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Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Rat Versus Spider

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
Dumbo the rat has to get comfortable with a cage accessory before she'll use it.

It took some time, but my rats have finally managed to completely obliterate wigwam Number 2. I was serious when I said they wouldn’t be getting another one. From now on they can go back to having cardboard boxes to sleep in (though no matter how often I use them, Dumbo is always afraid of them for the first couple of days). At least when my rats chew those to pieces and strew the remnants around the cage, I won’t feel guilty about having spent money.

Anyway, for the past couple of months we have been getting a lot of spiders in the house and I mean big spiders (by English standards, at least). Seeing as my mum and I aren’t exactly massive fans of the nasty little creatures, we always have to rely on the man of the household to throw them outside, as it’s bad luck to kill them.

I was wondering, though, would rats eat spiders should they encounter one? I would never put either of my two rats in that position — though I have no doubt that, if Dumbo could run screaming, she would do just that. While I was looking this up, I discovered a couple of interesting ratty facts.

First of all, if a rat hasn’t tried a particular food before, apparently it will taste a small amount and then wait for a couple of hours to see if it becomes unwell. Now, I don’t know if this is true for other rats, but for mine it is certainly not. I only have to come within a meter of the cage with something tasty, and my rats launch themselves at the door trying to get it. They even squeeze their little arms through the bars, trying to grab with their tiny claws. It doesn’t matter what the food is — cereal (mine are especially fond of blueberry shreddies), fruit, vegetables, a bit of biscuit; they will eat absolutely anything.

Secondly, and in relation to the above, after a while pet rats stop testing their food altogether and trust their owner completely. I found this rather sweet. I get a warm sort of feeling at the thought of Dumbo and Mouse putting their trust in me, though I know they don’t truly have any concept of what trust is. It just goes to show how intelligent they are.

Oh and in case you were wondering, rats have been known to eat insects and spiders. Perhaps not pet rats, but certainly wild rats, though I wouldn’t put it past Mouse . . .

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