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Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Dumbo And Her Food, And Rats As Pets

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.

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Rats Dumbo and Mouse share a tent
Photo Courtesy Shellyane Bryan
Once people get to know pet rats, they usually realize they're really great pets!

I love it whenever people come to visit and are excited to see my rats again. I’m exactly the same whenever I go to visit my friends who have rats. Sometimes I’m more interested in the rats than them — ha, ha!

When my brother was taking care of my rats Dumbo and Mouse, his girlfriend got really, really attached to Dumbo. Yesterday when she came down from Sheffield, one of the first things she did was say hello to Dumbo. Dumbo tends to get really excited and wriggly whenever there are different people around, whereas Mouse becomes quite cautious — not unfriendly, but a little wary. They change personalities completely!

But I do find it very entertaining when new people are in the house. Often the first thing they say when they see the cage and two balls of fluff is, “Er, what are they?!”

Most people seem to be used to the sight of hamsters, small, fluffy, oblivious hamsters, but people aren’t used to the sight of eager, friendly, surprisingly adorable rats. I distinctly remember my landlord’s reaction from my university accommodation, a sort of bewildered expression that told us he wasn’t sure what to make of them. It’s depressing really, that so many people aren’t aware of what great pets rats make and won’t even give them a chance.

I was joking with my brother yesterday that Dumbo will just have to live forever for the amount of love she gets from everyone. Even people who don’t like rats will begrudgingly admit how lovely she is. I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do when she’s gone, because I doubt I will have another pet anything like her. It’s like people, really.

Saying that, I have been a bit worried about her this week. Whereas she’s been acting the way she normally acts, she hasn’t been as interested in her food, which is very unusual for Dumbo who is pretty much obsessed with food. Every time anyone goes near the cage, she expects to be fed, poking her nose through the bars with a pathetic sort of expression, as if she hasn’t eaten in days.

I was joking when I said she needed to lose weight! I wonder if she heard me and took offense.

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