Owning rats, or as some say, being owned by rats, is a journey. For me it began with being intensely rat-phobic to where I am now, rat-obsessed (ok, i admit it).


Rat Style

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I recently visited a site, cuteoverload.com, which features pictures of cute animals. It is a fun site, but I took exception to the following remark in their pocket pet section:

"There are those occasions where a perfect little nose leads to a not-so-cute animal (see possum or rat for instance)..."

As the saying goes, "cute is as cute does". How cute is a hamster when it chomps down on your finger?! Rat cuteness is much more than just how they look (which I happen to love); it is in how they are; how their individual natures express themselves; how they express their affection; their thought processes and interactions.

Simple movement provides a snapshot of each personality.


Oggie: constant motion, wrestles whatever he is against...your hair, your shirt, his brother. When he's not moving he's staring or running up to be kissed. He is the busiest of boys and not afraid of anything.

Bunny: sly sneaking (as he steals your paper towel or play nips your hand) and then mad dashing and jumping as he tries to escape, only to whirl around and start the cycle all over. Vigorous grooming of faces, including up the nostril with his unusually wet tongue (blech!). After all the running, he will come up close to my head and lay down like a little dog, staying near me and sometimes bruxing with his loud, clicking brux.

Otis: waddling occasionally punctuated with silly little jumps straight up in the air and 2 second sprints when he gets excited. This little weeble also wobbles when he's trying to see/judge distance to do his most favorite thing...JUMP! Unfortunately, he's either blind or uncoordinated or both, because he usually crashlands on the floor. And at least once during his time out, he comes up and assumes the "petting position" - his hands and chest resting on my arm, head extended and eyes half-closed as he waits to be scritched. Such a little puppy.

Buster: lizard-like motions...creep, creep, stop and freeze...repeat...run like the wind, then turn around from the safety of a small, dark place and STARE. I think this must be a "family" trait. Sometimes he will race around and fly, fly through the air, over the heads of the other rats. He is an odd little fellow. If he gets really scared he will run and jump in your shirt and peek out over the collar.


Dinky: cute, fat little waddle. She'll still try and squeeze through holes that are much too small. When she climbs down my arm to go back into her cage, her soft, warm body sort of oozes downward. She can move amazingly fast when she is in a nest-building mode (or when afraid). When she's doing interior redecorating she races downstairs for newspaper and hops into the hammock with it, then races back down for more. Most of the time, though, she likes to snuggle, especially in your shirt, on your chest, with her little head poking out to be petted. She has a ritual of licking John's nose every night. She will also kiss like crazy when you pet her and she doesn't want you to. Like she's trying to distract you and get you to stop in a non-confrontational sort of way.

Luna: busy, busy, busy...places to go, things to sniff, people to mark. She has gotten much more relaxed around people and will often come up close to your face to say hi and even give a little kiss occasionally. She likes to stay near her buddy, Dinky and they both love to go hang out in their cardboard house when Luna is done exploring.

Bailey: eager to get out and run around - she will run almost the whole time. Sometimes she chases Pickles which usually leads to a fight. Bailey is very attached to Pickles, though, and stays close. She does not seem to need, or want, human contact. She is not afraid of people anymore and will climb on you, but she has no connection. She doesn't really like being petted and will move herself out of range. I blame this on her early life as an orphan.

Pickles: Pickles used to be the same way as Bailey, but one day she looked at me in a really funny way. I don't know how to describe it. It was the kind of look you give someone you don't know who is about to catch you from a second-story window. She made her decision and jumped with a mighty leap onto my chest from her cage door and ever since then she is bonded to me. She watches me from the cage and positions herself to be taken out. When she is out, she always wants to know where I am and if I move she will follow me. If I leave, she will wait for me at the edge of the bed. She is busy, too, but likes to "check in" often and will occasionally kiss or groom. Very agile and can jump up and down with ease. Likes to play, but doesn't know how to be gentle (ouch), but she does love to be petted.


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  • Portland, OR, United States
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