We have discovered something about rats (pet rats); they look after each other really beautifully.
Now if you’ve had a little to do with male rats you will know they can be complete jerks to each other, vicious with females and dangerous to their own offspring. Rats are extremely hierarchical and bullying is innate. But that’s not the whole story.
Years ago we had very old rats (3 years old) and they started to die off until we were left with a single rat. We were concerned that loneliness; rats are incredibly sociable, might hasten his death and was in the least emotional cruelty. So we bought some young rats; not fully grown probably adolescents.
It was so beautiful, our lonely old rat seemed to find a new lease in life as he nurtured the younger ones; teaching them stuff, disciplining them but also having the most adorable play fights where he let the young ones seemingly win; pinning him down until he grew tired and would get up shaking them off easily.
Then the second beautiful thing; all too soon the old rat’s health began to deteriorate again. By that time the youngsters were fully grown but they did not include him in their battles for leadership. As he tired they brought him food, they lovingly groomed him & in his final days they held a vigil never leaving him without at least one companion.
A couple of years later the youngsters were old themselves, this time we moved in new teens as soon as they began to slow down. We wanted them to reap all the benefits. It worked, it worked time and time again. In winter young rats would cover the frail elderly in summer bring them pieces of ice or wet themselves & move close. It was amazing!
We even saw mourning and protecting/grooming of the recently deceased. Never leave the body too long at some point the instinct to rid the mischief (collective noun for rats) of dangerous carrion kicks in; its natural and safe but it is not a pretty sight. Unlike the sight of 3 rats grooming a deceased cage mate while calling for human intervention.
Yes I did say calling, rats love people. They love to ride on shoulders, they love to explore, to cuddle and to be rubbed. And they actively seek this kind of interaction. They are incredible pets. And they get along beautifully with other pets; except Guinea Pigs. You have to watch Guinea Pigs they can be mean. Rats can also scare birds accidentally and they are dangerous to mice. They also appear to have a mutual lack of interest in fish & axolotls; some mutual early curiosity I’ll grant you, but I’ve never seen a deep bond evolve. And I wouldn’t advise you to mix them with ferrets or snakes.
I had a point, where did I put it?
Oh, that’s right!
I have new rats. We bought them from a wonderful lady called Lisa; what a wonderful name doesn’t it give you confidence, at Nutbush Rattery. They are two young brothers and their slightly older cage mate. We met their parents; the brothers’ mum was Raven & their dad Snoopy and the other boy’s dad was Ratigas (I may have this wrong) and his mum was Azure. Lisa seemed to really love her rats, who all seemed to love her too, and has recommended we keep in touch for regular support and join the rat club.
When F. (support worker) comes tommorrow I’m going to get her to show me how to request friends on Facebook again so I can friend Nutbush Rattery and the other ones she suggested.
I’ve kept you in suspense long enough.
The one at the front is all white with slightly long, curly hair, we are naming him Nimbus because he is a fluffy cloud from an azure sky. One of the brothers is mainly black we are calling him Morgan; masculine derivation of a Celtic Goddess connected to ravens. The other is black hooded, he is called Ronin; ask Gavin but it somehow fitted better than Robin or Woodstock. [P.S. I did ask Gavin and he says Ronin means samurai without a master but he’s really sleepy so that’s all I found out]
So how did Phantom (Hooded) and North Star (Agouti) react?
As expected, of course. North Star sniffed them all over, even though he had to hold Nimbus’ tail gently to slow him down enough to do it. And Phantom was very protective.
The rest of the family’s reactions were all overwhelmingly positive. Even the mean old lady next door (My Mum) came and gushed about how cute they were. The kids love them.
Charlie of course had to be lifted up so he could look at them, he approves. And Smokie took a keen interest, he loves rats.
The girls; Cherise, Echo & Pixie, weren’t here when they arrived and Cherise, at least, hasn’t noticed yet, but they all love rats so we aren’t expecting any problems. The rabbits were vaguely interested. But there were two big surprises.
Orion was completely uninterested, he has never shown much interest in the rats; unlike all the other cats. He was curious to see what we had brought home but as soon as he saw them he wandered off. Weird!
The Budgie Boys were over the moon, Tiki in particular serenaded them and they both called to them whenever they moved.
So all went well until I suddenly heard “Dad what are you doing, you can’t cook a rat!” Gavin was running to the kitchen holding one of the new rats. Gavin is not a soft, pushover pet lover, he is a practical man. Apparently while cooking dinner he had to check the rats were alright. Ronin was lying on his back. Gavin grabbed him to check for injuries but the saucepan was boiling over and he was racing back to turn it down. I took Ronin who as you can see below was physically and emotionally unharmed.
He brought my dinner on a tray before I had a chance to return Ronin to his cage so Tash held on to him for me. I have a strict rule about washing hands after handling the rats but Gavin didn’t even seem to think I needed to wash my hands before eating. I couldn’t move under the tray so I made sure I did not let any part of my hand come into contact with my food. Don’t judge me. Love me! Or better yet love and welcome Nimbus, Morgan & Ronin.