Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Observing Other Pet Rats
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.
My cousin Liz also has a pair of rats that are around the same age as Dumbo.
Photos Courtesy of Shellyane Bryan
Rats that socialize with more than one other rat sometimes aren't as friendly.
I visited my sister-in-law, Liz, over the weekend. She also has a pair of rats that are around the same age as my rat Dumbo. Her friends, Jess and Steve, also have rats — five total! They have recently bought two new dumbo rat babies (Squirtle and Munchkin), one of which looks like a miniature version of Dumbo. The other looks just like Mouse, only with red eyes. I thought this would provide an excellent opportunity to observe the behaviors and personalities of other peoples’ rats, so I grabbed my camera and had a play.
Something I discovered that isn’t unique to Dumbo is the amount of licking she does. Liz’s dumbo rat Remy is very similar to Dumbo. Remy is dopier and more docile than her other rat, Stealth. Stealth is an unusual and gorgeous Siamese (I think!) with beige fur flecked with brown around the nose. She also has pink eyes and very coarse fur, compared to the dumbo rats, which have quite downy fur. Something that was different was the rats’ willingness to bite. None of my rats have ever bitten with intent to harm, but Remy and Stealth especially take the opportunity to nip if your hand gets a little too close to the cage. In their defense, I don’t think this is a defensive or territorial reaction. I think they simply think food is coming their way and mistake a fleshy finger for something tasty.
Stealth makes an interesting snuffling noise, which is apparently something she has always done. Rats are normally quiet creatures when they’re not squeaking during play fights, so it’s unusual that a rat would be so noisy. Unlike the dumbos, Stealth is calm and would much rather curl up under a cushion and sleep. Remy is happy to haplessly clamber. Jess and Steve’s rat, Pikachu, also looks like a siamese and, similarly, is happy warm in the cage, snoozing away. Their two dumbos are typical, excitable babies, exploring every niche and crevice they find. They were also far more willing to venture outside the cage. Squirtle secretly stored a prawn cracker in a little box outside and kept returning to it!
Whenever I get to play with baby rats, I feel like buying yet another one! But what stops me is that sometimes rats that socialize with more than one other rat aren’t quite as friendly as those that have most of their socialization with humans. When I only had Dumbo, she was always eager to come out and play. Not that she takes much coaxing now, but at times, she would rather cuddle up with her adoptive baby, Mouse, and sleep. Having said that, it must be fun to watch the social interaction between large groups of rats of varying ages. It’s great to see them fight, wrestle and play, and see the little bits I’ve learned about rat behavior for real.
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Observing Other Pet Rats