As the good Urban Legends go, I am not making this up.
With the New York City rat population officially tallied at 70 million, there's a persistent rumor being spread by my Harlem relatives that the rats are surreptitiously crossbreeding with local squirrels in Central Park to produce a new species of tree-climbing, sewer-dwelling superrodents called "sqrats".
I thought it was unlikely until a more zoologically-minded relative of mine reminded me that tigers and lions can crossbreed (producing "ligers" or "tigons") -- and supposedly sterile mules have also been known to give birth to their own offspring. Why not squirrels and rats?
So: can squirrels and rats mate and have viable offsrping?
I don't know about the Sqrat, but my mom was conned when she was kid into going snipe hunting!! LOL!! She was in the woods for hours!! She was sooo ticked when she realized she had to walk home by herself!! BOY!! Was she surprised to later find out that there was actually a bird called a snipe. http://encarta.msn.com/index/conciseindex/4A/04AA1000.htm?z=1&pg=2&br=1
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV
So somebody has to ask, what's a snipe when it's not a bird? Snipe hunting used to be a perfectly reasonable thing to do over here...
Posts: 8725 | From: Ipswich - the UK's 9th Best Place to Sleep! | Registered: Feb 2000
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Why not call them rratels? And why would they be superrodents? If you combined the brains of a squirrel and a rat, you'd still be miles away from a tadpole. I also noticed that www.sqrats.com is already being squatted by register.com.
Ok, class, today’s lecture is on scientific nomenclature and the potential for cross-breeding among species.
No, squirrels & rats can't mate; they are just not closely related enough. Scientific names of plants & animals are an easy way to make a guess if two species might be able to successfully mate, since scientific names are based on how closely things are related. A scientific name is a two parter: Canis familiaris. The first word is the "genus" (plural is "genera") the second is the "species" (plural is --um-- "species"). It is very unusual that two animals that are not in the same genus can mate. Lions are Panthera leo; tigers are Panthera tigris, so it looks like maybe they could mate successfully--and they can, producing "ligers". Similarly, horses are Equus caballus and donkeys, Equus asinus.
Closely-related genera are gathered together in groups called families. Scientific family names all end in "-dae" so cats, for instance, are in the family Felidae. It’s sometimes possible for species in the same family to be able to mate—or for reproduction to occur successfully with artificial insemination. For example. I found one reference of a successful crossbreeding of an African and an Asian elephant, which are in different genera, but the same family, The calf did not survive. Crosses between members of different families aren’t gonna happen in the wild.
All this is a preface to rats and squirrels. Both are in the order Rodentia (orders consist of groups of related families), but that’s as close as it gets. Rats are in the genus Rattus, family Muridae; NY tree squirrels are in the genus Sciurius, family Sciuridae. Squirrels aren’t going to mate with rats any more than they are going to mate with elephants. Heck, even if they could biologically, squirrels are most active during the day & rats most active during the night—when are they going to get together?
If you cross a lionand tiger You will get what’s called a "liger." But I doubt your cat and parrot Can produce for you a carrot.
quote:Originally posted by Askia K. Hale: I thought it was unlikely until a more zoologically-minded relative of mine reminded me that tigers and lions can crossbreed (producing "ligers" or "tigons") -- and supposedly sterile mules have also been known to give birth to their own offspring. Why not squirrels and rats?
Aside from what Kathy B pointed out, it should be noted that these crosses were conducted among animals in captivity, and in normal conditions in the wild, animals usually don't interbreed with different species. And by the way, only in rare cases can a mule produce offspring, and then only in a mating cross between the parent generation and filial generation.
I was always under the impression that if two animals could mate and produce fertile offspring, that they were then technically considered part of the same species. In effect, that this ability is the definition of species distinctions.
------------------ "I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect had intended for us to forego their use." --Galileo
I got a better one, a friend of ours told us that he heard of a dog/cat hybred!! LOL! While he was over here, I called him on it and told him to go into our office get on the net and find it. Needless to say he came up with Nada! Anyone else here of this?
Posts: 1 | From: Indianapolis, IN | Registered: Jul 2006
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You know, this reminds me of a creature talked about a few years ago that I never paid much attention to...the Chupa Cabra, or Goat Sucker. Apparently this thing was killing sheep and goats in Mexico. I'm sure it isn't true, but I never heard any formal ruling on it. Does anyone know whatever happened to this story?
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