Once upon a time we had some beautiful pet rats – Mischief, Lucky and Snuggles. My second son, ‘J’ had previously had some pet mice, and once they all eventually died we decided to “upgrade” to rats. I guess rats aren’t necessarily everybody’s choice of the ideal pet, but while I worked at the RPHH Animal Breeding Unit many years earlier I had become quite fond of the ratties I cared for there, so I decided ‘J’ could have some pet rats (knowing full well that I’d end up being the one ultimately responsible for their care and feeding etc). I kept a rat diary for a short while, part of which is what follows…
The RAT Diary
3 female “ratlets” bought from J’s school friend approximately 4 weeks old, $4.00 each.
Mother rat – Snowflake – white, pink-eyed lab rat, type unknown, ex Sydney Uni.
Father rat – Smokey – dark brown & white Copenhagen rat.
Copenhagen – nomenclature COP/CrCrlBR origin Curtis in 1921 at Columbia University Institute for Cancer Research. To National Cancer Institute Animal Production Program (Cr). To CRL from the National Cancer Institute in 1998. coat color White with a brown hood.
The adventurous, thrill seeking rat and always the first to say, “Hello”. White with dark brown hood and large rectangular brown patch at end of stripe. One small spot on right shoulder, one small and one large spot on left shoulder, dark speckles on anterior half of tail.
Mischief – 19/7/03
The runt, initially rejected by her mother and then hand reared. At approximately 1½ to 2 weeks old she survived being accidentally dropped by the breeder’s little brother. The rat had a nose bleed immediately afterward – probably lucky to be alive. White with dark brown hood and medium round brown patch at end of stripe. One very large black spot on left shoulder connected to stripe, one large and one small spot on right shoulder, dark speckles on anterior half of tail. Small brown tummy spot.
The quiet one: when still with the litter (of 7 – these 3 girls plus 4 boys) always found at the bottom of the rat pile. Very difficult to coax out to play. White with dark brown hood and medium round brown patch at end of stripe and second smaller brown patch near base of tail. No spots on right shoulder, small faded spot very low on left shoulder. Solid brown on anterior half of tail.
Nominated birthday – 20th June 2003 (exact date unknown).
Rats temporarily put into the “outside cage” (a wooden cage built by my husband for ‘J’ so that ‘J’ could catch, observe then release animals such as skinks, blue-tongues, “wild” rats, bearded dragons – whatever wandered into catching range) which has been thoroughly cleaned and brought inside to the rumpus room and decorated with towel on floor of cage, hammock, rat houses, litter box, shredded paper “digging” box, log, rock, climbing rope, brick, water bottles, food. The bigger cage which I am building, “Ratropolis” was started on 14/7/03 and is still under construction.
Temporary Rat House
J’s 13th birthday today. The rats shared the cake too!
Snuggles inspecting, eating the cake then gleefully proclaiming, “Mine! all mine!” …but not for long!
“Oh well, lemon icing is good – yum!” Snuggles eating only the icing just after Mischief stole the cake.
“Cake? Where?! …have I missed it?” – Lucky
Wodent Wheel (Senior) arrived today – Australia Post squashed it! The running track is now permanently creased, even after heating in hot water and then setting flat under three bricks. Have contacted the supplier to arrange for a replacement.
Snuggles asks, “Hmm, what is this thing?” Mischief replies, “It says here its a W-o-d-e-n-t W-h-e-e-l.” Lucky looks on from the back corner, too busy eating to be interested in the New Thing.
A new red running track for the wodent wheel will arrive from U.S. direct to us in about a week or so. Eldest son ‘A’ referred to “Ratropolis” as the “Hotel de Vermin”. He has a wicked sense of humour! We all liked it better (Ratropolis sounded too seethingly busy and overcrowded) so the change is official.
Mischief, the adventurous one, is the first to run properly in the Wodent Wheel. Hotel de Vermin is almost finished – just need to do towel mats and Velcro the bottom of everything.
Hotel de Vermin is now completed and the rats moved in tonight. Much power sniffing involved! They finally settled on the very top shelf, instead of their beautiful hammock which is no longer the highest point they can reach.
First official photos of Hotel de Vermin taken this afternoon, in J’s room. I constructed it to match his bedroom decor, as well as be practical and a lot of fun for the rats to live in.
“Hotel de Vermin”
Hotel de Vermin – to the right of a matching bookcase, in J’s bedroom.
I also made a “sewer” for the ratties to play in using pvc pipe fittings to create the tunnels.
The tree branch leads to a trap door (shown locked open in the photos) between the two levels which can be closed to isolate either level for cleaning while the rats are housed happily in the other half.
Rats love rockmelon, possibly even more than avocado! Plus they’re now happier in their new home and quite settled. They love their sewer and spend lots of time playing and stashing food in it, and they’re using their hammock and cloth tube loft again.
30/9/03 to 9/10/03
We went to Tasmania and the rats stayed home alone with 8 water bottles and more food than they’ve ever seen in their little lives. They were all healthy and happy when we got back.
That was the end of the actual diary, but the rats lived happily for another couple of years…
Such a happy smiling face! 😀
R.I.P. Mischief, Lucky & Snuggles
Lucky 20/6/03 – 6/9/05
Mischief 20/6/03 – 24/10/05
Snuggles 20/6/03 – 2/5/06
If like me, you love rats, there’s an excellent website you simply must take a look at. It’s called The Dapper Rat and it’s full of wonderful photographs, lots of useful information plus ideas for ratty toys you can make or buy, such as the hammocks we bought for Mischief, Lucky and Snuggles and other products such as the Wodent Wheel, greeting cards and more. Each year a calendar is produced featuring the most adorable rat portraits I’ve ever seen! Just click on the image below to see the latest calendar from The Dapper Rat…