The Rat is the first Sign of the Chinese Zodiac, and it is a Yang Sign commonly associated with the Water Element. Recent Rat years have been 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984 and 1996. The typical Rat personality traits include charm, intelligence, passion, elegance, opportunism, sentimentality, practicality, and honesty. Some of the less attractive aspects of this Sign include greed, excessive calculation, and an overdeveloped business sense verging upon workaholism. The Rat is very smooth and even-tempered, but can turn into a grouch if things don't go their way, and even explode from time to time if provoked for too long. They are very successful in the business world, but whether this arises from their positive or their negative properties is anyone's guess.
Rats are a symbol of good luck and wealth. Clever, intelligent and quick-witted. This Sign is ambitious and strong-willed, and is motivated by its own interests, which often include money and power. Natural charm and persuasion. They are energetic and versatile and can usually find their way around obstacles, and adapt to various environments easily. Its natural charm and sharp, funny demeanor make it an appealing friend for almost anyone. The Rat likes to know who is on its side and will treat its most loyal friends with an extra measure of protection and generosity. The Rats are strongly family oriented. Although they are often hoarders, Rats are very generous to their family and friends. The Rats have a great capabilty of accruing and holding on to items of value.
I was born in the Year of the Rat (1972), so perhaps I'm predisposed to liking rats, although until I met Stella, I'd never seen one up close and personal before. She was a Giant Gambian Pouched Rat, though, and wasn't conditioned to be 'up close and personal' with anything but dinner, unlike domesticated rats such as Rat A and Rat B.
By and large, domesticated rats get short shrift as far as being on par with other pets. They're misunderstood (yeah! yeah!) and oftentimes mistaken for the vermin seen scurrying away from dumpsters or across the path in Stanley Park. When I used to bike around there, gigantic rat encounters were frequent, and unsettling (like, off-the-bike-seat unsettling). Stella's sheer size was initially off-putting, but then again, there were those teeth -- the same ones that would gnaw through her thick plastic carrying cage. But she was charming in her own exotic way, and she will be greatly missed for her bird-like chirping. In fact, I should upload one of her videos to YouTube.com, an old favourite. (She was too busy hoarding food to chirp in this one, so I put it to music.)
At any rate, many thanks to Socar, the ultimate Friend of Rats (and Year of the Rats) everywhere, for the rat charm now perched aloft in our office, the Official Overseer of Financial Matters and The Selection of Pennsylvania Powerball Lottery Numbers.
Stella, the Giant Gambian Pouched Rat
RIP (? - 2005)
Music: Da Da Da - Trio