Douglass: A Wild Ride to Free-Range Heaven

Mar 18, 2017 | 2017 Articles, Animal Rescue Adventures, Rodent Ramblings

by Alyssa Nader

Alyssa Nader 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.

Our featured rescue rat of the month had a terrible first roommate. He lived in a tank with a snake. This went on for two weeks: the snake was not interested in eating him. In spite of this, the snake was antisocial, cold-blooded, and still not a good roommate. Once the snake’s owner realized that his pet was not going to eat the feeder rat that he had purchased, he gave him to a friend, who named him Bacon. The friend wasn’t able to keep Bacon and the volunteers at Rattie Ratz took him in.

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Douglass, formerly Bacon

Perhaps due to his time spent living with a strange roommate who was also his natural predator, Bacon was very aggressive towards other animals and didn’t get along with any of the other rescues or foster rats he met. Despite this, Bacon was very sweet and affectionate to humans. The volunteers at Rattie Ratz worked with Bacon to get him ready to be placed in his forever home.

Seth came to Rattie Ratz as an experienced rat owner with an unorthodox way of caring for his rats. Rather than keeping his pets in a cage and allowing them some daily out-of-cage time as most rat owners do, Seth free-ranges his rats all the time. This means that they are not confined to a cage. Instead, in Seth’s case, the rats’ home is an open, converted dresser which is, for the little rats, a chewable four-story, six-room condo.

The rats run free in the home 24 hours a day, exploring the entire house and interacting with him as much as they like. The rats are trained to use litter boxes, like cats, so there is no worry about a mess while they run about. Seth takes care to make sure that they have new areas and objects to explore every day. This is highly unusual, but likely a rat’s idea of heaven. Any rat that Seth took home was in for a big and wonderful surprise.

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Seth’s other rat, Benjamin, was left alone after his companion, Beloved, passed away. Rats are highly social animals, just like people, who need the companionship of a member of their own species to be happy. Seth could tell that Benjamin was lonely living alone without Beloved; he would even wake up to find that Benjamin had pressed his tiny body up to him in the night. Seth contacted Rattie Ratz to find Benjamin a new companion, and to give one of our rescues a loving, forever home.

Seth heard about Bacon’s trying past and his present issues with aggression with other rats. He was concerned, but willing to give him a chance. He came to our volunteer’s home and chatted for a long time, getting to know Bacon in his own environment. Seth then took him home in a carrier on BART, something that he has always enjoyed doing since it gives a valuable natural opportunity to educate other people about rats and to dispel many of the negative ideas that people have about them.

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Seth’s first order of business was to rename Bacon; a food name was quite morbid and inappropriate considering his past. He renamed him Douglass, a human name, since Seth’s rats are people to him. Seth introduced Douglass to Benjamin slowly and carefully, using the carrier to keep them separated and safe initially. Douglass was quite aggressive at first, but Benjamin is a patient and wise rat, and he wanted to be friends. He laid in front of the door of the carrier and let Douglass get out his aggression.

Eventually, Seth sensed that it was time for the boys to settle this and took Douglass out of the carrier. They tussled for a bit and Benjamin put Douglass gently, but firmly, in his place. No longer the bully he once was, Douglass tried to hide back in the carrier, even trying to chew his way in. Seth didn’t let him, and he and Benjamin stopped their territorial fights and quickly became inseparable companions.

Douglass is as happy as can be in his new home. He plays games with Benjamin, like football, where they each take turns grabbing a chip and taking it over their respective goal lines. Seth never serves the same meal to the boys two days in a row. He says they’re so spoiled that they will not eat peanuts since they prefer cashews. They spend their days getting massages, stealing from Seth’s large crystal collection, and exploring (and at times killing) plants.

Thanks to the volunteers at Rattie Ratz, and wonderful adopters like Seth, Douglass’s second chance at life continues to be an adventure, and he is surrounded by love, freedom, and fun.

Rattie Ratz is an all-volunteer organization whose mission is to help all domesticated ratties who come to us find a loving, forever home.

Rattie Ratz: Rescue, Resource, & Referral
Click here to email us at: info@rattieratz[dot]com
Call us at: (415) 340-1896

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:

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.

Alyssa Blake Nader is a writer and mental health professional living in the Bay Area. She is new to the rat community and mother to two rat brothers named Bitey and Pablo. In her free time, she enjoys creating art, improve performance, dancing to techno, and bothering everyone about rats.


  1. Lovely story about one lucky rattie falling into Seth’s heaven for rats. I’m glad to know that Rattie Ratz is still doing such good work.

    • Thanks Kathy. F.Y.I. the plant Douglass killed after patience care is starting to come back to life again. (A maiden hair fern.)

      Douglass is one of my pride and joys. Free ranging rats was an accidental experiment. If anyone wants advice and tips, I’m happy to help.

    • Thanks Kathy. F.Y.I. the plant Douglass killed after patience care is starting to come back to life again. (A maiden hair fern.)

      Douglass is one of my pride and joys. Free ranging rats was an accidental experiment. If anyone wants advice and tips, I’m happy to help.


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