by Stephanie Cameron
Stephanie Cameron is a volunteer with Rattie Ratz Rescue in the bay area of California. Each month KRL will be featuring a column from Rattie Ratz.
Brittany contacted Rattie Ratz Rescue in October of 2015 after losing her last group of boys. While initially planning to take a break from owning rats, Brittany soon discovered that she missed having them in her life. Though their bodies are small and their time with us is short, the holes they leave in our lives are large.
After filling out an adoption application, Brittany was matched with a group of five rats: four boys and one spayed sanctuary girl. Due to Rattie Ratz’s strict no kill policy, a sanctuary program was developed for rats that were deemed unadoptable for either behavior or health issues. Normally, Rattie Ratz does not ask adopters to be a sanctuary home, but because Brittany had experience handling and socializing rats with biting issues, she was made an exception.Brittany had never owned a female and was excited to take her home with the boys. She had a wonderful time getting to know her five furry buddies. She named the agouti boy Mr. Rat, the black Berkshire Pierre, the black hooded boys Stash and Nip, and the PEW (pink eyed white) girl Princess. As some of their names suggest, Princess “was really in charge and wanted to do things on her own terms,” and Nip had a bit of a nipping problem in the beginning. Thankfully, it didn’t take him too long to break this bad habit.
Nip’s favorite pastime involved pouncing on Brittany’s face whenever an opportunity presented itself. He was also an independent boy who scoffed at being cuddled unless she found juuust the right spot! If his secret spot was found, Nip would proceed to enjoy a lengthy massage.
Mr. Rat on the other hand was an absolute cuddle bug who craved constant attention from his Momma and would rather be in her arms than anywhere else. The only occasions when he could be distracted from his cuddles were when he went into stealth mode and attempted to get into something he knew was off limits. The mischievous Mr. Rat “would walk around and away from the item then suddenly dash towards it.” He would then congratulate himself by opening the lid to his Gerber Baby Puff snacks and helping himself. Mr. Rat was a sweet boy who came when called and would protect Brittany by pinning Princess if she tried to bite his Momma.Pierre was the alpha of the group. He enjoyed cuddles as long as they were on his terms and would always reward Brittany with kisses. He had a special bond with Princess and they would often be found sleeping together.
Stash is a sweet boy who received his name due to his penchant for always attempting to take multiple treats at a time – if they fit in his mouth it was fair game as far as he was concerned!While Stash is also an independent boy like his brother Nip, he secretly enjoys being with Brittany. Stash may run off if Brittany plays or cuddles with him, but he always comes back for more.
Princess is a special girl who has found a special place in Brittany’s heart. Brittany explains that : “getting to know Princess has been a heart changing experience. I felt that when this girl looked at me and interacted with me she was trying to understand me and get me to understand her. She did have biting issues when I got her and it was explained to me that she was originally going to be snake food, so I imagine her start to life was not very good and she had been to multiple foster homes. I think the biting came down to poor eyesight, some uncertainty about me, then honestly sometimes I don’t think she realized how her biting hurt.”
Brittany worked with Princess every day to gain her trust, and slowly but surely, Princess began to open up to Brittany. Princess learned that Brittany would protect her, so the sassy little girl would shriek if the boys got too pushy and would later sit next to Brittany as if to thank her for interfering on Princess’ behalf. If her squeaks were food related, Brittany would run over to see what was wrong only to find Princess calmly eating with the boys looking at her in bewilderment. Princess has been formally promoted to Queen of nesting and creates amazing masterpieces under Brittany’s bed.
Unfortunately, Brittany’s troop began to age as time went on. Mr. Rat went first. He had to be put to sleep due to a serious lung infection. Within a month of each other Pierre and Nip passed away as well. While it was heartbreaking to lose them, Brittany still has Stash and Princess and while they are slowing down in their old age they are still doing well.
According to Brittany, “These two are slowing down but Stash is still as cheeky as ever, pretending to not like my affection but won’t leave me alone when he is out of the cage for very long. Princess is still in charge, not making nests like she used to, but still enjoys exploring and sitting on my lap to spend time with me.”
The love and affection that developed between Brittany and her troop of ratties is unquestionable. Just like this troop couldn’t possibly replace the last group of boys she had, no rats will ever replace Mr. Rat, Pierre, Nip, Stash and Princess. Loving rats and having them in our lives can be painful because they always leave us far too soon, but their short life span also creates an opening, allowing people like Brittany to bring more needy rats into their home and give any new rats that come along the same opportunity to be showered in love and understanding.
If you would like to know more about Rattie Ratz Rescue you can visit their Facebook page. If you are interested in adoptable rats or volunteering for Rattie Ratz Rescue you can visit their website: www.rattieratz.com.
Check out more animal rescue stories in our Pet Perspective section & watch for more stories from Rattie Ratz every other month. Advertise in KRL and 10% of your advertising fees can go to Rattie Ratz.