Sunday, 24 July 2011

The Urban Forager

On the back road hidden among the urban sprawl lights from the takeaway and the street lamps bathed the tarmac and the parked cars in an unnatural glow and contrasted with the deep shadows beyond their reach. Passing headlights and the drone of engines passed by on the main road at the top of the embankment above me and the occasional footfalls and conversations of people walked by filled the air between the passing vehicles. I leaned against my aging car and enjoyed a quieter moment in an area that becomes intolerably cluttered with noise and the passing of vehicles and people during the day.

A shifting from the shadows and undergrowth of the embankment before me caught my attention, a rat appeared from cover and scampered across to the litter bin some ten feet or so away from me. I remained motionless as the creature gathered itself and sprang from the embankment to the rim of the bin before diving inside and emerging a few moments later with a mouthful of takeaway food. In a swift movement he sprang back into the cover of the shrubs and vanished. A little patience rewarded me with more sightings of the tenacious creature as he returned time and time again to scavenge the scraps from the litter bin.

I have never found fear in watching such creatures, just a willingness to understand their resourcefulness, the lack of wild predators combined with the busy road to keep the domestic cats at bay, together with the ready supply of thrown away food provides them with such rich pickings. it is little wonder they go beyond survival into thriving and flourishing. It seems our transient existence and throw away culture suits such creatures. Watching the movements of the creature I found it to be both powerful and agile for its size. Leaps to and from from the edge of the bin to the floor three feet below were achieved with ease and even grace. Watching the passers by and listening to their conversations about current trivia and sports I was hardly surprised to find I had more empathy and understanding with the rat.

Within the urban night, nature has shown me where there is abundance a creature will emerge to take advantage. If the thought of such creatures is abhorrent, perhaps we should look at the abundance we have given them and why the predators who would naturally control the numbers are prevented from doing so. No doubt someone will soon contact the local authority about the bold forager and insist they send a "man" round to deal with the problem. I doubt the issue will be looked at in any depth, just another short term solution involving poisons will be the likely outcome.


  1. Let's just hope Authorities don't use Poisons and Try to Teach Human Beings a better way ahead and leave No Trash at All ! Appreciate your Reads X x

  2. Like you I empathise with the resourceful rat and wish we could be less wasteful.

  3. Thanks for your comments Rob & Binnie, much appreciated!