Thursday, June 1, 2017

Rats!

One of the best cartoons ever!
It's a good thing this is a dog blog, because I've got a shaggy-dog story for you! Try to keep up!

I like rats. I had rats as pets when I was a kid. They're intelligent, affectionate and trainable -- much better than nasty little biting hamsters. Hubby does not like rats. He thinks they have beady little eyes and gross hairless tails. (He's wrong of course.) Because of Hubby's aversion to rodents, I've only had one rat in the 30 years we've been together. Her name was Dot and she was absolutely wonderful. When we got orders to Japan, she couldn't go with us. Instead, she became the third grade pet at the elementary school. She was loved by children until the day she died.

At 28" X 28" X 18" this thing is huge
I dislike digging through old shit. Keep your "buried treasures." I've got enough of my own stuff to deal with, I don't want somebody else's. Unfortunately, Hubby is a "collector" for lack of better words. He enjoys yard sales and flea markets. He enjoys American Pickers entirely too much. And in Japan he fully embraced the concept of gomi. Once a month people would stack unwanted but still usable items outside. Neighbors would go through and take what they wanted. It was socially acceptable (or so I was told). Hubby brought home all kinds of crap! He still slows down when he sees stuff piled on the side of the road. To my horror, he brings things home all too often. About six months ago he came home with a large cage. It looked like it was designed for a ferret. It had several levels and three doors. I rolled my eyes, but it has sat on the porch ever since.

So fast forward to Mother's Day weekend. We went to a Barn Hunt trial and Jedi totally bombed. I signed up for four runs, each with two hidden rats. Out of a total of 8 possible rat's Jedi found exactly one. I was frustrated and assumed that Jedi was just overwhelmed by the new venue. Out of the blue, Hubby said "You know, you really should get some rats to practice at home." Then he reminded me about that eyesore on the porch. I jumped on that like Drogo on a mealworm!

So, all this is to say: Meet Hide!

Sorry for the picture quality. This little girl is FAST!
WARNING: Don't get your panties in a bunch. Yes, my rats will (hopefully) be trained to accept the tubes to help Jedi with his barn hunt training. However, they are pets. They are loved and well cared for. Animal Rights Activists can keep their ugly comments to themselves.

Buying pet rats has proven to be more difficult than you would think -- definitely more difficult than it was when I was a child. First of all, very few stores even carry fancy rats. (Feeder rats are a different story.) Those that do -- PetSmart and Petco -- have some strange rodents related policies. Three of the four Petco stores I went to only sold males, the fourth had very large (read old) mangy-looking white girls with pink eyes. Ick. PetSmart stores sell either male or female rodents, but not both. However, they don't advertise which, nor do they always know what the other stores carry. Grrr.

I want female rats. They stay smaller. I think they're more attractive too. Male rats have giant genitalia that they drag behind them and I think rat balls are gross. I also want more than one. Rats are social creatures and I think it would be nice to have a pair. Besides, the cage is huge. So Hubby and I drove around one Saturday. We probably hit 8 pet stores and found one female rat (Hide). A week later we hit another half dozen pet stores on the other side of town. Nada, sans the fugly girls mentioned above.

Hide (bottom) and Seek (top)
We had to stop by the reptile store to get horned worms for Drogo (his favorite). While there I asked if they had any small, female feeder rats that were relatively friendly. I told the reptile guy that it would be a pet. The guy went into the back and brought out ten very cute ones in a wide variety of colors and patterns. I stuck my hand in the tub and they were all friendly. I picked the gray one with a white triangle on her forehead and named her Seek. I felt bad choosing just one, knowing the other nine wouldn't be as lucky as this one. And when I saw the price -- a third of what PetSmart charged -- I was a little miffed that I had wasted all that time driving around town.

Hide was thrilled to have a friend. The girls cuddled and Hide was constantly grooming Seek. Unfortunately, Seek didn't appear well. She started sneezing right away. Her eyes weren't as bright and she didn't have the energy of Hide. I was hoping that with good food, fresh air and as little stress as possible she'd bounce back. I was wrong. Two days later Hubby found her dead in the cage. I guess feeder rats aren't expected to be as healthy as pet quality rats. I feel bad. I hope the last couple days of her life we happy ones.

So for now we're going to keep looking for another female rat while loving on Hide. Thankfully, she still appears to be healthy. Soon we'll make rat tubes and teach the girls to go in willingly. Meanwhile, Jedi is well aware that we a have a rat in the house. When I ask him "Where's the rat?" he runs over, noses the cage and sits. Who knows, we may get our RATO title after all! -- K