Moscow pet shops are reporting a run on rats, as keen astrologically-minded Russians snap them up ahead of the Chinese New Year, which is the Year of the Rat.
In wake of the crisis desperate shoppers are even resorting to buying mice, hamsters or gerbils in lieu of a real, domestic rat.
It is a surprising fact that Chinese astrology is closely followed in Russia, this is mainly due to the long border it shares with China. Many newspapers deliver daily Chinese horoscopes – and advice on how to care for new pet rats given as presents has been a regular feature in the run up to the New Year.
The Chinese New Year begins on 7th February, and is an important year as it is the first sign on the Chinese zodiac. People born in the year of the rat you are likely to be leaders, pioneers or conquerors. They are charming, passionate, charismatic, practical and hardworking. Rat people are endowed with great leadership skills and are perhaps the most organized and systematic of the twelve signs. Famous people born in the year of the rat are President George Bush, Carmen Electra and Prince Charles of Wales.
But veterinarians have warned of the possible consequences of this new craze:
“Not everyone is going to be delighted to get a real rat as a present, and those that can’t house them will either return them to a shop, or release them in the streets.”