Snakes and rats are two animals that are often not considered have stellar reputations. Snakes are conceptualized as evil from genesis to Robert E Howard’s Conan novels. Even with current modes of media, snakes are more likely to be viewed as an evil menace than a benevolent friend or ally. Some stats even place snakes as the animal that is responsible for the most human deaths each year.
Rats, if anything, fair even worse. People can be called a ‘dirty rat’ or you can ‘rat’ someone out. Rat carried the plague and most hold them responsible for the death of millions during the Middle Ages. Rats are also considered dirty and having rats in your home is a sign of poor standing.
Snake Eating a Rat
Despite all this, snakes are often considered holy and in some areas rats are as well. Both have their place within the Chinese Zodiac for instance. In central and south America snakes are considered spiritual animals by some cultures and even the animal that aids humans on their vision quests. Rats appear in countless cartoons usually as benevolent tricksters with good senses of humor.
Strange to note that in most cases humans tend to either loathe or love these animals and if that does not work they humanize them through fiction and jokes. It is also important to observe that, these human feelings notwithstanding, snakes and rats are themselves enemies
Snakes will certainly eat rats if given a chance, but the rats return the favor whenever possible, if not with snakes that are vulnerable in some ways, then certainly their eggs.
If we return to the human interpretation of archetypes, what can we learn about ourselves from our interpretation of these animals? Snakes are considered ruthless, lurking in the shadows, and uncaring—Brutal beasts that survive on instincts slowly swallowing and consuming animals, often while they remain alive.
Rats are clever, yet devious. They are thought of as sneaky and gluttonous, devouring anything least unobserved. As said above, they are considered filthy and germ ridden—A plague for those that have to deal with them.
Snake beats Rat
So if a snake eats a rat, in our eyes were have determined that cold ruthlessness wins out over cleverness. Humans could have called snakes clever and rats ruthless, but that is not how our collective unconsciousness tends to interprets them. Instead, whether intentional or not, we have elevated the snakes traits over the rats, for in the end who wins in the battle between rodent and serpent? The snake.
Whether we, as humans, value ruthlessness over cleverness is another issue, but when it comes to applying our thoughts and archetypes on the natural world, it becomes interesting where we place our values and which ones, when left to the natural order of things, come out on top.