by Stephanie Cameron
Stephanie Cameron is a volunteer with Rattie Ratz Rescue in the bay area of California. Each month KRL will be featuring at least one animal rescue adventure story, and every other month there will be one from Rattie Ratz.
One of the hardest lessons a rat owner will ever learn is that the life span of a rat is far too short. When a rat’s life is cut even shorter by an illness, it is that much more devastating. In many cases, the grief-stricken owners are left behind with a mourning cage-mate to look after. This sad occurrence brings many adopters to rescues like Rattie Ratz, where they come looking for a companion for their remaining rat. Maryanne was one such adopter.
Maryanne came home from work one evening, and took her two boys—-her rats—-out for a play session as usual. One of the boys seemed unusually clumsy and lethargic, and she knew right away that something was wrong. After multiple trips to two different vets and an unending supply of prescribed medication, and “helpless veterinarian shrugs,” their little one passed away.
Maryanne describes that difficult time as hopeless and heartbreaking: “During that short time, I learned what it felt like to have your heart break, to lose a little piece of it. I learned what it felt like to wake up during the night to syringe feed a tired, sick rat who struggled to sit up, and seemed constantly caked in porphyrin. He would stagger off ramps and high levels, and weave through his cage with seemingly no purpose. I learned what it felt like to do everything in your power to get the right medical attention, the right intervention, and still be completely useless. We did what we could by making sure he was comfortable and fed. In the end, I hope that when he left, he knew how much he was loved.”
After their rat passed away, Maryanne’s remaining boy, Bernard, seemed lost. “He was always the slower and quieter one of the two. Always one step behind his brother, he was now lonely and confused.” Maryanne and her husband spent as much time with him as they could, but they knew that what Bernard really needed was another rattie companion, and they looked into several adoption agencies before coming to Rattie Ratz Rescue.
Maryanne and Bernard were matched up with two friendly males, and although they had to wait a few weeks for the new boys to be neutered, it was worth it. The new rats have been renamed Ralf (a tan Berkshire) and Morty (a black Berkshire). They settled into their new home right away. According to Maryanne, “They are unimaginably happy and cheeky buggers that I can’t imagine life without them. From the first day we met them, we knew we lucked out big time. It could have been the moment that Ralf hopped everywhere excitedly, and then decided it was time to have a good brux and a nap on my lap. Maybe it was the moment when they took food straight away and settled down to munch it contentedly (then returned for second and third helpings). Possibly the moment came during that rough phase known as the introduction period, and both Ralf and Morty acted as peaceful ambassadors for their species, even in the face of an unhappy resident rat. Rather than meet aggression with aggression, time and time again they initiated grooming interactions and peaceful interventions.”
After the initial introductions, the three boys became fast friends. And now, four months later, they are inseparable. They sleep in big snuggly piles, they happily steal food from each other, and they bounce about their cage enjoying each other’s antics. Now, Maryanne and her husband’s favorite part of the day is coming home from work and seeing three whiskered faces happily peeking out of the cage.
Maryanne has never met rats who bruxxed so frequently and so happily. She has also discovered the wonders of the rat pancake (Pancaking is when the rat lays down flat on their belly and kind of splays out all four legs, so they look big and round, like a pancake): “Ralf will follow us around the room and his favorite pastime is to pancake and people watch. Sometimes his response is to pancake upon saying hello because he loves being patted so much.”
Maryanne tells us that: “Neither my husband nor I grew up with rats, and to be honest, I was homesick for my dog when we decided we would try looking after these apartment-friendly, pocket-sized pals instead. These three little chipmunks have so much joie de vivre. I think my husband said it best. One night after their good night yogies and pats, he turned to me and said, ‘I don’t care what people think, rats are cool.’ Darn straight rats are cool. I’m so glad to have met them.”
It sounds like Maryanne, her husband, and their resident rat, Bernard, have all developed wonderful relationships with Ralf and Morty, and vice versa! Thanks to Ralf and Morty, Bernard will never be lonely again; and now, there is more rattie love in Maryanne’s home than ever before. And yes, let’s spread the word: rats are cool!
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.