the campus at ease.

No longer are we plagued by hormonal mother goose and her devilspawn; the wasps and bees have buzzed off for another year. All we have now are sleeping ducks, the rabbits in Alcuin and the odd bat. Autumn is the least animal-intensive term of the year. Nonetheless, we have to remember that even in the spring, angry mother animals mean that we get cute goslings and bunny rabbits.

This winter we must all try and be more accommodating to the animals with whom we share our campus (apart from insects). They’re an integral part of the York experience and while I would rather not see students sharing their dinner with the various geese and rodents that surround their accommodation, please do make an effort with them.

Finally, in case you’ve got this far and you’re worried about my father’s aforementioned antics, please don’t. I doubt he’ll read this but if he does, he is the best person I know, made better by his uncompromising paternal protection of Sniffles.

One thought on “Furry Friends

  1. This is awful written and you’ve obviously got some privileged yet-wants-to-be-seen-as working class vibe going on with your opening sentence.

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