by Stephanie Cameron
Stephanie Cameron is a volunteer with Rattie Ratz Rescue in the bay area of California. Each month KRL will be featuring a column from Rattie Ratz.
Rats are very intelligent and social animals that have complex hierarchical systems within a colony. If you are considering pet rats as a companion animal, it is very important that you bring home at least two rats. Because they are so social, rats very much need same species companionship the same way humans need companionship. Also, like humans, some rats are more reserved while others crave constant attention from their fellow rat friends. Regardless of what personality your rat has, they will greatly benefit from having a rat friend or two of which they can snuggle together in the hammock, steal food from each other and groom each other.
Because an average household only owns 2-3 rats at a time most people don’t get the chance to observe the complex relationships found within a larger colony. Those who have larger rat colonies – affectionately referred to as a ‘Mischief’ in the rat community – have the opportunity to see how complex the relationship between rats can be. Though it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to keep a larger mischief, for many it is worth every cent spent on food, and time spent cleaning cages. I dare say they’re even more fun to watch than fish in a tank!Someone who understands how rewarding it can be to have a larger mischief is Eero, a repeat adopter of Rattie Ratz Rescue. Eero first reached out to Rattie Ratz the summer of 2017 when they adopted three males rescued from a lab. To read more on the story of this lab rescue, check out Sammy and Saltine’s story here. Eero has had rats for years and has a great set up at home, the only catch being that they live in Northern Oregon. Eero had a three-way video call with the rescue’s executive directors for a virtual house check, which was passed with flying colors. As luck would have it, a Rattie Ratz volunteer was leaving the rescue to attend university in Oregon, and they were willing to transport the rats up to Eero to complete the adoption.
Eero named the three lab boys Alioth, Arneb and Ey. “Arneb is the friendliest towards people, he likes to come up for a quick shoulder scritch before zooming off to do rattie things again. Alioth pretends he is a big bad rat, but he’s a total baby. He runs away from anything that moves and is always the last to eat, keeping watch to make sure the monster (me) isn’t trying anything sketchy. Ey is Mr. Head Sway. Always looking around to make sure he’s safe. He likes pets on his back before running away when he notices that the hand petting him is attached to a human! How scary!”
Eero loved the boys and after some time had passed, they reached out to Rattie Ratz again in January 2019 asking if the rescue had any big squishy albino boys up for adoption, like the boys they had adopted last summer. Once again, as luck would have it, the rescue had just taken in two large albino boys. These new boys were dumped behind a humane society building in a plastic storage tote overnight. When staff found them in the morning they reached out to neighboring shelters, as their facility was not equipped to house rats. The Contra Costa Animal Shelter took in the rats, but they were also unequipped to keep the boys long-term and a volunteer with another small animal rescue asked Rattie Ratz for help placing the rats.
Rattie Ratz picked the boys up at the shelter and took them to a foster home where they underwent quarantine and assessment. Other than being overweight, the boys were in good health and were friendlier than expected considering the method in which they were surrendered. Unfortunately, the rescue didn’t have any volunteers headed up to Oregon in the near future, so they enlisted the help of an animal transportation service. The boys were safely brought to Oregon where they made a bunch of new friends.
Eero named the boys Alcor and Azha. “Alcor is smaller, squints his eyes a lot and likes to /pretend/ he wants attention. He doesn’t! He just wants to be where the other rats are! Which is usually hanging out of the cage begging for attention. Azha is the BIG PEW. 900+ grams of giant meanie! Other rats cower when he walks by, even though they could definitely just briskly walk out of his reach! He is a total love once I catch him and am holding him though. I think once he’s lost some weight and can be neutered, he will be awesome all around! Though he is still perfect just the way he is now, and I wouldn’t trade him for anything.”
Having such a large mischief, whenever new rats are added to the group, the dynamic shifts, as the rats rediscover who the alphas are and who the bettas are. Oftentimes the introductions are successful within a couple weeks and once the dust settles you have the satisfaction of seeing a few extra tails and noses poking out of a cozy and sleepy rat pile. Alioth, Arneb, Ey, Alcor and Azha have settled in nicely and have a special place with Eero’s mischief where they enjoy being spoiled in their new home, even naughty alpha Azha!
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.
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