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I finally signed up after several years of using this site as a go-to for any strange problems and "Is this normal?" questions. I've been a rat owner for 8years, since my freshman year of highschool, and I've been in love with the little babies ever since.

My first rat was a shoulder rat, and I didn't even know what those were at the time. Her name was Keeva, a cinnamon hooded precious little girl, and she went everywhere with me, no exceptions. I saw her at a PetSmart and a guy was arguing loudly with the handler that he should be able to buy the rat as a feeder, and for some reason, I just knew I had to have her. Something clicked. I walked over to the handler and made a kissy noise at the rat, who little did I know was going to be the tiniest love of my life, and baby Keeva scrambled up my shoulder. I didn't even have a proper cage at the moment, but I didn't care. I announced I would be buying the rat immediately, and she was going home with me to be loved.

The guy looking to purchase her as food for his predator was furious, to say the least. Apparently the place that actually sold feeders was "far away and annoying." and I was "A bratty teenager."

That may have been true, I'll admit. I was only 17 at the time. But I wasn't having it. I threw up the hoodie of my jacket and tied off ties at the neck, the little fur ball burrowing into my hair under the hood.

I paid for her, I took her home, I told my mother I'd come home with a rat and she more or less was horrified... but I didn't care. I gave her the dog food I'd been -sent- to buy and went to research the little creature I'd taken home with me.

I poured hours into her. I finally bought her a cage after a while, but I never really had to. She and I were inseparable. She slept with me, ate with me, went shopping with me, went on rides with me, all the while living in the hood of my jackets or the pockets of my over-sized, fleece lined purses. (Modified for her comfort, of course.) I had her so well trained that she was met with fascination rather than repulsion at restaurants if I gave her permission to come and sit at the table instead of in my hood. She would sit down, or lay down, precisely where I directed her to be, and would not move unless told to. She usually got her own little plate of veggies on the occasion I thought it was safe/acceptable for her to do so. :)

She lived to about two and a half years old, but died of unknown causes. I'm assuming it was kidney failure. She and I were cuddling one night and she squeaked suddenly, blood expelling from her back end. I scooped her up and tried to find anyone, anywhere that could treat her, but to no avail. (I had just moved- not days before- an unmanageable amount of hours away from my vet. I was in the process of finding a new one.) She died curled up against the crook of my neck, her favorite place in the whole wide world, the place she slept almost every night, and as much as I sobbed when I heard her little heart go out, I think she went peacefully. She was bruxing and licking me just moments before she passed as I pet her head. That was the night the tiniest little love of my life left me, but if nothing else, she was right where she had always loved to be...

After grieving for months over her, I finally had the will to adopt two boys who were litter-rejects because they were dwarves. PetSmart (I know, I didn't know how absolutely awful pet stores were at the time. Aside from Keeva, I'd never bought an animal from one.) was considering having them euthanized because they 'weren't growing and they couldn't put them on the floor.' I told them I'd take them, and sign whatever form I needed to so I couldn't pursue them for medical treatment for them. It took a while, but they finally just got sick of the crazy rat lady, and I took them home without a fuss.

I wasn't quite prepared for what I dealt with in those two. I was aware that dwarves were a result of having no growth hormone and were therefore immune to cancerous tumors, but their hormones were akin to that of a teenage girls. They would go from affectionate and gentle to bitey and hissy. I had none of it. A few sessions of me wearing thick-leathered gardener/mechanic gloves and safety goggles, and they finally learned that not only were they not allowed to fight each other, but they had to, and were going to, like me as well. I'll give them that they bruised my hands up like no other, though. Thank god for thick, thick leather. After an all out war with two of the tiniest cuties you've ever seen, they quickly became my best friends. They spent most of their time out of the cage when I was home, nesting in my hair and chasing my toes under the blankets. They were not shoulder rats (they loved me, but they were very stubborn,) but they were happy, no less.

I had them for over three years, and they died peacefully from old age about a week apart. These two were my last two for about a year until.... five days ago! :D

I built a huge cage out of an old china cabinet. Installed water bottle holders, carved out shelving, fixed the doors, added rattie windows, you name it. I knew I would want to get rats again soon, so I went ahead and prepared. And then, lo and behold I found an add on craigslist. Two boys up for adoption... I contacted the owner and she had many she had to rehome. Long story short, I went from trying to adopt two boys to going home with five beautiful girls.

I would just like to say that I have my hands absolutely full with these girls, and I love it. They're not socialized nearly as much as I had been lead to believe, but they're warming up to me beautifully. I've only had one issue so far, and that was getting a nasty chunk taken out of me by one of the girls, but she's absolutely terrified of everything. She's never shown signs of aggression, only fear, and even when she bit me, I think it scared her more than it did me. She ran away squealing and bless her heart, it took her a bit to come back and visit me again. (I'm wondering if she's completely blind. She can never find food if I'm holding it unless I put it to her mouth, and she never looks directly at my face or my hand, she touches me with her whiskers and nose, but her eyes tend to never fix on anything.) I'm still not sure what happened, but... if there's one thing I've learned with rats, its that you never stop learning. They're like tiny little people, and you have to figure them out as you go. :)

And that's story! Sorry for rambling. On to pictures!

Precious Keeva, my first. Rest in peace, pretty baby.



Gary and Kells, my precious little monsters.



Some of the new girls. Two of them are still very shy, and I don't want to go shoving cameras in their faces just yet.



Want to help me decide on names?



 
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