Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Memories Of 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.

Dumbo the rat
Photo Courtesy Shellyane Bryan
Dumbo the rat changed from being tentative about leaving the safety of the cage to not wanting to go back in the cage.

I distinctly recall the moment I first saw Fidget and Dumbo when my friend and I decided we wanted to get pet rats. At the time it had been a toss-up between getting a pair of degus or a pair of rats. It wasn’t until we clapped eyes on our baby rats that we knew for certain. It was Fidget that we saw for the very first time, sitting on a log with her feet pressed against the glass case. We knew we had to have her, but we knew we needed to get two. As soon as I caught sight of a tiny, black Berkshire dumbo curled up in the corner — the only one of her kind among the many fancy pet rats — I knew she was perfect too.

It makes me happy when I see the way other people’s baby pet rats behave. It reminds me of the way my pet rats were when they were younger.

My rat Dumbo was always a little scaredy-rat, too frightened to come out of the cage, often falling asleep in my cardigan if given half the chance. Now, as you well know, I can barely get her back in the cage, and I can’t remember the last time I actually saw her sleeping. Her life revolves around food, cuddles and treats these days.

My friend’s new pet rats are a lot like how Dumbo was — tentative about leaving the safety of the cage and eager to return after leaving.

My brother’s rats act similarly to my rat Fidget, who was always a bit of an explorer. First to do everything, she was always flinging herself at the door for some attention, even when the tumor she had was making her lethargic and listless. It never seemed to really bother her.

I think that’s one of the things I love about rats. They’re stoic little creatures that let nothing get them down. Even when Dumbo’s ear was in two, she was still going about her day the way she always does. Even as babies, nothing really bothered them (except for the sound of the vacuum cleaner, something Leon the Hamster isn’t too fond of either!). They’re pretty fearless for their size and stature, even from a few weeks old. Every single baby rat I have ever been in contact with has been eager and excited to play, even those that haven’t had much handling.

I think pet rats are so much more intelligent than a lot of people give them credit for.

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