Stowaway: The Disreputable Exploits of the Rat (Hardcover)

Stowaway: The Disreputable Exploits of the Rat By Joe Shute Cover Image

Stowaway: The Disreputable Exploits of the Rat (Hardcover)


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A cultural and social history of the rat, examining how one creature achieved total world domination and has inspired such love and loathing.

Rats are creatures which inspire fear and fascination in equal measure. Their lives are more closely entwined with humans than any other animal, but they remain the most misunderstood of all species.

Yet, arguably no animal has sacrificed more in the pursuit of human health but also been so resolutely blamed for spreading plague and pestilence. No animal has been so determinedly targeted by humans, and still managed to survive and thrive in our midst. No animal is so often derided as being vicious and cunning, but possesses such a rich and complex inner life.

In Stowaway, Joe Shute, explores our complex and often contradictory relationship with the rat. He travels the world from sub-Saharan Africa to the Rocky Mountains and visits some of the most rodent-infested cities on earth to unpick the myths we tell ourselves about rats and investigate the unexplored secrets of their own extraordinary lives.

He examines the way in which rats have shaped human history and meets cutting-edge researchers harnessing the power of rat intelligence to achieve incredible results. He explores the hidden world they inhabit beneath our feet as well as their role in natural ecosystems. And through his own pet rats, he discovers the close emotional bonds they form with humans when given the chance.

Ultimately, this is a book which questions what the lives of rats reveal to us about our own, and whether there might be a better way to live alongside our ancient enemies in the modern age?

Joe Shute is an author and journalist with a passion for the natural world. He writes for The Daily Telegraph and is the newspaper's long-standing 'Weather Watch' columnist. He is currently a post-graduate researcher funded by the Leverhulme Unit for the Design of Cities of the Future at Manchester Metropolitan University. His other books include Forecast: A Diary of the Lost Seasons and A Shadow Above: The Fall and Rise of the Raven. He lives in Sheffield with his wife (and rats).


Product Details ISBN: 9781399402507
ISBN-10: 1399402501
Publisher: Bloomsbury Wildlife
Publication Date: June 18th, 2024
Pages: 272
Language: English

“An intelligent and enlightening book … Here is a new take on rats, acknowledging the shudder, the revulsion, but enlightening us, asking us to think again. Rats, like it or not, are our neighbours. We need to learn about them, how they live and how to live with them. Read this book and you will never look at a rat the same way again. They are complex like us, intelligent like us. Read this book and you'll shudder no more when you see a rat. That's what I'm telling myself anyway.” —Michael Morpurgo

“Rats are far from the dirty vermin that we all love to deride; indeed, they are acutely intelligent and thoroughly fascinating. Joe Shute eloquently puts us right about the world's most common rodent and throws in some great facts and theories too.” —David Lindo

Stowaway is not another natural history in the vein of the otter or the barn owl … [Shute's] real aim is to show us that, ultimately, the history of rats is a history of ourselves.” —Adam Weymouth, The Sunday Times

“This wonderful, charming book … forcefully demonstrates how little we know about our rodent neighbours.” —Rose George, Spectator

“Fascinating” —John Simpson