Cannibal rats

An enormously entertaining headline, from the Plymouth (England) Herald on January 23rd:

Ghost ship full of cannibal rats could be about to crash into Devon coast

(Plymouth is in Devon.)

The story sounds too delicious to be true, and apparently it’s not. Still, the image of a ghost ship full of cannibal rats is haunting.

The story begins:

There are fears a ghost ship full of diseased cannibal rats could be about to crash into the coast of Devon or Cornwall.

The abandoned Lyubov Orlova has been missing since it cut adrift while being towed from Canada nearly a year ago.

The 40-year-old liner has been driven across the Atlantic by high winds and is thought close to the UK shore.

Based on emergency beacons activated last year aboard the ship, it is feared the 40-year-old Yugoslavian liner registered to Russia could crash into the shore of Devon, Cornwall, Ireland or Scotland.

(Note that the story is tailored for Devon — the journalism of local colo(u)r — though Cornwall, Ireland, and Scotland would also have an interest in the matter.)

The piece in  the online Smithsonian Magazine (by Rose Eveleth on the 23rd) denies the diseased rats part of the story, under the headline

No, an Abandoned Ship Full of Diseased Rats Is Not Floating Towards Britain

Meanwhile, my friend Steven Levine posts playfully on Facebook:

I think I’m going to start an Indy band just so I can rename it on a regular basis. For this weekend’s gigs we’re The Cannibal Rats.

Shades of the Giant Rat of Sumatra (Sherlock Holmes, then later references, notable the Firesign Theatre, featuring Hemlock Stones).

6 Responses to “Cannibal rats”

  1. sissy Says:

    The first time I came across this story the headline was “Cannibal Rat-Infested Ghost Ship Lyubov Orlova ‘Heading for Britain'” ( ), which made me wonder for a second, this being before my first morning’s coffee, what exactly a cannibal ghost ship was. Does it eat other ships? Is it a cruise line run by and for cannibals?

  2. Victor Says:

    Well, there’s always ROUS.

  3. arnold zwicky Says:

    The story has been collecting somewhat snarky comments on Facebook. My current favorite, from Michael Palmer:

    Perhaps it’s time to invoke Der fliegende Rattenfänger,

  4. arnold zwicky Says:

    Michael Palmer also suggests that the ship could be refittted for a Cannibal Cruise Lines. (See Carnival Cruise Lines.)

Leave a Reply