Rattie Ratz: Woniya and Her Babies

Jan 27, 2024 | 2024 Articles, Animal Rescue Adventures, Rodent Ramblings

by Daria Filimonova

In December 2022, Woniya and her family decided to reopen their hearts to keeping rats and adopted five baby boys: AC/DC, Cappy, Sherlock, Watson, and Ernie. However, the story of their journey as rat owners started way before then.

Woniya tells Rattie Ratz that she and her husband had their first pet rats in college when they realized they missed having animal companionship after growing up around animals. Admittedly, Woniya does not remember what prompted them to choose rats exactly, but she says it was the best decision they could have made.

Despite the constant stigma surrounding pet rats, Woniya and her husband decided to take a chance and realized that rats are amazing companions. “Most people hear ‘pet rat,’ and their mind immediately goes to thinking of sewer rats. Fancy rats are like mini dogs. They are incredibly smart, curious, all have their own personality, highly trainable,” Woniya writes. Their first rats, named Kayla and Templeton, lived until almost 3 years old, which is a very good age for pet rats to achieve.

Despite enjoying the companionship rats provided, Woniya and her husband found themselves unable to commit to owning rats again at the time. They were devastated by the loss and couldn’t imagine going through that anguish again so soon. “We have always considered ‘pets’ as part of our family and couldn’t imagine going through that loss again so quickly,” Woniya discloses, and as a fellow pet parent, I would have to agree with her sentiments.

As a rat owner, these little guys make such an impact on your life during the few years that they have with you, so it is completely understandable when owners take a break from having animals despite their love for them. After a few years, Woniya and her husband did eventually get two puppies that remained with them until they passed at a ripe old age, after which Woniya’s family took another break from pets.

“After the passing of both our dogs, our home was missing the companionship, joy, and unconditional love you get from pets. Our daughters wanted to get other dogs, but we weren’t ready. Our youngest daughter asked if we could get a pet rat. We were hesitant at first; thinking back to the loss of our first “babies.” I always called them my babies. However, we decided to get a pet rat for our youngest daughter’s birthday,” Woniya writes, in an explanation of how they learned of Rattie Ratz.

Having decided to own rats again, Woniya did some research and found a pet store in San Francisco that carried fancy rats from a breeder. The two boys they got from the store re-ignited their love for rats, and after the brothers passed, the family wanted to adopt more. As the pet store no longer carried rats, Woniya searched online and came across Rattie Ratz rescue. Woniya and her family were looking to adopt babies to be able to spend as much time as they could with their companions because unfortunately, rat lifespans are short.

They put in an adoption application, and eventually, three baby boys were available to go home. Woniya and her family named them Casper, Monkey, and Monty. Even though this was a few years ago now, Woniya remembers that the adoption experience was pleasant.

After completing the adoption application and being matched with the three available boys, Woniya waited for the quarantine period to end, during which the foster mom sent them regular updates and photos of the trio. After the trio lived out their days, Woniya applied once again to adopt from Rattie Ratz because of how well rats fit into their lives – especially for Woniya, who suffers from chronic illness that frequently leaves her bedridden. “Although we initially got our rats for our daughters, I found that they provided so much comfort and joy for me,” says Woniya.

With their latest experience, Woniya’s husband picked up five baby boys from an adoption event after waiting for a litter of babies to be available for adoption. “Our recent babies were the youngest we had ever adopted. They were so tiny…and quick! Ernie was the shyest and tended to hide in a corner. Cappy was the most curious”, Woniya writes.

Her family set out tunnels and boxes for the babies to explore and feel comfortable in their new home. Woniya really enjoys being a rat owner because her babies bring her so much joy. When asked to describe a little about the boys, Woniya said: “Each one has a unique personality that has evolved as they have gotten older. They are all very playful and curious. Cappy enjoys being held the most and petted like a kitten. They love to explore, are obsessed with tissue, and would rather play in boxes than actual ‘rat hideouts’.”

So what is the best part of owning rats? According to Woniya, the best part of having rats is the unconditional love they give. Additionally, Woniya notes that rats are highly intelligent, can be taught tricks, and watching their personalities evolve is fascinating. The boys spend their time hanging out with the family outside of their cage. Woniya also adds that they enjoy shoulder rides and will all pile on at the same time!

Despite loving the experiences pet rats bring and the companionship, the biggest challenge still remains their short lifespans, not only for Woniya and her family but for rat owners all around the world. “After the loss of our first two, I didn’t know if I could handle that again, but the joy they give supersedes that. I love seeing the different personalities with each new baby we get,” Woniya writes and summarizes how most rat owners feel and why many continue owning these little creatures.

If you are interested in pet rats or adoption, Woniya has some advice to give first-time rat owners: “Rats are incredibly social and curious animals. I highly recommend allowing them time outside of their cage. The more they are handled by their owner, the more comfortable they become and their personalities evolve. Human interaction is key!”

Woniya also points out that rats need stimulation so that they do not get bored and go to town chewing things that they shouldn’t. You may also need to rat-proof the area where you would let them out to free-roam so that they do not chew on cords or cables. You can train them to recognize their name, and they will understand that you are talking to them. You can even train them to come when called!

Finally, the most important piece of advice that Woniya has is to make sure you have located a vet that takes fancy rats. Fancy rats are considered exotic pets, and often it is hard to find a rat-savvy vet in your area. That is why it is extremely important to know who you are going to go to in the case of a medical emergency. Despite the stigma and misunderstandings that surround pet rats these guys are not as hardy as one would think. Rats are prone to many health issues such as tumors and respiratory infections. As a rat owner, Woniya recommends going to the vet if you notice something is off right away.

Rattie Ratz would like to thank Woniya for taking the time to talk to us about her family’s rat experience and for adopting and providing a loving home to all of their boys, both current and previous. If you, dear reader, would like to support or learn more about the rescue or perhaps are interested in submitting an adoption application yourself, please visit rattieratz.org. Thanks for reading and please feel free to share this happy adoption story to help us de-stigmatize pet rats!

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. You can also keep up with our pet articles by joining our KRL Facebook group. Advertise in KRL and 10% of your advertising fees can go to Rattie Ratz.

1 Comment

  1. Always good to read stories of rattie adoptions.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.