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From A Rat's Eye View: An allegory from nature

Harry Rosenberg

Sept 2003; Feb 2004

Owl: From here you can see everything. The stream, the valley, the hillsides, the clearings, road, fields, and fences. Pay attention to the house by the road, mice live there, so do cats, and rats. Chipmunks live everywhere and squirrels love trees.

Owlet: Why do I need to know all that?

Owl: Those animals are your natural food. When you get hungry, a mouse a day keeps the doctor away. Watch until one gets careless and then we can eat.

Little Rat: Why do we live in this little hole?

Big Rat: So the hungry owl can't eat us.

Little Rat: But I'm hungry.

Big Rat: Then we must take a chance. There is plenty of tasty food thrown away back of that big house down by the road.

Little Rat: Can we go get some?

Big Rat: Yes, if we are lucky and the owl is not watching.

Owlet: I see two rats!

Owl: We must wait until they get in the open, then we can swoop in for lunch. If we wait until after dark our dinner will come easily for we can still see while the rats cannot.

Big Rat: Be careful, keep an eye out. See that horned owl up there? Be ready to hide in a hurry.

Little Rat: Where? Oh! He does look fierce. How did he get way up there? I can hardly see him.

Big Rat: He flies through the air like a bird; in fact he is a bird. He can just fly up to his home in that tree with his big wings. He makes not a sound flying, so you have to watch out all the time. Owls eat mice, chipmunks and rats like us. He can even hear us talking. He ate your brother yesterday, so be extra careful.

Little Rat: Why do owls eat rats?

Big Rat: Because they get hungry; it is nature's way. We eat seeds, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and even table scraps if we like.

Little Rat: Who eats owls?

Big Rat: Eagles.

Little Rat: And who eats eagles?

Big Rat: Eagles eat each other!

Little Rat: My, how can that be? They are still around. Who eats the last one?

Big Rat: OK, only a certain type of eagle eats eagles. Microbes too small for us to see eat eagles after they die. When animals eat, they turn the oxygen in the air they breath into carbon dioxide for the trees to eat so they can grow up big and supply us with fruits and nuts to eat.

Little Rat: I didn't know trees get hungry. How do they eat? They don't have mouths.

Big Rat: True. But they have roots and leaves. Roots send water and minerals up to leaves and the leaves eat carbon dioxide from the air and use the sun's energy to convert it into more leaves, trunks, branches, nuts and fruits for us to eat. While doing all that, tree leaves give us oxygen back to breath. All forms of life need all the other forms. The sun keeps us all alive.

Little Rat: Like one big Merry Go Round! What does the sun eat?

Big Rat: I don't know. You will have to ask the eagles that live in that house by the road.

Owlet: I thought you said people live in that house.

Owl: They do, but they are the "eagle people" variety; the kind that destroys each other by war, terror and murder; the kind that spoils the landscape and cannot learn from history.

For more on the make up of life on earth see: Life Cycle Grid -- Diversity in balance.


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