TATTOO DESIGNS & SYMBOLS - RAT TATTOOS
Tattoo designs - R >> Rats
Rat Tattoo Designs - Those born under this, the first of the Chinese Zodiac signs, can consider themselves lucky in money and power. Chinese mythology attributes the rat with bringing the gift of rice to humankind. Of all the rodents, the rat is the most intelligent, and can make a charming and endearing pet. Queen Victoria and her ladies in waiting had their favourite pet rats on display in gilded cages.
Symbol of resourcefulness and adaptability, the rat adapts to almost any climatic condition, being found on all continents except Antarctica. Without any confining breeding season, this highly fecund creature can produce thousands of offspring in a year. Its survival instincts have proven ferocious as it fights to keep other scavengers out of its territories. To this end, the rat has even exterminated one of its own species - the black rat - thanks to its brother, the brown rat.
As a spirit guide, the rat inspires with its highly organized and enterprising work ethic and its hard work and attention to detail. When needed, the rat can be looked to for its amazing scavenger abilities. Ancient Romans considered the white rat to be auspicious, and in Japan the rat was a messenger of one of the seven gods of good luck. In Africa, the rat's superior sense of smell has been employed to detect metal in landmines, outsmarting the dog.
On the dark side, the rat's reputation as the carrier of disease goes unchallenged. It spread the Bubonic Plague (the Black Death) first to Central Asia and then to Europe in the 1340's, during which so many people died (est. 75 million) that it was believed the end of the world had arrived. It thrived amongst garbage and, later, in sewers where predators were non existent. Not surprisingly, the rat became a symbol of plague and pestilence, of war, atrocities and death. It also became associated with the Occult.
Given the species association with disease, it is somewhat ironic that rats have become an indispensable part of medical and pharmacological research around the world. Rats are used for a wide variety of research purposes—including the study of psychological disorders, addiction, neurological and other disorders, infectious disease, and toxicology. It is estimated that over 20 million rats are used for laboratory testing in the United States alone, each year.
Several famous writers have portrayed the rat as an amiable and friendly character. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham is a favourite children's book in which Ratty the river rat exhibits no negative rat qualities, and is indeed the voice of reason and logic to the books other characters.
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of N.I.H.M. was an extremely popular early 70's children's novel by Robert C. O'Brien. As a film, The Secret of NIHM was incredibly popular and the rat characters are highly intelligent and organized, escaping as they do from a Laboratory and creating their own version of a utopian society. The book was awarded the prestigious Newbery Medal in 1972 for excellence in children's literature.
Beatrice Potter depicted her pet white rat in at least one of her popular stories, perhaps increasing the popularity of rats, white rats especially, as pets for children. For many children, the rat is a cute and cuddly symbol of friendship and affection.
Rat tattoo designs are often popular with tattoo enthusiasts who are attracted to the California hot rod and street car culture of the fifties and sixties. The iconic "Rat Fink" character was designed and created by custom car legend, Ed "Big Daddy" Roth. Roth designs, collectibles and memorabilia are highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts. For those who grew up in the sixties, who can forget the "Fink Mobile"! Go Rats!
Get inspired by some really great images and photos in our Rat Inspiration Gallery
See also: Animal Tattoo Index
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Tattoo designs - R >> Rats
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