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As a rat lover, I felt compelled to thank you for your coverage of Barbara Orlans’ quest to get rats recognized as mammals by the USDA (“A Rat’s Life,” 3/5). As I read the story, however, I cringed while imagining others’ reactions to this news. Unfortunately, many people have had negative encounters with wild rats in this city and undoubtedly interpret Ms. Orlans’ work incorrectly. In rats’ defense: Domesticated rats are bright little creatures with fantastic learning potential and truly make the perfect pets. I even trained one to walk on a leash!

But as we all know, wild rats are capable of wreaking havoc when left to fend for themselves. This winter, a friend discovered that rats got under the hood of his car and chewed on wires so effectively as to cost him several hundred dollars in repairs.

There is no doubt that something needs to be done to control the wild rats in this city—no one argues that. But remember: It is our fault they are here in the first place. Ridding the city’s streets and alleys of garbage and refuse as the rats are eradicated would probably be a good idea in order to prevent reinfestation. I realize that’s easier said than done, but so is killing off an entire rat population.

Adams Morgan

via the Internet