THE RATS OF CAELERETH

RAT DISTINCTIONS - TERRITORY - DIET - MATING - USAGES

Arguably the most intelligent and versatile creature in Caelereth, Rats are very agile, medium to large sized rodents with short legs and relatively large heads. Rats usually have dull-coloured, coarse fur, long tails, large ears and a pointed snout. This snout houses a set of very sharp and powerful teeth, which allows them to penetrate nearly any natural substance behind which they suspect food to be hidden. They have even been known to bite holes in metals.

The Rat

View picture in full size Image description. The typical Santharian rat. Picture drawn by Faugar.

Rats are usually nocturnal, but as is their nature, they are extremely adaptable, and may be active during the day if conditions allow/require. As a result they thrive in settlements built by Caelereth's main races, especially large human cities, a place where most wildlife prefers not to dwell. In such conditions they have few natural predators which are found in the wild, and an ample supply of food generated by their human hosts. Originally, however, all city dwelling Rats came from, and still dwell in, forests and deserts. Their spread has been attributed to their ability to thrive on seagoing ships. This may well explain the vast variety of species to be found in Caelereth, as cross breeding produces new strains of Rat species.

Rats are extremely prolific, breeding 1 to 16 times a year and producing 6 to 12 young in a litter. Rats will eat almost anything. Certain rat species are strictly herbivores, while others, especially those which live in towns and cities are omnivorous and will eat practically anything... much to the delight of residents who would seek to poison their unwanted guests. Some of the larger species are purely carnivorous, and assume the top-most part of the food chain in some derelict areas.
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Rat Destinctions. The following is a list of all the kinds of Rats known in Caelereth (sorted alphabetically):

CITY RAT, THE ("SEWER RAT", "UNDER RAT")
The City Rat (also called the "Sewer Rat" or "Under Rat" and not to be confused with the vilerat) is one of the larger and more dangerous types of rats native to Caelereth. The city rat is so named because of its native habitat, the sewers of various cities of Caelereth, and because it is often used as a steed for various Rat Brownie tribes who also dwell in city sewers and underworks.
 

The Common Rat

COMMON RAT, THE
Common Rats vary in size and color, but are usually about a fore in length, including the tail. Their coloring ranges from browns and blacks to whites and even the occasional paint. Pure albinos are uncommon. Their beady eyes are almost always black, and they have hairless pink tails and feet. Originally this species probably originated in the Narfost Plain or the desert to the south, where small numbers can be found, but these Rats have spread all over Santharia, Denilou, Aeruillin and Nyblemar and are commonly found in cities, village barns, ships, and other places of human inhabitance where food is to be found. Rats and mice often fall prey to cats, stray dogs, and snakes, as well as meaner Rats of their own kind, although their large front teeth and short, sharp claws can do some serious damage. For the most part, however, they are cowardly creatures, prefering to scavange and steal, and run away from a fight whenever they can. A common Rat's diet might consist of insects, grains, scrap food, waste, grass, flowers, and just about anything that is available and easily scavenged. Common Rats often carry ticks or fleas, and occasionally diseases as well.
 

FLAX RAT, THE
Flax Rats Sometimes refered to as the "Farmer's Friend", are the smallest of the Rat spieces, and dwell in more northerly climbs of Caelereth, usually no further south than Elsreth, among many different types of crop but especially flax. About 5 nails breaths end to end, they are fiercly territorial and aggressive and will bite if disturbed. Usually yellowish or grey in colour they are carnivorous and eat many insects and small animals that would normally destroy crops.
 

The Giant Rat

GIANT RAT, THE
Giant Rats are enormous versions of the common rat, which can mainly be found in Southern Sarvonia but mostly in the surrounding forests of Voldar and the Auturian Woods near Marcogg. They are nocturnal animals, omnivorious and can be quite aggressive if provoked, especially the females. People of Marcogg and the surrounding region even keep Giant Rats for using their milk, which is said to give extra strength.
 

SNOW RAT, THE
Snow Rats are only slightly larger than the Common Rat and similar in many aspects to most rodents. However, they possess several adaptations to their harsh tundra climate that set them apart from all other Rat species. The most noticeable is their coat: it is pure white, long, and very soft. The hairs also grow to cover their wide-spread feet, allowing them to scamper lightly across snow drifts leaving nearly invisible tracks. The silky hairs of the Snow Rat not only provide warmth, but camouflage as well. Their blue eyes might make one think these Rats are blind, but while their eyesight is not exceptional, their sense of hearing is accute.
 

The Vilerat

VILERAT, THE
The Vilerat is an aptly named creature, a putrid specimen with hygiene habits rivaling those of a diseased troll. These green-furred, disgustingly big rats are about two palmspans long and can weigh up to an od. These parasite-ridden pests often carry diseases, and were responsible for example for spreading the 696 plague in Quios.
 

