I will not pretend to be an expert on rodents or insects but clearly we all have strong feelings about which rodent and which bug we prefer.

Are squirrels cute? Are rats disgusting? Is it the size and shape of their tails or the cultural context which influences our perceptions?

Perhaps it is a bit of both. But we are all so culturally conditioned that we literally "see" these creatures as appealing or gross.

This applies to all of our perceptions.  Cultural indoctrination is powerful.  It allows human beings to annihilate other human beings with a clear conscience.  It leads people to blow themselves up in the name of religion and to take out the lives of completely innocent human beings whom they have decreed non-human.

Will I be tempted to pet a rat if I see one scurrying across the sidewalks of New York City?  Hardly.  Guess cultural de-conditioning isn't all that easy.

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