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There is an awesome pet store a few miles away from where I live, where I get all of my supplies, and even some of my animals. My current pair of rats came from there. Unlike a lot of pet stores I've been to, I've never felt a powerful urge to rescue the rats that are displayed there. These rats are often bred by one of the employees who runs a small rattary, and the others come from excellent breeders in the local area. They get great housing and are loved by all the employees, are completely social and sometimes are too inquisitive for their own good(I had one who almost leaned too far off my shoulder trying to get a sniff of a passing little girl).
I currently am at rat population max, as I'm living at home while going to college and the parent-imposed rat limit is held firm by an iron will. If I didn't have such a limit currently, there is an absolutely amazing and wonderful rat there who I would have brought home already.
I went in for some fish food a few weeks ago and of course had to see the rats while I was at it. In the male rat cage was an adorable double rex, red-eyed siamese rat. He was very young, but came rushing to the front of the cage as soon as he heard me open the door(the shop allows people over 18 to handle the rats as long as they stay next to the cage). He practically flopped into my arms, and when I scooped him up, I expected him to flail around a bit to orient himself, but instead he just lay there, content and trusting. Eventually he did get up, and began climbing all over me, sniffing and poking his whiskers everywhere.
I noticed that he seemed to be having some trouble keeping his balance, so I kept a hand near him at all times. He responded by consistently patting my hand with his paws while he wandered around on my shoulders. He then noticed my friend and began leaning as far as he could toward her. She quickly reached out to catch him before he tumbled off my arm, and he immediately plunged into her hands, bruxing loudly.
I began to notice some strange behaviors, however. My friend had been standing beside me the whole time he explored me, but he didn't notice her until she spoke. He also liked to put his paws on things while he sniffed them, oftentimes patting them repeatedly with both front paws, while he sniffed and whiskered everything.
Finally I realized, when he almost fell off my friend's shoulder trying to reach an employee who started talking to us, that he was blind.
I once had a rat who went blind at a year of age, and the way she compensated was by feeling things with her paws and listening hard. I also met a rat who had been born without eyes, and his behavior matched this incredible little fellow here in the pet store almost perfectly.
I almost brought him home in spite of my mother's warnings that if I brought another rat home she would take it back. But thankfully my friend convinced me that he didn't need "rescuing" from this pet shop and that he would get a good home in time.
Then I saw how he acted around the other rats in his cage. He was the alpha! The three of them were all so happy to have him back, and he went around snuggling them, grooming them, and flipping one of them over to reassert himself.
When I left, all four of them were in a pile together, napping.
Of all the rat encounters I have had through the years, this has to be the absolutely most incredible of them all.
I've gone back a few times since then, and he and one of his cagemates, who he seems to be bonded to quite closely, are still there, and they've started to recognize me when I pet them. I dearly hope that whoever adopts them gets both of them, as they seem very close.
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