Until last Monday, my grade 12 biology class was incomplete. Like lemon meringue pie without the fluffy cream layer. Or a Star Wars movie without a cool, undeveloped and quickly killed-off bad guy. After a rat dissection, my biology class is now finally complete.
Cutting up a once-living animal in the name of scalpels and microscopes is kinda like eating a kiwi. As in, you have to forget what that furry outer layer looks like in order to enjoy it. I expected the rat to be a stiff, chemically-preserved board. Instead, it was damp and mooshy. I’m not sure which would be worse.
I assumed the ickiest part of a dissection would be the dissection. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Step one of official dissection procedure is- get this- tying the rat up. Maybe this helps prevent escape attempts and violent zombie-rat uprisings, but either way, once my rat was stretched across the board, each paw tied down to a post, he looked kinda like an Aztec sacrifice.
Or a tiny, furry Christ.
Maybe it was the chemical used to preserve the rat. Maybe it was the fact that dead things tend to stink. Either way, the smell of exposed rat organs is right at the top of the hierarchy of repulsive smells.
After five minutes of poking around, I got used to doing what felt like an invasion of the rat’s body space. It took another 30 seconds to realize that the dry lumpy thingy poking out of its mouth wasn’t a crispy rat tumor: it was it’s tongue.
By the time I reached the rat’s circulatory system, I finally stopped feeling like I was being disrespectful by removing a dead organism’s body parts. Which was right about when I noticed that the group beside me had decapitated their rat.
Beheading an animal that has the potential to be vaguely cute (once it’s been Disney-fied and is sitting in a dimly-lit room) already earned the group some serious psychopath points. But apparently they felt as if the rat hadn’t been mutilated enough. I watched and cringed in horror as they chopped off their rat’s testes.
I had just witnessed the launch of three potential serial killer careers in the making.
When I looked away, refusing to add to the rat’s indignity, I suddenly noticed that I had inadvertently smooshed a pin through one of my own rat’s ears. Had I been alone, I might have wept, then whispered, “I’m so sorry…”
And then maybe found out what a cross section of his tail would look like.