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.
For those of us who understand the truly special bond that exists between us and our pet rats, the experience of owning and loving rats only gets stronger with time. Someone who can attest to this is Sue, an adopter of Rattie Ratz Rescue and longtime rat mom. Before we dive into Sue’s recent adoption story, we’ll share a little history on how Sue’s love of rats began: “About 27 years ago, I worked at an elementary school where there was a rat named Radi in one classroom. I quickly fell in love with her and the kids would always bring her to my room. She wasn’t always treated well, and one day the teacher whose room she was in handed her to me and said, ‘Take her.’ So began my love of rats. Since then, I have had 65 rats, including the ones still living. I often take the problem child, single rat, older rat, shy one and all are rescues. I have loved them all. My rat area which started out on a counter has grown to 9 feet which includes all kinds of goodies, including a classic Barbie pool that I bid for on e-Bay.”
As amazing as owning rats can be, the experience is oftentimes bittersweet due to their short life spans. The average life of a rat is only 2-3 years. And because rats are such a social animal, they require being in a group of 2 or more, which means you’ll most likely be losing more than one rat within a short period of time. Most rat owners will attest that the experience only makes their love of rats stronger, because they understand how precious every moment with them is.
Sue had recently lost 3 of her older rats between September 2017 and February 2018, and the loss was heartbreaking. Sue was still mourning the loss of her girls when her friend Chris (a former Rattie Ratz volunteer) suggested she adopt two eight-month old, Dumbo girls currently in the rescue’s foster program, who were sweet but shy and needed someone with the patience to help them come out of their shell and show them how wonderful being a rat can be. Sue’s remaining three rats Matilda, Bernie and Louis were all over two years old and she was a little apprehensive about bringing home some younger girls. “Matilda had come from the San Francisco shelter after being abandoned in a park as a youngster. Bernie was abandoned by his owner at 5 months old and his brother had died at the shelter in Novato before I adopted him. Louis also came from the San Francisco shelter with a friend who was not in good health and died about 5 months later. Louis was extremely skittish and not adjusting very well.”
Sue decided to inquire about the two Dumbo girls, Kaylee and River, where she was told that while they were still available, they had just been joined by a feisty one-year old female named Valentina. Sue thought about it for a while and decided “What the heck!” and brought all three girls home. Sue describes how the resident rats didn’t seem too bothered. “Sometimes it has taken days, weeks, even months to combine a group of rats, but in the end, they all become a FAMILY. It took less than a week to get them all together in the main rat area, but then there was Valentina to deal with. She huffed and puffed and acted like she wanted to be in charge, even of me! A few times in the “Time Out” area and she started getting better. Kaylee (now Sylvie) and River (now Violet) got over their shyness and are just wonderful girls. So is Valentina! They just needed a family and a little time. As Bernie grew old, the girls cuddled him and groomed him and when he passed away last week, they were by his side. I am very happy that they joined our family. Louis is, too. He has been much more social since they came.”
Sue currently has a four-rat mischief in her home, and although some of her troupe may be slowing down in their old age, they still know how to have fun and enjoy life to the fullest. This isn’t hard to do when you have your own private indoor pool and a patio deck where you can enjoy the fresh air ruffling through your glossy fur and cozy sunshine warming your ears and tail! “The ratties enjoy lots of activities besides just hanging out in their rat area. They come out for playtime at least twice a day, get to go with Mom to play in the bathroom, and hang out on the couch to watch movies. They like to travel in their “Rat Bus,” which is a laundry basket with a soft towel in it. Matilda chewed out matching doors on either side, so they don’t have to climb up. That’s how they all get from place to place together. They love to play in their outdoor playpen and have even gone to the beach in it. When they see the travel cage come out, they try to get in it right away, because that means they are probably going to work at the veterinary office with Mom! They have even gone on vacation!”
Rattie Ratz may have rescued Valentina, Sylvie and Violet, but Sue showered them in unconditional love and allowed them to grow and become the best rats they could be. Thank you, Sue!
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.