Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Rat Personalities

By Shellyane Bryan
A rat owner from England shares tales of living with her first rat, Queen Dumbo Duncanson-Bryan, and a rat named Mouse.

Dumbo the rat
Dumbo the rat is a little fearful of things in her world and often content to cuddle and play with people.
Mouse the rat
Photos Courtesy of Shellyane Bryan
Mouse the rat is a fearless explorer that can sometimes seem anti-social because she wants to be exploring instead of cuddling.

Dumbo. Is scared. Of boxes. She is also scared of wheels, plastic bags, slippery floors, Leon the Hamster and the kitchen sink. The latter is a justified fear. Recently, as I was minding my own business washing up while Dumbo clambered on my shoulders, she decided to jump with the intention of landing on the windowsill. She missed by a foot and landed in a washing up bowl filled to the brim with soapy water. I shouldn’t have laughed, but it really was hilarious. She looked like a “drowned rat” (ha, ha) wearing an extra coat of fluffy, white foam — and not too impressed by it either.

What I find interesting, though, is the huge differences in personality from one rat to the next. When I kept a lot of hamsters, their personalities didn’t differ too greatly. Some would be more docile than others, but that was it really. Rats, on the other hand, really come into their own as they grow up. Whereas Dumbo is a big, chubby coward, Mouse is a brave little explorer. She is the Indiana Jones of the rat world.

Yesterday, for the first time, I let Mouse run around with Dumbo on the living room floor. They are so cute when they get overexcited, bouncing about and dashing around like the world is their playground. Despite the fact that Dumbo has run miles in the living room, it always seems new to her. The cutest thing she does is when I pick her up and turn her on her back to tickle her belly. As soon as she gets up, she chases after me. She runs around in circles if I run around in circles. If I retreat to the sofa, she hops up there with me, yanking on my clothes with her teeth and clambering all over my laptop. This is something Mouse picked up on very quickly. The best way to get my attention is to scuttle across my keyboard, because, you know, it’s not like I have work to do!

But it’s impossible to ignore them, and at times they are far more interesting than getting an English Literature degree. It’s sad to say really, but Dumbo seems to be everyone’s favorite. She is affectionate and sweet, and her claws aren’t as sharp as Mouse’s. Mouse can’t help it though — she’s just a baby! She is only anti-social because she is so eager to explore the world. I feel bad for little Mousey. I hope it doesn’t give her a complex.

P.S. Thank you all for the lovely comments to those who left them on my previous blogs!

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