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The Ratcatcher's Reel

Photo by Diane Özdamar

World Rat Day

Apr 4

Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day

Today's Musings, History & Folklore

"Rats are just squirrels with a bad publicist."

~ Rodent humour

Squeak and Eeek! Have you ever had a rat run into your dance hall and try to join (or avoid) the set?! I have! Don't worry, chase those wild rats back into their hiding places with this lively reel and divide yourselves into rats and ratcatchers for those reverse set and links and "ratified" reels! Known for their intelligence and social nature, rats have demonstrated remarkable problem-solving skills and can be trained to perform complex tasks! Rats are empathetic beings, capable of forming deep bonds with their kin and sometimes even with their humans, showing concern for their peers in distress! The latest research even indicates that they have an underserved reputation for spreading the bubonic plague, also known as the Black Death, which devastated Europe in the 14th century. Is it time for a rat rethink? Squeak! 🐀 🐀 🐀

The Ratcatcher's Reel

Rats, despite their historically negative reputation, are remarkably intelligent and fascinating creatures that contribute significantly to scientific research and environmental balance. Their exceptional learning ability and complex social structures make them invaluable in studies that lead to medical breakthroughs, helping to save countless human lives.


Rats have scurried through the pages of literature for centuries, often embodying themes of survival, cunning, and sometimes even companionship. Some of the most famous literary rats include:


  • The Pied Piper of Hamelin: While not a rat themselves, the Pied Piper is intrinsically linked to rats through the legendary tale from the town of Hamelin, Germany. In this story, the Pied Piper is hired to rid the town of its rat infestation using his magical flute, only to lead away the children of the town as well when the townsfolk refuse to pay him. The rats in this story symbolize chaos and the consequences of broken promises.


  • Rat in "The Wind in the Willows" by Kenneth Grahame: Mole's loyal friend, Rat (or Ratty), is actually a water vole, but his character is often remembered as rat-like. Ratty is generous, kind, and wise, showcasing the positive traits that real rats possess, such as sociability and intelligence.


  • Mrs. Frisby in "Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH" by Robert C. O'Brien: Mrs. Frisby, a field mouse, interacts with highly intelligent rats that have escaped from a laboratory where they were experimented on. These rats have developed advanced technologies and societies, challenging the stereotypical image of rats as mere pests.


  • Templeton in "Charlotte's Web" by E.B. White: Templeton, the barn rat, might not have the most noble of characteristics, driven mostly by self-interest, but he plays a crucial role in helping save Wilbur, the pig. His character adds complexity and humor to the story, highlighting a rat's resourcefulness and cunning.


  • Sardines in "The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents" by Terry Pratchett: Part of the Discworld series, this book features talking rats that have gained intelligence by eating from a magical rubbish heap. Sardines is a rat who dances to the music of a kid with a flute, in a clever nod to the Pied Piper legend, but with a twist that champions the rats as heroes of their own story.


For more cute rat pictures click the rat in tartan!

The Ratcatcher's Reel

Click the dance cribs or description below to link to a printable version of the dance!

The Ratcatcher's Reel

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