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Discussion Starter #1
I was out at Target and Petsmart today with Naydeen and she decided to crawl down the back of my dress which was long sleeve and a bit tight, and she was wriggling around trying to burrow further. So now I had a rat stuck in my dress, but I couldn't leave the spot in the store I was at because I had just asked to see an employee as soon as they got done helping someone else. I was worried that If I left the employee would come to meet me and I wouldn't be there and they would move on to another customer and I would have to wait even longer (I had already been waiting at least 10 minutes). So I ducked into the back part of the store trying to stay near the meeting spot, and I'm trying to wrestle Naydeen back through the head hole of my dress but she keeps moving further down. Since the dress is tight she won't just fall out. So I had to start sticking my hand up my dress and feel around trying to grab her, but she wouldn't come so I was literally pulling my dress up in public making sure no one was around trying to grab my rat out. I'm fumbling around in the aisle yanking my clothes this way and that and muttering aloud. Finally I got her to come out. I wonder what the security camera footage looks like :p

What embarrassing things have your rats made you do?
 

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Never taken a rat into public. Not sure any of mine would hold still for that. Maybe Buddy, but he still get's pretty excited over new things and would probably want to get down.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Naydeen prefers parks over stores, I let her get down in the grass to run around. She wades through it and I let her do her thing until she starts eating it then we have to move on. I don't like her eating it Becuase I'm sure it's loaded with pesticides to keep it looking so nice
 

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I've had so many rats go down my shirt, I'm not even embarrassed about pulling out my shirt from my belt and removing them. I actually have a few appropriate and moderately amusing lines I use when there are young ladies around to put them at ease that I'm not about to go full monte. That said when Fuzzy Rat went up my swim trunks in front of a group of little girls at the beach, it was pretty uncomfortable... Yes and there were several moms watching and not one had the least inclination to distract the children to make rat removal any less awkward.

Then there was the kid who asked his mom why the man was throwing pine cones at the sleeping animal in the tree and the times I camped out in front of construction machines waiting for Max to come back... And the nice lady who asked me if I was alright as I was laying on the ground calling Fuzzy Rat back from under a forty foot roll off dumpster, when in all reality Fuzzy Rat had been entertaining her and her father instead of coming back to me... That was actually my fault as we were training another rat and I told Fuzzy Rat to go play under the dumpster... I'd swear she was trying to make me jealous as part of her rodent revenge. Or the day Max peed on a nice sales girl because it was so cold we didn't put her down outside the store to go potty before we went in...

Or the time Fuzzy Rat attacked an autistic kid's cupcake... which almost got her killed...

Or the day I had to remove the wheel well from my car in the rain to recover Max while the dog walkers watched. Especially embarrassing as I had just made the point my rats walk at heel and don't need a leash...

Those are only a few of the things our rats have done to me in public. You get used to it.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Rats near machinery/cars make me nervous, or really any small sized animal. When my cat was young she climbed inside the engine of our car and my dad didn't know it so he started it up and drove off with her inside. She lasted the whole ride and jumped out as soon as he got to his destination, it really took him by surprise.

Aww that poor salesgirl! I wouldn't know what to say if my rat peed on a stranger, or worse pooped
 

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My first rat was Jasper, a big, sweet pew boy. He went everywhere with me and always rode in the hood of my my hoodies. He never made a fuss and 95% of the time no one knew he was there. Then one time i was in a gas station getting a drink and the cashier sees his tail hanging out of the hood. The man got excited, he was from India and has a great deal of respect towards rats, and asked me to set Jasper on the counter. So about the time the clerk starts to gush over him Jasper decides he needed to poop then and there. Ive not been to that gas station since :/
 

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Discussion Starter #7
My first rat was Jasper, a big, sweet pew boy. He went everywhere with me and always rode in the hood of my my hoodies. He never made a fuss and 95% of the time no one knew he was there. Then one time i was in a gas station getting a drink and the cashier sees his tail hanging out of the hood. The man got excited, he was from India and has a great deal of respect towards rats, and asked me to set Jasper on the counter. So about the time the clerk starts to gush over him Jasper decides he needed to poop then and there. Ive not been to that gas station since :/
Well at least he liked rats and was excited to meet him! Hopefully that curbed his disgust a bit. You just never know with rats, one time I was bragging to a friend that Naydeen is trained to go only in the grass, and we had been out for hours and she hadn't had a proper potty break so she pooped on my lap in the car :/ so much for trained
 

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You know when a true shoulder rat is right on his or her game, they are awesome to work with and for folks to watch. For some people rats are scary animals like lions or tigers and they look at you like you are handling a dangerous beast... And when your rat comes on cue, does shoulder rat and walks at heel jaws drop... And with Fuzzy Rat I recall long lines of kids waiting to get their rat kissies.

