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.
Not only do domestic rats come in all shapes and sizes, they also come in all sorts of temperaments. From the lovable “snugglers” who don’t want you out of their sight to the Mr. Grouchy Pants who want to be left alone to their own devices. Anna was lucky enough to adopt a rat on the Mr. Grouchy Pants end of the spectrum. Anna renamed her grouchy boy Strider and has been on an adventure of rattie proportions ever since!
Anna describes Strider as “a funny little fellow.” The two of them have had a “roller-coaster relationship” since his adoption back in August of 2016. Anna was going through a difficult period in her life when Strider came along. After Strider entered her life, Anna not only learned more about rats, but she learned more about herself as well.
Anna calls Strider her “grouchy rat.” He was adopted as a single from Rattie Ratz Rescue because he didn’t get along with other rats. Even after being neutered he would constantly pick on his cage mates. Because rats live in large colonies in the wild, they are by nature very social animals – it’s one of the qualities that make them such wonderful pets. However, most rats are extremely social and thrive on same-species interaction just as much as they do human interaction, but there are always exceptions and Strider is one. Once he was separated from the other rats he mellowed out and became much more content. Because Strider showed the Rattie Ratz volunteers how much he preferred his own company to that of other rats, he was allowed to be adopted as a single.
Anna is not surprised by the rescue’s description of Strider. According to Anna, “His social programming is a little lopsided. He doesn’t particularly like to be held or touched, he’d almost always rather be in his cage than anywhere else, and he can get very grumpy with me. He’ll push me away with his paws and ‘slam the door’ of his hideaway on me like a petulant teenager (really just pulling fabric over the entrance so I can’t see him!). I’ll give him this, though ? Strider has never, ever, not once bitten me. Instead, he’s a “licker.” The more annoyed he gets, the more insistent his licking gets: lick, lick, lick lick lick licklick licklickLICKLICKLICK!!”
After living together for a year, Anna and Strider have discovered they are surprisingly similar. “We both get a lot of anxiety over new, unexpected situations and display our fear as annoyance or grumpiness. We both live alone and like our homes to be a certain way, we’re night owls, we have weak respiratory systems and we both love anything with garlic and olive oil in it. If a vegetable doesn’t have some sort of condiment on it, it’s probably not worth our time!”
Anna is a patient and loving rat mom who has learned to be forgiving of Strider and his many “petulant teenager” moments. It’s obvious that Strider knows what he wants – and doesn’t want – and isn’t afraid to show Anna that he means business. The relationship between Anna and Strider is constantly growing and changing. Anna remarks that: “I don’t think Strider will ever love me as much as I love him, but that’s okay. I’ve scared him a few times and had to regain his trust, and I learned some valuable lessons in the process. Even if he never turns into a “cuddler,” I’m grateful to have him as my companion. We can always sit on the couch watching YouTube videos and sharing a burrito, hang out in the bathroom and let a steamy bath relax our lungs, or stand out on the balcony sniffing the afternoon breeze together.”
It’s obvious that Anna and Strider have developed a special bond that goes beyond the physical or closed rattie doors. Anna concludes, “As I say to him sometimes with mock surprise, there’s a vermin in my apartment! And that’s just how I like it. I think he’d still rather I got the heck out of HIS apartment, though!” Strider brings a level of entertainment and companionship to Anna’s life. He may be a grouchy rat, but Strider is HER grouchy rat and that makes all the difference.
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. Advertise in KRL and 10% of your advertising fees can go to Rattie Ratz.
Love the story of the “grouchy rat” and am glad he got a good home.
Thank you for your story. I think it shows a great deal of emotional intelligence to understand the needs of another animal. I had a rat who I suspect was probably mishandled by a human and developed a great deal of mistrust. She didn’t mind taking a chip from me but it was clear that the relationship was on a must have contact only basis. It wasn’t until she saw me taking care of an ill rat friend of hers that she started to trust me. Even then it was just a tolerance. I like to think that when we meet on the other side, (she’s since passed) we will have a good laugh about it.