Wednesday, 20 May 2009

My Rat Baby

Photo credit:missy
Stripe has been with us for four weeks now and we all love him to bits.

I wanted to upload a photo but he won't stay still long enough, and when he's sleeping he's curled up into a small ball of fur in the corner of his cage which is cute to the naked eye but doesn't make for a good photo through the cage bars.

So, here's a photo of someone else's rat who looks a lot like Stripe.

Pet rats, or fancy rats as they're often called, make brilliant pets. They don't bite, they're as intelligent as dogs (Stripe already comes when you call his name), they can be litter trained and they are very low maintenance.

Ella does her teeth in the morning with him sitting on her shoulder, chattering his teeth and squeaking contentedly

I first had a rat, Rizzo, in my early twenties. He was a baby substitute. My hormones were going wild and I was aware that my hash dealing, thrash metaller boyfriend was unsuitable father material. Rizzo was something small and cute to lavish affection on whilst waiting for my situation to become more motherhood-friendly.

Fast forward a decade or so and Stripe is probably fulfilling the same function - baby substitute (J is not too sure he ever wants his own child). Stripe also has another role - sibling substitute for Ella. She even refers to him as 'my rat brother'. Bless.

Working from home, I let Stripe have free range of the sitting room. He's great fun to watch - inquisitive and intrepid he gets into, on, under and behind everything. He's currently sliding down the neck of my guitar. Rather tunefully I might add.

Stripe didn't come out to play much last night as he was relegated to the naughty corner. J and I had discovered rat nibbles in the sofa. The NEW sofa J spent hundreds of pounds on. It nearly caused a domestic.

Apparently, there are solutions. I can put cuttlefish bones, bird blocks and mineral blocks in his cage to chew on. I can spray Johnson's anti-peck on the sofa (marketed for birds but apparently works on rats) because it tastes horrible. I can also cover the sofa with thick throws when Stripe's out so he chews on those and not the sofa.

I will try all of these things, but I know that if a rat wants to do something there's no stopping him. Man vs rat is an age-old battle. Usually man only wins by using rat poison. Obviously not an option for us.

I am a big rat fan. Despite the chewing. Stripe is affectionate and fun. He likes strokes and cuddles. I can leave him in his palatial Freddy Savic if I need to go away for a weekend and know that he's perfectly content.

Stripe is a great pet. He's even muted the ticking of my biological clock. I'm sure J will agree a nibbled sofa is a small price to pay, considering he's been let off the hook. For the moment anyway.


Mary T said...

I know what you mean about pets as substitutes for babies. We got two cats after we were married and now that we have two children they spend all day lounging around on their beds covering them in cat hair. I guess you don't have that problem with rats.

Nicola said...

Ooh we had rats as pets as kids...they were wonderful! Much better than Marlin the gerbil, who would just steal kitkat fingers and half chew them under the living room cabinet or scoot up the curtains, having to be shaken into a pillow case to get him down. We were told the rats were both male - but this was not the case. By day both rats were docile and friendly to a fault. By night, the albino rat would stalk the black rat, for some nocturnal hows-your-father and she would hang upside down from the top of the cage shrieking her annoyance. He would then work off his frustration by running approx. 100 miles on his wheel, which would creak for hours on end. Bless.

Maternal Tales said...

Do you know what? I think I may just have to steal your idea for a pet. My eldest daughter is obsessed with animals, but unfortuantely the one that we do have, a cat, hates being picked up and cuddled and is a constant source of frustration to her. Instead she has to make do with the snails in the garden. But her favourite film is Ratatouille and she even dreams about rats sometimes. Seriously. So thankyou, thankyou! You may have solved all my problems. Yay x

Part Mummy Part Me said...

Maternal tales - they are wonderful pets. Stripe even plays 'Hide and Seek'!

One big word of advice though - lots of pet stores will try to sell you cages that are way too small. because they're so intelligent, they need a nice big home with lots of toys. They need at least an hour a day to run around outside their cage.

It's good to change things around a bit in their cage - adding new things etc (doesn't have to be expensive - cardboard tubes etc). I did a lot of research, and the Freddy Savic seems the best for many reasons.

Let me know how you get on...

Maternal Tales said...

sestropaThanks for the info - I got so excited about it today I almost told my daughter - but I haven't actually discussed it with hubby yet...will bring it up when he's in a good mood!!! x

Maternal Tales said...

Little award for you at mine x