Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Rat Bits And Bobs

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 in her cage
Photo Courtesy Shellyane Bryan
Could Dumbo the rat be looking for her next rat toy or accessory?

I find myself these days looking at items of rubbish dotted around the household and trying to decide how I can fashion these into something exciting or cozy for my pet rats. It used to be simple things like shoeboxes, food boxes and jingly cat toys. Now it’s pretty much anything I clap eyes on — candy tubs, old pipes, tea towels. I even considered a shoe on one occasion. The reason being is that rats, being the way they are, like to chew anything and everything. It’s not their fault, it’s just what rats do, and if it makes them happy, far be it for me to stop them.

The problem is, when I have to keep buying new toys and houses for my pet rats, it gets more than a little bit tedious and expensive. My rats’ most recent item of luxury, the wigwam, has lasted longer than its predecessor, but it is slowly succumbing to the wrath of the rats — all their chewing of the walls and bouncing on top of it. Their first wigwam actually collapsed like a tent without its poles, and then both Dumbo and Mouse moped until I bought them another one.

It was after this that I decided I was no longer going to buy my rats anything. So long as it isn’t toxic, I was going to use whatever I could find to keep them happy and entertained in the cage. This, however, is easier said than done. The only thing I have managed to create is a tatty old hammock; on the plus side, Dumbo loves it. It’s her favorite place to sleep, and Mouse ventures there too when she wants a warm body to snuggle with.

Something I have been looking for in my house is some kind of tube I can hang up that is big enough for my rats to potter through. My friend’s rats seem rather fond of these kinds of things, and it’s something I have never bought for my own rats. If anyone has any bright ideas for non-toxic rat items to play with, sleep in or just chew to pieces that I might find lying around the house doing nothing, I would be more than happy to hear them!

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