WATER RAT, THE
Water Rats or sometimes Black Rats are almost completely black in color. They are prevelant in midland and southern Santharia, Aeruillin and Nybelmar, in and around slow flowing rivers, marshes and wetlands. They are also to be found in quiet costal waters of the Isles of Quios - in river estuarys and natural bays. Much like the Common Rat in appearance it is distinguishable from a black Common Rat only by their slightly larger size and webbed hind feet, which make them rather less agile than their land dwelling cousins, but far stronger swimmers. The front feet are unwebbed to allow them to manipulate things. They have extremly course waterproof fur and a female Water Rat may produce anything from 1 to 11 young in a litter.
 

WOOD RAT, THE
Also known as Bush Rats or Steppe Rats, because of their fondness for living far from human habitation. The Bush Rats, which are 1 or 2 palmspans in length, are found in wooded and desert areas throughout Caelereth. They build characteristic dome-shaped nests, usually in tree branches, about 1 ped high, by weaving straw and sticks together. The exterior of the nest is studded with needle-sharp thorns by weaving in the branches of thorny or venomous plants for protection against natural enemies. These Rats are herbivours, eating berries, roots and grains. In certain areas esepcially on the Elverground farmers may have to protect their crops from the damage these Rats can so. One method is to take grain to the Rats characteristic nests to prevent them damaging the crop. Wood Rats are slate-gray, blue or tan above and white below and can easily be identified by their hairy tails.
 

The Ximax Rat

XIMAX RAT, THE
Ximax rats are very intelligent beasts, who are not only capable of running away with your food and creating awful chaos in your kitchen, but also can avoid strategically placed mouse-traps and fool any cute furry kitten, except, maybe, their Ximaxian rivals.

After a long time spent in the big human cities, Ximax Rats learned to conceal their true nature, knowing that people's interest in smart rats is for some strange reason bigger that in ordinary rats. Therefore, they are now hardly distinguished from their less gifted relatives, only their fur is generally cleaner.
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Diet. A common Rat's diet might consist of insects, grains, scrap food, waste, grass, flowers, and just about anything that is available and easily scavenged. Contrary to popular belief, the Rat mouth is just as clean, if not cleaner than a human's mouth. This is supposed to be due to an interesting substance in the saliva which kills diseases and other harmful things, allowing the rat to eat a wide range of things without getting sick. Their bodies are simple enough to live off of parchment for weeks, yet their stomachs are complex enough to break down complicated food mixtures which intelligent races consume.

Smaller outdoor Rats are most commonly known for the consumption of berries, grains, short plants, crops, and edible seeds. Larger outdoor Rats are known for eating animals and insects smaller than themselves such as small mice, snakes, lizards, and other rodents. Indoor Rats are commonly known for the consumption of table scraps and other bizarre items. These include, but are not limited to; dark meats, poultry, eggs, grains, bread, fruits, vegetables, desserts, cheeses, clothing, small shiny objects, thimbles, sewing needles, hay, woodwork, parchment, candle wax, lard, margarine, molasses, syrup, honey, milk, lead, jewelry, etc.
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Mating. In general, Rats reach sexual maturity in anywhere from 5-7 weeks of age. There can be as many as 6-12 young in any given litter, and they may breed as many as 16 times a year. For this reason, Rat overpopulation is a serious problem in many major cities and towns where many people congregate. Rat poison can be found in almost any kitchen across the continent, as Rats are not only pests, but carriers of a large variety of diseases. Not only are diseases sexually transmitted, but they can be passed on to the young as well. Diseases, just like the Rat population, increase at an alarming rate. It is not advisable to keep male and female pet Rats together, as you will find that they will reproduce all too quickly, and you will end up having to drown the excess Rats.

It is also not advisable to keep the following specimens of rats: City Rats, Vilerats, Flax Rats, and Wood Rats.
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Usages. The silky hairs of the Snow Rat are sought after by the middle class and semi-wealthy for winter coats. The white hairs naturally repel snow and water naturally, and they do not fade in colour or stain. However, due to the size of the Snow Rat, and the amount of Rats required to make the coat, it requires a significant amount of money to purchase. The soft silky feeling of the fur is probably one of the number one attractions to this kind of coat.

The people of Marcogg keep Giant Rat milk, as it is believed to enhance strength. Although it is not certain whether the milk of the Giant Rat has strength enhancing or restorative properties, it still fetches a satiable price in the market place for one of those in the Rat farm industry.

Almost all Rats are hunted for their meat, which is much more filling and satisfying than most other rodent meats. Giant Rat meat is probably the most valuable, with Common Rat meat being the least sought. Perhaps the second lowest is Brownie Rat meat, which tastes horrible to the elven and human pallet, but is said to be enjoyed by tribal orcs.

Ximax Rats are often valued as pets, although because they are the most clever of Rats, tend to escape often and/or chew through precious belongings.

Upon death, the Vilerat melts into a substance called Vilique, which is an extremely dangerous and potent yellow acid. It can melt through nearly any substance, but if left exposed to the air for more than an hour, it will dissipate. Vilique is most commonly used by the Kasumarii for the sole purpose of use as a powerful reagent for particularly nasty spells. Because it cannot melt through diamond, it is stored in diamond flasks and has been tipped on diamond/glass weapons in the past.
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