Rattie Ratz: A Tribute To Hansel

May 11, 2024 | 2024 Articles, Animal Rescue Adventures, Pets, Rodent Ramblings

by Daria Filimonova

Hansel and Brussel

In February of last year, I wrote an article about my personal experience owning rats. It was sort of a memorial piece for my first official mischief (a group of rats) that really solidified my identity as a rat owner. Towards the end of the article, I stated that I was having a hard time bonding with the new boys I rescued because of the heartbreak of losing the last boy of that first mischief. More than a year later, I want to correct this statement because I have absolutely built a bond. I am blown away by how much the rescued boys, Hansel and Brussel, have flourished and become such an essential part of my life over the past two years. It is with great sadness that I recently parted with Hansel who ended up becoming another heart rat for me. I would love to tell you a little about my little boy who I affectionately called “handsome Hansel”.

A heart rat for a rat owner is a rat that they really bond with and connect with on a deeper level, like best friends or soulmates. You can have more than one heart rat; I know I have. Hansel for me was like a little ray of sunshine. He and Brussel were part of about a dozen rats I saved from a backyard feeder-breeder. The boys were all skittish and traumatized but with a new safe environment, love, and patience, they soon found homes and Brussel and Hansel got to stay with me.

They took some work, but within a few months their bravery grew as did their clear attachment for me. Especially for Hansel. Over the past two years he had gotten so comfortable with my husband and me and our home. He knew he was safe and that meant he got to be himself. Some of my favorite quirks of his have been:

1. He always gave kisses whenever he wanted something. I would pick him up, kiss him, and he would kiss me back but then wiggle to be let go. Same with cuddling, I would hold him and when he had enough he would start licking at my fingers, like “Look Ma, I’m a good boy and I love you too, now let me go play!” When he wanted to come out of the cage, he would sit on the lava ledge near the door and wait.My husband or I would sit down and open the door, and he would lick our hands or knees before using us as a ladder to get down and run around the room. He really loved to explore the rat room, and I will miss the sound of his little feet scrabbling across the floor.


2. Hansel loved building nests. He would stuff his mouth with crinkle paper or any type of bedding and drag it up to his favorite sleeping spots. I have a few videos of him carrying paper across the cage into the sputnik or his favorite hammock which bring me so much joy. Especially a certain video where he is attempting to drag a huge piece of cage liner up the lava ledges and into the sputnik only to trip over the liner and fall. He was so funny and so full of personality.

3. He loved food so much. He was definitely food motivated.e He learned how to spin for treats and would constantly be the first at the cage doors for when my husband and I treated them to bits of our dinner. He loved to eat so much that he never had a problem taking any medications because he would even lick up antibiotics from their syringes. He would grab something from us and then quickly run away to eat it. His favorites included pasta, deli meats, and lately sunflower seeds.

4. Hansel was very vocal. He would make his high-pitched “EEK EEK EEK” noises whenever he was unhappy with how he was being treated, either at the vet or even when Brussel would groom him too aggressively. We would hear Hansel whining and then look over and it would just be because of Brussel stepping on him and cleaning his neck, nothing serious or worth being that dramatic over. We thought it was so cute and special because our other rats rarely vocalize.

5. He loved to dig. I just set up a playpen with a cat tree and a dig box for my ratties, and every time I brought home fresh mint and other herbs to plant into the dig box, Hansel would be the first to make it a mess and eat most of the mint.

6. You could tell that he loved us as much as we loved him. Hansel was filled with love for us and Brussel. He would boggle* when I pet him while watching shows on the couch; he would proactively come out and socialize; and he could always be found sleeping with his older brother, Brussel.*Boggling is an eye movement rats do when happy. It’s like a cat purring or dog wagging its tail.

7. Most importantly, his silly little face and big ears. My husband would constantly pick him up and then turn him towards me saying “Look at those ears!” Hansel would sniff away at the air and lick my husband’s fingers so he would let him go and he looked so cute doing it. My husband and I got into a routine of talking about him, coming up with a lot of nicknames or mimicking his cute behaviors, and it is definitely difficult to adjust to his absence when he was such an integral part of our lives and home for two years.

We will miss him so much. Pets that we own will forever be in our hearts, and any time we get to spend with them is a gift, no matter the heartache that unfolds after they are gone. For rats especially, we are their whole world, and I just hope Hansel knew how much of mine he was too. He was truly the handsomest boy with the biggest ears and cutest face. He was silky soft and the perfect chubbiness that just made him so perfect for holding and cuddling.

His brother Brussel is still holding on but also has recently been diagnosed with cancer like Hansel was. I know he misses him a lot, and I know that when they are both gone, it will feel even worse because the chapter of their time in my life will be officially over. It seems, though, I have a hard time without rats, as I did adopt two more boys last year, named Wheat and Mouse. They never got along with Hansel and Brussel and they will definitely be my last pair for a while. I hope to continue volunteering with Rattie Ratz in the future and helping more ratties, even if I do not call them my own.

Thank you for reading about mine and Hansel’s story. Please check out Rattie Ratz rescue for information on rat care, volunteering, and adoption, as well as our previous articles on successful adoption stories!

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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