Rats


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Thomas Cattus

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I noticed during James Cameron's movie Titanic, that during the sinking many rats were running along the corridors trying to escape the water. I wonder if the real titanic was as infested with rats as depicted in the movie? Its hard to imagine the real luxury liner Titanic with the likes of the millionaires such as the Astors, the Wideners, and Cardeza's cruising along with rats! It would amaze me that Thomas Andrews the builder, would be going along to work out fine detail and improve customer conveniences, when his ship was infested with rats. It would appear to me he would be trying to erradicate the rats and not worry about how many screws to hold up a coat rack! Seems bizarre that a luxury liner of the Titanic's standard, would be infested with rats by the time of her maiden voyage.

Also I've been interested in the titanic since my high school days. I enjoy listening to the survivors accounts of the sinking. One survivor sticks out to me and I wish that I could have met her. It was Ruth Becker (Blanchard). She seemed like a very kind and sweet lady. Her accounts of the tragedy seemed so vivid.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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The Titanic was probably not overrun with the critters, but in that day and age, I would be rather surprised to find that a few didn't get aboard. Rats typically work their way into pallets of food or any other conveinient hiding place and get hauled aboard that way or by simply climbing up the mooring lines. These days, food stores are a lot more carefully inspected and mooring lines have large metal sheilds on them to act asa barrier against unwanted "Passangers". Back then, such barriers weren't always in use.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

George Behe

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Dec 11, 1999
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Michael Standart wrote:

>The Titanic was probably not overrun with the >critters, but in that day
>and age, I would be rather surprised to find that >a few didn't get
>aboard.

Hi, Michael!

Your fears are justified. :)

A number of rats were seen 'fleeing' the forward boiler rooms the day before the collision, and Walter Lord described how a rat disrupted a party that was taking place in steerage on the evening of April 14th.

All my best,

George
 
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Jul 9, 2000
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Hi George, I wonder how the steerage passangers dealt with the rat? (Caught another and held rat races maybe? The next best thing to an election! ;-) )

Seriously, it's not so much of a problem these days...thank God. Medical officers are pretty vigilant about that sort of thing. On every ship I served on, a representative from the Medical Dept. would be on the peir inspecting stores...especially food stores...to make sure we didn't have "stowaways" of the four or six legged variety Still, the little buggers do slip on from time to time. When I was on the Ranger, a mouse was seen in the dry stores and the Medical dept had to catch it befor we were allowed to pull into Pearl Harbor HI. Took them several days to do it too.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
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William Conrad

Guest
I have no experience of shipping myself, but from what I've read, it wasn't that uncommon for rodents to stowaway on ships. Saying that, I expect that the incident portrayed in the film was exaggerated for the sake of melodrama. The connection with the ancient saying about 'rats deserting a sinking ship' is obvious...

Bottom line, there may well of been a few rats lurking around in Titanic's bowls, but I doubt there were too many. Considering that the Titanic was so new and all...
 
Jul 9, 2000
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William, being new doesn't neccessarily mean much. The ship was tied to a peir for a little over a year after launch just being fitted out, and I've never seen photos of rat gaurds on the mooring lines. Rats go where they can and stay wherever there is a ready source of food.(Discarded leavings from shipfitters lunches for example. The little buggers breed fast too, so if you can't keep them off, controlling them is a real nightmare.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
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Elaine Barnes

Guest
Hi All,
I read in Senan Malony's book "The Irish Aboard Titanic" that one of the stokers deserted the ship after he saw a pet cat departing the ship with her kittens.So, there went one of the "ratters" to help with the problem!
Elaine
 
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William Conrad

Guest
Hello Michael,

You say you've served on ships before? Well, in that case, I guess you must know your business...

Is this the reason some ships had a ship's cat? As a furry rodent exterminator...
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Hi William, I suppose it's possible, though all of my experience was in U.S. Navy warships. None that I served on had any mascots while I was stationed aboard.

The ships I served on were the USS Ranger, USS Mahlon S. Tisdale, USS Germantown, USS Comstock(I was on the commissioning crew for this one.) and the USS George Washington.(The carrier, not the missile sub.)

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
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Bree Sage

Guest
Hi all,

i would just like to know if there were any rats aboard titanic & if people actually followed them to try & escape.
Any information would be helpful if any is avaliable,

thankyou
Bree
 
Jul 9, 2000
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I don't know if anyone followed the rats anywhere, but like any ship of the time, rats were always a problem. Back in the Bad Old Days befor somebody realzed that putting rat gaurds on mooring lines was a good idea, the little buggers would get aboard by way of the mooring lines and head for the nearest source of food they could find.
 

George Behe

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Hi, Bree!

Kate Gilnagh mentioned a rat that scurried across the floor and disrupted a gathering of steerage passengers on the night of the sinking. Also, Jack Podesta told of a number of rats that came running aft through one of the boiler rooms; later on, after the sinking, Podesta couldn't resist wondering if the rats might have 'known' what was going to happen in the fore part of the ship was were running aft in an attempt to escape their fate.

All my best,

George
 
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Bree Sage

Guest
Thank you george for that information it will surley come in handy when disscussing the titanic.

Bree
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Charles Pellegrino estimated the rat population on a ship the size of the Titanic to be 6,000, but I guess the vessel was too new for the beasties to have procreated to their full potential. Pellegrino also gives figures of up to 350,000 cockroaches and 2 billion dust mites. None of these stowaways were officially recorded as survivors, but millions of the mites at least must have made it to the boats in clothing and blankets.
 
A

Alex McLean

Guest
I do remember reading somewhere that a woman survived by following rats running along her corridor, but this was when I was 6 years old and no doubt my memory has changes since then. Ahh well. Pellegrino is a rather interesting author, eh, Bob? (6,000 rats!!! Wouldn't that be fun watching them all.... -_- )
 

Bob Godfrey

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Even more fun counting the mites, Alex! At least one is known to have survived - you must have read all those 1912 Press stories about the famous 'Titanic mite' :) Pellegrino does have some useful speculations about matters biological. As for the rest, well, as you say - interesting! Very useful also for light relief, especially his invented dialogues. My favourite is a line given to young Kathy Gilnagh, who, when told that the ship is likely to break in half, responds with "Don't you just hate when that happens?" One marvels at Mr Pellegrino's insight into authentic Edwardian speech patterns.
 
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Brigitta Gesaputri

Guest
I'm reading the book "A Night to Remember" and Katy Gilnagh said "at one point a rat scurried across the room". I agree with what George said
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