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).


Apologizing in Advance

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I'm moving. If you've ever tried to move a household with two large dogs and nine rats, (or any large animal contingent) I know you will have sympathy with the chaos I am presently in.

Please accept my apology for the irregularity of my posting schedule. I'll still try for once a week but I may not be quite as regular for awhile until I get settled.

Until next time...

Ok, with that cautionary disclaimer in place...

Awhile back I read about a zoo somewhere that has a rat exhibit of Rattus Norvegicus and they noticed that when the water sprinkler was on the rats would congregate underneath it, seemingly enjoying it so they made it a permanent part of the exhibit. If anyone has the link to that article let me know.

I couldn't find that reference, but I did find this: there is a zoo in the Netherlands with a rat "sewer" exhibit that features water. Anyway, the point to all this being that a strange idea was planted in my head after reading that and then subsequently reading about a rat owner who took her rats in the shower with her. When I told my husband I wanted to try it he told me I was crazy and I conceded that he was probably right, that they'd probably freak and I'd get mauled. But I still secretly yearned to try it. I mentioned it again the other day to someone, not a rat person, but sympathetic to rats and she said "that's insane, that is sick".

Maybe that's what finally did it. I have a perverse and obstinate nature and if enough people tell me I can't do something I usually have to try it. Consider me like that dude, George Plimpton, (someone characterized him as a participatory journalist), who checked it out so you don't have to. Or, if you are adventurous, follow my tips for an excellent adventure.

Showering with rats

First of all let me just say that they all LOVED it (well, with the exception of Peaches who jumped onto my head at first). Of course I didn't try Luna, my super-shy girl or Pickles and Bailey, the Rescue Rats. I'm crazy, but not suicidal.

And let me say, I LOVED it. Not because it proved me right, but because it let me share a new and different experience with the kids.

OK, so here's how I did it.
First the preparatory phase:
  • Move anything out of the shower that might get in the way.
  • Position the shampoo (I used a mild dog and cat shampoo) up high where it will be easy to reach.
  • Change the water setting to a spray that is closest to rain
  • Make the water temperature hotter than you normally use
  • Put on a t-shirt (long sleeves and high neck would be best, if possible)
  • Put towels where they are easily accessible
  • Turn the shower on and leave it running while you go and get test subject
Second phase:
  • Choose your guinea rat. I chose Buster because he is the most docile in terms of being handled.
  • Put them on your shoulder (this assumes they are already comfortable shoulder riders)
  • Step into the shower with them, but not directly into the water at first
  • Talk "happy talk" to them and pet them
  • Tell them what an exciting adventure they are on
  • Slowly back both of you into the water spray, just enough to get them a little wet. They may move away at this point. Just pet them and let them explore, then move back again
  • Turn to get them wet every so often (at this point several of them were helping me, putting their face into the spray, grooming my wet head, etc...).
  • When they are pretty thoroughly wet, get a little soap into your hands (you may want to dilute it with water a little so it is easier to rinse)
  • Scrub-a-dub-dub, but avoid the face
  • Rinse the same way you got them wet initially (if you have a hand-held shower you can use it to get closer to get the last of the soap off).
  • Get out of the shower and dry off rat
  • OR if you are doing multiple rats, call your assistant (yoo-hoo, John...) to come and take your wet rat and replace it with another one.
And if you do try this at home (or you have already tried it), please report back. I'd love to hear your experiences!


Ratvocate: A Poem

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Well, Pez and I took a trip to the outside world yesterday and it was ugly. Ratphobes all around. I came home feeling discouraged and wrote the first 4 stanzas of a poem about people's ignorance.

When I showed it to John he gently reminded me that I used to feel that way, too and that centuries of prejudice couldn't be eradicated overnight. That was a wake-up call. There is alot of work to do to educate people, hence the title and the last 4 stanzas.


by E. McGarvey
dedicated to Pez and Ratty

I think that they will never see
this rat
as lovely as can be.

Her velvet tail and sparkling eyes
are beauties
they don't recognize.

I think that they will ever be
too blind
and ignorant to see

this innocent and trusting soul,
a love
that they will never know.

And yet, I too, was once like them
so full
of fear and ignorance.

One little rat, with bright pink eyes
taught me
my fear was ancient lies.

So I will try and do the same
to clear
the clouds of human blame;

to teach them of this special pleasure,
a rat,
a gift, a moment's treasure.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License. That means you are welcome to keep it or redistribute it as long as you give credit and don't make changes or use commercially.

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Rat Crafters and Artists: Part 1

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In my constant pursuit of all things RAT, I came across several artists and crafsters doing exciting stuff with a rat theme. In fact, I found so many that I am making this a two-part post.

Kim Parkhurst does amazing realistic dollwork, including this fabulous hairless rat, Puddin. Also, check out her rat prints at her Ebay store
Toad Briar and her photos of her other dolls and paintings (and her own pet rats!) on her Flickr site.

This next piece was found on crafster.org. I find the idea particularly endearing and the patch itself is very beautifully and sensitively crafted. It is a personal tribute from Miz Persnicket (aka Athanasia).
"I did this large patch last week on a whim instead of studying for a midterm. My camera was out of batteries, so I had to scan it! It is a homage to my Mister Mayo."
You can check out Miz Persnicket's craft blog, crafty olive, to see her other work.

I love the diversity of styles and mediums I found. These next pieces are just a few of a large collection of stained and fused glass rats done by artist and ratlover, Elizabeth Rupert. Her glass studio is called Mischief Glassworks. I especially like the rat with wings and am fascinated by how the pieces glow.

Ultraviolet, another ratlover and craftster.org member, made Pirate Rat from a pattern in Debbie Bliss' book Toy Knits, and then this cute little female rat based on a Fairy Mouse pattern from the same book. I like the fact that it really looks like a rat and not a mouse (altho I have nothing against mieces...I'm just tired of people thinking mice are cute, but rats are ugly)! You can see photos of some of Ultraviolet's former rats and other knitting projects at her www.threegoodrats.com website.

piebirdjosie (aka Josie), another craftster.org member, had this to say about her cool rat hat:
"I just added some ears and ribbon to a basic hat. Now hopefully my rats will let me into their exclusive club."
She also created the wonderful Dear Birthday Rat Bag for the friend who inspired her to adopt her rats. You can find out more about Josie, her creations and her furry friends at her website, piebirdjosie.squarespace.com

Tara's angel rat, another craftster.org find, has such a soulful expression. I love the unusual colors and bead accessories she used.

The first time I saw this cake made by Rach of the Jungle, for her rat-obsessed roomate's birthday, I thought it was a picture of real rats eating a cake. It is a truly inspired idea and the marzipan rats are amazingly realistic. Someone posted the link to the ratlist which is what inspired me to search craftster.org for more rat-related stuff, so I guess Rach is responsible for this post!


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  • Portland, OR, United States
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