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Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Farewell, Dumbo The Rat

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.

Tribute to Dumbo the rat
Photos Courtesy Shellyane Bryan

Dumbo the rat was a sweet-natured pet that will be sorely missed.

I’m sorry to tell you all that Dumbo the rat has passed on. She deteriorated over the past fortnight. Although she could get about, she couldn’t stand up properly, she couldn’t lift her head to drink and she wasn’t eating unless I fed her soft food. As much as it hurt to do it, I decided it was time to have her put to sleep. I stayed with her as she died. It was one of the most painful things I have ever experienced.

But I don’t want this to be too sad an entry. Dumbo was the sweetest-natured, most loving pet I have ever owned. When she was a baby, she was such a scaredy-rat. She wouldn’t come out of the cage; whenever she did, she hid inside my cardigan and went to sleep (or she chewed a hole in it, on frequent occasions). When she started to gain confidence, my university friends and I taught her some tricks, the first one being how to jump from sofa to sofa. Dumbo could jump more than a meter by the time she was an adult. It was amazing. Along with her cagemate, Fidget, she was loved by everybody. I think sometimes people came round to see the rats and not us!

It was surprising how much both of my pet rats loved to lick. They would happily spend half an hour just licking a hand or any bit of skin on show. I will never forget the day Dumbo jumped into a sink full of soapy water. I had her sitting on my shoulder while I was doing the washing up and as she had recently mastered the art of jumping, she attempted to launch herself onto the windowsill — and missed. She initially landed on the sideboard and then slid into the sink with a plop. The poor thing was a sorry sight after that, wearing a hat of foam and soaking wet.

After we lost Fidget, Dumbo became even more affectionate. She always hurled herself at the door of the cage the moment anyone walked into the room, and out she came to potter about on the sofa, wait for a treat or two and then breakfast. By the time I got my rat Mouse to keep her company, she was getting on. Mouse spent her baby-time clambering about on top of Dumbo’s head and shoving her around and trying to coax her into playing. Dumbo appreciated the warmth and the company. They soon became very good friends, even though Mouse was a bit of a bully when she was fully grown. Poor Dumbo never fought back.

Everyone is going to sorely miss her. I can honestly say I’ve never had a pet like her in my life, and I don’t think I will ever have one quite like her again.

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