I have a theory about the widespread hatred of rats. Not only are they vectors of plagues and a sign you might be living in an unsanitary hovel, they aren’t in our food chain. In other words, we don’t eat rats, so if a rat eats something, that food is lost to us forever.
So if a rat eats your chicken food, there is no way to get that chicken food back. If they eat the plums off of your five Italian prune trees*, there is no way you’re going to eat those plums. Whereas, if a squirrel eats something, you can eat the squirrel back. The old Joy of Cooking will even tell you how. You can eat pigeons, too. (In high-school, my friends and I considered launching a homeless-person-self-sufficiency program that centered on teaching pigeon eating. For better or worse, we were big talkers.) Only people in Parisian sieges eat rats.
We don’t eat things that eat rats, either. We don’t eat cats or dogs or coyotes or owls or hawks or bobcats or cougars or rat poison. We can eat snakes, so that’s an exception. Go snakes.
*Raise your hand if you think I’m speaking from experience.