Then when you are working with a rat that's out of it's elements or you screwed up or your true shoulder rat decides to shift into make my human look stupid mode... it's incredible just how dumb you can look in public.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Naydeen is so much more calm and outgoing in settings like the park. She's confident enough to venture off on her own, but knows not to stray too far. In crowded public areas she prefers to just watch the world from her pouch. She's always so good with kids though and stays relaxed for them to pet her
 

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When we first rescued our senior boy, my boyfriend was talking about how great he was at litter training and that he already knew not to poop on us. He was recalling this rats brilliant toilet skills to his parents while I was holding poor old Bear who was fear pooping non stop in my arms. It was extremely embarrassing and I just acted like he wasn't defecating everywhere and nobody seemed to notice. I am not so easily embarrassed but I felt bad for Bear haha.
 

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Or the time Fuzzy Rat attacked an autistic kid's cupcake... which almost got her killed...

HAHA!! I pictured Fuzzy Rat attacking the cupcake! Sorry, but that must have been hilarious 😀
 

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Actually it was one of those bazaar moments that only Fuzzy Rat could bring about.

A group of South Asians were having a birthday party for a child at the park and there was an autistic little boy there who wanted to meet Fuzzy Rat there. We were sitting at a nearby picnic table. I usually have the great sense to manage these encounters very closely. Most autistic children can't approach a rat, but some can and they have very fast hands...

Well the little boy put down his frosted cup cake on our table while he was trying to get hands on with Fuzzy Rat... and while I was politely rat blocking the little boy Fuzzy Rat did an end run around me and pounced on the boy's cup cake... in the very same split second the boy snatched Fuzzy Rat's tail and jerked her up off the table into the air. Fuzzy Rat being a rodent of particular determination did not let go of the cupcake.

So in less than a split second I see rat, cupcake still attached, jerked off the table headed for parts unknown.

I dove under the whole mixed up affair and scooped rat and cupcake up over the little boy's head where thankfully the boy let go to the peculiar rat/cupcake configuration. To be very clear, Fuzzy Rat never let go of the cupcake despite being yanked off the table by her tail.

The boy's mom apologized and I offered her the remains of the cupcake back but she graciously declined. And to make a short story shorter Fuzzy Rat got her cupcake.

The whole confrontation most likely took less than a second or at most two, but it's one of those moments that stay frozen in memory.

Fuzzy Rat was easily one of the most remarkable animals I've ever worked with, but when she got it into her head to do something completely reckless, there was no stopping her.

Being a good rat handler means being able to predict what your rat will do. I got distracted by the autistic kid that seemed like the greatest threat in the situation and didn't recognize that the innocent looking cupcake on the table was actually the most dangerous element in the equation (rat bait). I should have realized that with Fuzzy Rat around no cupcake was innocent much less safe.

The scoop and lift technique is how you get your rat back from little kids. They tend to open their fingers when you lift their hands over their heads very rapidly. That was actually a move I'd practiced before when dealing with toddlers. So I knew exactly what to do when things went terribly wrong and didn't have to think about it. But I did screw up the initial risk assessment.

Learning to work with shoulder rats is no easy thing. Some rats are easier to work with than others, but you wind up in lots of dangerous situations that are easy to misread. One minute you are trying to politely manage a simple meet and greet and the next second your rat is degloved or dead. Each time it happens you get better at your craft because you learn to spot something you didn't see coming before. We've met lots of autistic children and most aren't a threat because they won't come near a rat, but then you find one with fast hands that's just as determined to grab your rat as your rat is determined to steal his cupcake. It's a funny story when no one gets hurt.

Autistic kids aren't nearly as common as toddlers, but many toddlers are lethal to rats and you simply don't see it coming until your rat is squished or flying through mid air. One minute they are friendly and playful and the next your rat is squished or airborne.

Fuzzy Rat often entertained handicapped or special children. Most found a very special connection to her and it was part of her community service that made her so popular. Oder Downs Syndrome children can be very gentle for example. But from a rat handler's viewpoint it was never easy. And don't be lulled into a false sense of confidence by the really well behaved toddler or child. For each one of those you find, you will find another that looks and acts exactly the same that will do something dangerous and bazaar without any advanced warning.

Shoulder rat handling isn't always hard, mostly it's fun. But when I say it has a steep learning curve, it's because it doesn't take a very big mistake to get your rat killed. Once you take your rat outside beyond the safety of your home where almost everything is predicable are rat proofed you are mentally accepting risk. Then your job becomes risk management. As you go from one situation to the next more dangerous one you are learning to manage greater and greater risks. You become reckless when your risks become greater than your skills and experience can handle, but by definition the first time you try anything new you are exceeding your prior experience which kind of blurs the distinction between risk management and recklessness by default. If you manage not to get your rat killed as you learn your craft, you eventually get pretty good, if you don't get careless, and your rats actually are pretty safe outdoors with you. The trick is to become competent and get through all of the basic mistakes you are likely to make. That's why I stress the safe site method, at least you are controlling as many variables as possible as you learn to deal with the others that you aren't going to anticipate until after you've seen them for the first time.
 
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