Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Rat Family Changes

By Shellyane Bryan
A rat owner from England shares tales of living with her rats named Mouse, Slinky and Diddy.

Click image to enlarge
Rats Slinky and Diddy
Photo Courtesy Shellyane Bryan

Slinky the rat (front) and Diddy the rat just joined Shellyane's rat family.

As I’m sure you all know by now, my rat Dumbo passed on. I’m still incredibly saddened by this, and I still get a little teary-eyed when I think about her or when I talk about her; but things are improving.

Better yet, I now have two new ratty additions to the family. May I introduce to you dumbo rats Slinky and Dumbo Deux — who was originally nicknamed Dee-Dee, which has since become Diddy.

Slinky is around 10 weeks old, a tiny Siamese rat with red eyes. Diddy is a 3-month-old, black-hooded rat who has already got a bit of a belly on her. They were the only remaining rats in the shop. The lady looking after them informed me that not many people had shown interest in them because they were very timid, so I decided it was my duty to give these two rats a home.

Admittedly, she was right — at least in Diddy’s case. She wouldn’t even let me get her out of the tank in the shop and gave me rather a nasty scratch in her haste to get freedom. Slinky wasn’t quite so much trouble and is generally the more adventurous of the two. The moment they had settled in with Mouse the rat (which went swimmingly!), Slinky was eager to explore the outside. Diddy was very much more tentative, but has since decided she likes to explore, too, and likes to clamber up to the open cage door.

Both of the rats are still quite nervous of being picked up. This is probably because of the times they were grabbed when they were tiny. I was concerned they were always going to be afraid of being handled, so I did a bit of research online and came across the Rat Fan Club website, which had information that put my mind at ease.

I think I have somewhat been hoping for these rats to be as docile and sweet as Dumbo, but I think Dumbo really was a very unique character. I have also had a conversation with my mum recently about Dumbo actually being blind. She showed a few of the signs (was frequently running into things, falling off things, staring intently) and blindness only recently occurred to me — this might explain why she was so affectionate, too. She was always very, very attached to me.

Anyway, moving back to the baby rats, they are becoming friendlier now. They love a little scratch behind the ears and will happily curl up next to me if they’re getting a fuss. Both of them fell asleep on the back of the sofa earlier, cuddled up together, and I got a few loving licks from Slinky. Things are definitely improving.

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