Mortimer: From Street Rat to Kitchen King

Feb 20, 2016 | 2016 Articles, Rodent Ramblings

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.

Not all rescued rats come from homes or pet shops. Every once in a while a stray will appear. Mortimer was one such stray. He was found near Woodland over the summer and was taken to the Yolo County SPCA, who quickly contacted Rattie Ratz Rescue. The distinction between wild and domestic pet rats is quite obvious as domestic rats have been bred in a variety of colors. If you ever happen to see a rat with white on its body running down the street, know that you have an escaped pet rat making a break for it.



There was no way of knowing how long little Mortimer was running wild and free, and as a stray, there was no way to get any background information on him. Because no owners ever came forward, it’s likely he was dumped in a park, as so often happens with unwanted pet rats. Most dumped rats aren’t as lucky as Mortimer. Aside from the fact that they have never been taught to fend for themselves, domestic rats have a difficult time surviving in the wild because they stand out. Domestic rats come in a variety of colors: black, brown, blue, beige, fawn, silver, and white. Most of these colors don’t work very well as camouflage. Because rats are a prey animal, being able to hide and blend into their surroundings is crucial to their survival. It is impossible for a white rat to survive in the wild simply because they are too easily spotted by predators like owls, snakes, foxes, and more. rat

When Mortimer first came to Rattie Ratz, he was understandably nervous of people. As a rat who once knew freedom, he was now in the proverbial dog pound – or rat pound, if you will – and he didn’t quite know what to make of it or of his new jailers who liked to bribe him with tasty treats. Mortimer tried to stand firm against such bribes, but his stomach always won out in the end, and he came to look forward to his daily treats.

Rattie Ratz volunteers estimated Mortimer’s age at one year. On average, rats live 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 years, so Mortimer was in the prime of his life and could easily live another two years. After Rattie Ratz took in Mortimer, he was neutered and sent to his new foster home for rehabilitation.

While Mortimer is full of energy and spunk and is a wonderful rat to watch, it became apparent to his foster mom after a couple of months that he was never going to be an easy rat to handle. Though he was always the gentleman when taking treats from your hand, he liked being on his own, and he didn’t appreciate other people or rats getting in his way. Mortimer was the Lone Rat who wanted to go off on his own adventures. His foster began to worry that, if Mortimer ever got adopted, it would have to be to a very experienced rat owner. Right around this time another volunteer came forward looking for a sanctuary rat to keep in their family kitchen. And Mortimer was the perfect rat!

Rattie Ratz has a firm no kill policy. The only time a rat is euthanized is if they are sick, their medication isn’t working, and their quality of life is suffering. Because of this policy, Rattie Ratz established a sanctuary program for rats that have been deemed ‘unadoptable.’ From aggression to abscesses no rats are turned away or euthanized simply because they have issues. Sanctuary rats are paired with a volunteer who has the necessary experience to take care of them. rat

Mortimer joined the sanctuary program and is now living the life of a kitchen rat. The environmental stimulation of the kitchen with its constant noise and movement is beneficial for a rat like Mortimer who thrives off of no-touch interaction. He has a large three-story cage all to himself on a side table against the wall of the kitchen. He gets all the dinner scraps he could possibly want. He has a sanctuary mom who knows exactly how to handle him, and he gets to reign supreme within the domain of the kitchen. rat

From street rat to kitchen King, Mortimer has traveled quite a ways to be where he is today and is living the high life in his new sanctuary home. Mortimer and his sanctuary mom will always have access to resources provided by Rattie Ratz. Mortimer is currently one of 18 sanctuary rats.

If you would like to know more about Mortimer or 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.

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.

Stephanie Cameron works and lives in the Bay Area, and has been active in the rat rescue community for a number of years. She got her first pair of rats – sisters named Snowflake and Diamond – when she was eight years old. In her spare time she enjoys reading, walking her dogs, traveling, discovering fantastic vegan recipes, and singing in the shower.


  1. I can’t believe no one’s commented this yet. Does anyone else think Mortimer is cute?

    • I think that ALL rats are cute!

  2. Mortimer is adorable! Rattie Ratz Rescue is fantastic!! I’ve adopted many rats from Rattie Ratz. I’ve had 31 rats over the last 15 years and currently have 6. Rats are absolutely wonderful pets. They love people and are lots of fun. I’m a Pocket Pet Volunteer for Humane Society Silicon Valley (another great rescue organization) and I love educating adults and kids about caring for pet rats, Guinea pigs and hamsters.

    • GOOD for you, Frank! The world needs more men like you. There are so many women in animal rescue. Few men. Tell your friends!

  3. Mortimer is an absolute “bunny” of a rattie! He looks very at home in the kitchen and will no doubt reign supreme for the rest of his spoiled little life. 🙂

  4. Some rats, like Mortimer, need just a little extra understanding! Thank you for taking care of this boy!

  5. Mortimer is still doing well. He is now Kitchen King in our home in Oregon. Mortimer lives with his cage door open, has for a long time, and only the last couple months he’s decided he’d like to get out and take short walks on the window sill. He’s still very much a home-body.

    • How sweet! I WISH I could let mine run around, but I’ve a dog & four cats, at least half of whom would just love to have a nice juicy rattie meal. Give Mortimer kisses from me, especially on Valentine’s Day!


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