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Second mouse to the trap

Posted by SR on June 09, 2004

In Reply to: Second rat to the trap posted by Ward on June 09, 2004

: : : : I've recently heard the expression 'he's always the second rat to the trap'. It is a not so complimentary description of an individual who seems to be at the right place and at the right time, after others have taken the risk and the arrows in opening a new opportunity. Is this heard elsewhere?

: : : Your suggestion that being the second rat is a negative seems erroneous. Given that rats are much maligned critter, this antropomophication can lose its zeal. I have only heard the phrase as a retort to the old chestnut: "the early bird gets the worm". "Yeah, but, the second rat gets the cheese". Here it stresses the wisedom of caution, rather than victory for the pusillanimous. Discretion is the better half of valour.

: : I've never heard it. (U.S. - Kentucky/West Virginia.) But it is very descriptive. The first rat sets off the trap and gets it in the neck. Then the second rat gets the cheese.

: Exactly! He's well fed -- but still a rat.

: I could be wrong but I believe the original saying involved a mouse, not a rat. I have it somewhere in my files and will post once I locate it. Similar advice:
"Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic."