An Ode To My Rats

For the CU Online Blogathon:

It has occurred to me that I have been more than a little vague about my life on here. What I like, where I live, what I do, what I find interesting.

I think I will start with something that I love and find completely fascinating: My rats.

Okay, okay, I know that many people find rats gross and weird, with strange ropey tales and beady little eyes. But you have to understand – my rats are not from the ghetto of New York, they’re from a breeder’s bedroom in Colorado Springs and they are completely disease free. They are also a little bit like dogs – they know who you are, they enjoy playing around with you, and they know when they’ve done something bad. Usually.

My rats names are Gilda And Zelda. They are both black fancy rats with white bellies, and they’re sisters. Gilda, the fat rat, has a big white splotch on her stomach. Zelda, the skinny one, has a skinny little sliver of white on hers. And they both have ridiculously silly personalities.

I let them roam around on the couch with me sometimes, where I give them treats like peanuts and dried fruit. Zelda eats hers right away but Gilda likes to stash her food inside the couch. The minute Gilda has stashed and returns for more, Zelda dives into the couch, steals Gilda’s food, and returns innocently for another treat. She’s the skinny one. Go figure.

In order to find out if you are a person or food, Gilda will put her teeth on your finger to taste you. Not to bite, or even nibble, it’s more just to test if you are hard or squishy. Gilda, no surprise here, never tastes her food either. She eats it in one big munch and then asks for more. Zelda is different though – she likes to taste her food, to savor it. So when she meets new people, she will lick you and lick you until she’s satisfied you’re not food, and then run up your shoulder and groom your eyebrows.

The funniest things they do, though, occur when I let them run around on the kitchen table. Some examples below.

Zelda in water glass

Gilda with string

Rat in my flowers

Yes, in the bottom picture, my rats are climbing atop each other while eating the flowers my boyfriend bought for my birthday. I don’t know why, but they thought it was terribly exciting.

They need lots of attention, surprisingly – they’re very social creatures, so they tend to do badly if they’re alone. That’s why I got them in a pair – I didn’t want one of them to go crazy with loneliness.

My rats have been a surprising comfort in my life. When my apartment was empty, it was strangely quiet even with the bustle of people living above and around me. With the rats around, there is always someone who needs my attention and love. I am responsible for their livelihood and in return, they fill my life at home with fun and playful liveliness.

I love my rats. I just hope they feel the same way….

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