A Rat Tale From Guangdong

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Lin Yang on a story from southern China’s Guangdong province:

A Mr. Li in Dongguan city, Guangdong province, caught a 3 kg “rat” eight years ago in the woods and brought it home to keep as a pet, the Guangzhou Daily reported today. The beast is a “specie of rat rarely seen in the south,” Mr. Li told the paper. After years of comfortable living, it’s swollen to 12 kg. Now the glutton is also suffering from China’s skyrocketing food prices. “I used to feed it meat at every meal,” recalls Mr. Li, but now the meat costs so much that he had no other choice but to turn it into a vegan.

So what should you do if you have a giant rodent in your house? Create a public spectacle, of course. Mr. Li told the paper he is now letting cat owners challenge the “king rat” during the Oct. 1 national holiday. There will be two fights a day, each including five three-minute rounds. The animal that wins three out of five will be the champion. Cat owners are required to sign an agreement with Mr. Li, exempting both parties from any responsibility if “the rat is injured or the cat is killed during the fight.”

Mr. Li told the paper that the challenge is an opportunity to “rewrite a history where rats are only eaten by cats.” Mr. Li bought a cat to test his beast’s fighting prowess. When he placed the two in a cage together, “the cat crouched at a corner and trembled all over, while my rat made menacing noises and leapt at it,” he said. The cat raced away as soon as Mr. Li opened the cage. Its whereabouts remains unknown.

Apart from the impressive weight and strength Mr. Li also mentioned some features of the “rat” that are different from the ordinary ones. It’s about 14 inches long and its toes are connected by thick web. Mr. Li now is hoping an expert can identify the rodent’s species. But you don’t need an expert. A quick online image search would solve the mystery. Mr. Li’s rat is a nutria. As to the identity of the rat who would stage animal fights for entertainment, you don’t need to be an expert for that one either.