Rattie Ratz Rescue: Mo’ Problems

Mar 21, 2015 | 2015 Articles, Rodent Ramblings

by ViVien Hoang

ViVien Hoang 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.

Any pet owner will tell you that it is ridiculously easy to anthropomorphize our pets. We love giving our furry (and not so furry) companions human-like qualities: a dog with a wry sense of humor, or a cat that enjoys watching trashy reality TV with us.

It’s no different with rats.

Most rats I’ve ever had typically fall under two descriptions: sweet and friendly, or timid and skittish. Then Rattie Ratz, a Bay Area not-for-profit rat rescue, asked if we would foster a lone male rat. He was estimated to be about a year old and had spent the majority of his young adult life in a cage alone, at a shelter, before being pulled by a Rattie Ratz volunteer.

How could we say no?

It normally takes me a day or two before we figure out a good name for our foster rats. You want to give them time to adjust to their new surroundings, to let their personalities shine through.

But with the new guy, he was Mortimer right away, or Mo for short.



Mo was a grump. A curmudgeonly old man. He was never aggressive, but you got the distinct impression that he was always vaguely annoyed by humans. We gave him an empty Club brand cracker box (which we dubbed Club Mo), and he begrudgingly made it the equivalent of his ratty front porch. He would sit in the box, his pink nose and whiskers poking out, his dark eyes barely visible. He would watch the activity in our apartment, and I’m sure if he could speak, he would have been saying something akin to, “You kids get off my lawn!” while shaking a tiny paw. I would reach inside the box to give him scratches, which he seemed to tolerate for a time (especially behind the ears), but then when he had had enough of me, he would gently nudge my hand out of the box. If I didn’t get the hint, he would grip my fingers politely with his teeth and move my hand away from his cracker box. He never bit me, no matter how exasperated he seemed with my unabashed affection. rat

Mo preferred my husband’s company. I would often find the two of them hanging out on the couch. My husband would be working on his laptop, and Mo would be sitting next to him, dozing or grooming. He gradually became accustomed to human company once we adapted our socializing strategy to Mo’s M.O. You just needed to move slowly and quietly. Mo was a stately old gentleman rat, after all.

We were fairly resigned to the fact that we would likely have to foster Mo for the rest of his life. A lone male rat can be difficult to adopt out; a lone male who was a little cantankerous would be even more difficult. Most of our adopters want playful, cuddly and friendly. Mo was none of these things. And yet, he had found a crotchety spot in our hearts, so keeping him would be no big difficulty on our parts.

But we gave up on Mo’s adoption chances too soon.

We were soon matched with K.B., who also had an older male rat, Nelson, whose ratty buddy had passed away. K.B. stopped by with Nelson for a visit. I can’t say the two rats became instant friends; Nelson sulked, Mo got puffy and defensive, and we hovered around like helicopter parents. rats

But K.B. saw potential for a friendship and we were willing to take the chance with the adoption. Rattie Ratz has a policy where we will “welcome back” any of our adopted rats, no questions asked. We understand that sometimes an adoption doesn’t work out and since we were responsible for initially sending them off, we were also responsible for making sure we got them back safely if necessary.

So off Mo went, cranky face in his Club box, while we all had our fingers crossed.

ratsMo was adopted shortly before Christmas and we didn’t hear anything from K.B. for a few weeks. For me, no news was good news: it meant things were progressing well enough with Mo that we wouldn’t have to take him back. Then, the best email of all: K.B. sent me photographs of Mo and Nelson exploring on a blanket and cuddling in a hut!

Mo’s adoption reminded me that there is a forever home out there for every rat, no matter how unique their personalities or their situations. It’s just up to us to help them find it!

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.

Vivien Hoang lives and works in the Bay Area, and has been active in the rat rescue community for a number of years. In her spare time, she enjoys writing and photography, checking out new restaurants, spending time with family and friends, and traveling to warm beaches.


  1. What a lovely story. I’m so glad that Mo settled in with Nelson. Lovely photos!

  2. wonderful story – thank-you for sharing the Mo story:)

  3. Yes, my daughter K.B. adopted Mo and we’ve all been enjoying him ever since. Even after a few months now, the relationship between Mo and Nelson keeps evolving, but my daughter is a rat “pro” and has dealt with every rat personality you can ever imagine. Soon she and her husband will be leaving us to move back East, but I look forward to visiting with Mo and Nelson on Skype. 🙂 P.S. Mo also loves those small facial tissue boxes, but he and Nelson naturally have to squish in to share whatever little box is in their 4-story cage.


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