Re: Looking for Rodent Diet [Quite long reply]
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|From:||"J. A. Kiernan" <email@example.com>|
|Date:||Sun, 30 May 1999 00:06:46 -0400 (EDT)|
On Fri, 28 May 1999, Bourassa, Patricia wrote:
> I'm trying to find a company (we were told it was in the UK) that
> supplies rodent diets. Can anyone help?
Rodents can contribute significantly to our diet. Some previously
unpublished (though poorly planned and controlled) older bbservations
follow, with discussion. I'm afraid it's a bit long, but you can
always skip to the end or just delete it all .
INTRODUCTION and MATERIALS
In the UK in the early 1960s, there were 5 of us in an intercalated
BSc year, which was devoted almost completely to a research project.
It was an extremely busy time, and we were all in the lab until at
least 8 or 9 pm, nearly every day from May until April of the next
year. We usually took a meal break about 6 pm and went to the
University Refectory (a cafeteria), but there were a few occasions
when funds were low and the lab contained plenty of our recently
killed albino Wistar rats.
METHODS and RESULTS
Skinned, gutted and roasted in a laboratory oven,
these rats provided a quantity of edible meat.
Our observations made in the course of these culinary studies were:
(a) Roasted lab rat is edible and wholesome.
(b) Like some other wholesome foods it is almost tasteless - the
heart is the only part with a meaty flavour. I can't
remember if we tried the liver and/or kidneys. If we did
they made no lasting impression with me.
(c) Even a large rat does not contain nearly enough muscle to
provide a decent helping for one person, and it goes cold
while you're scraping it off the bones. It was usually
necessary to buy supplementary liquid nutrients afterwards,
at the local pub. This was nevertheless slightly less expensive
than the Refectory, if we observed due moderation.
Most of the nutritional content of a rodent must be in parts that
many humans disdain - the skin and the intestines (including
their contents). Birds of prey eat the lot, without benefit of
cooking, and convert it into feathers, beaks, muscles and guts,
and also eggs. Our experiment was therefore flawed because we
deliberately degraded the carcases by removing parts that
happened to be unfashionable to kids in their late teens or
early twenties, at that particular time, in Britain.
In this less anthropocentric age, students are fully aware of the
bias that speciesism can inject into any investigation of the ways
in which animals are abused by other animals. Further research,
conducted by younger scientists, should settle questions about the
dietary value of rodents. Probably they will recommend that the
smaller organisms (i.e. mice) be consumed whole: guts, hair, bones
and all. This fits in well with our long accepted human attitude to
very small fish such as whitebait (2 to 3 cm long), which are
delicious when fried in large numbers.
It needs only a small extension of the Whitebait Principle to
determine that we can safely eat whole mice (humanely trapped,
of course, and collected the next day), if we become much less
fussy about the appearance, texture and flavour of our food.
It would probably contravene some laboratory safety codes to eat
whole mice without cooking, especially ones used in experiments with
pathogenic bacteria. For a whole rat it would probably be easiest
to make a soup in a blender. Again, cooking seems wise even if it
removes some of the vitamins.
Guinea pigs were a major component of the diet of the indigenous
people of Darkest Peru: easy to keep in a low pen in the hut,
pleasing to play with, easy to catch, and with more fat and muscle
than smaller rodents. The encyclopedia doesn't say if they were
eaten whole or in part, cooked or raw. It is certainly possible
to digest a guinea pig that has been swallowed intact; ask anyone
who keeps a python for a pet.
Hope this helps, though I realize that it doesn't provide you with
the name & address of a supplier. Unfortunately I can't remember
who supplied the rodent diets that we tested more than 35 years ago,
but it surely should not be necessary to import from another country.
When you have found a source and made your own tests, please get in
touch. Perhaps we could jointly submit a paper to some journal of
nutritional science. By 2020 it might become a Citation Classic in
Current Contents: Bourassa & Bear (2000) The value of rodent diets
for research workers: a 38-year anecdotal follow-up study with appended
recipes. J. Exp. Nutr. Sci. Fi. 432(1), 234-567.
The greatest value of the InterNet is the way it can bring together
scientists who have never met one another, and enable collaboration
in research with daily communication.
P. Addington Bear
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