by Alyssa Nader
Alyssa Nader 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.
I became a rat mom last year when I adopted my first two rats, Bitey and Pablo. I remember bringing them home from Vacaville, stopping at a BBQ place on the way and feeding them little bites of everything through the holes in their tiny carrier. When we got home I made them a little house out of an Amazon box inside their cage.
Times with Bitey and Pablo were terrific. They were best friends and never separated, cuddling in their hammocks or Amazon-box house. Once they were used to their cage, I allowed them to free-range for most of the day, and learned more about their personalities. Pablo was like a little dog, following me around the house. I called him a bed bug since he loved to stay inside my bed with me. He loved to get into my mouth and clean my teeth, was always gentle, and never scratched. He was my soul rat.
Bitey was a rat’s rat. He loved being around his brother and preferred to hide under the bed (and get into the box spring!) rather than spending too much time with humans. He always made us laugh by getting himself into trouble by not being all that smart, like the time he tried to climb out of his cage by stepping onto a palm frond.
A few days after his first birthday, Pablo wasn’t acting like his usual self. A dog had been visiting my house, so I thought that maybe he was stressed. He continued to act lethargic, so I took him to the vet first thing the next morning. The news was the worst we could’ve imagined: Pablo had lymphoma. We were given the choice of putting him to sleep right then, or to try a steroid, which would give him perhaps a few weeks more of life. We tried the steroid, and had a wonderful last week with Pablo, including many trips to the park and an end-of-life party with lots of friends. We had Pablo euthanized peacefully in our house by a vet friend, and had a beautiful funeral.
We made sure that Bitey knew that his brother was gone, by letting him visit after Pablo passed. We also brought Bitey to the funeral, where he (for some comic relief) fell into the grave as we were grieving. I was absolutely heartbroken over Pablo, and also seeing how lonely and bored Bitey was without his brother around. I felt that I had to get him a rattie friend, even if I was still hurting.
I reached out to the volunteers at Rattie Ratz and learned about two boys who were ready for forever homes. They didn’t yet have names and were called Hayward Boy 6 & 7. They came to the organization after someone emailed Rattie Ratz asking for help; her rats were breeding out of control. Rattie Ratz took in adults, juveniles, and a couple of litters, totaling close to 40 rats. Hayward Boy 6 & 7 were two of the final three, separated from their brother, who bullied them.
I brought them home and managed to settle on two names with my sister: Disco and Biscuit. I admit that they look exactly alike, and are almost impossible to tell apart. Many pictures I have of them are titled, “Either Disco or Biscuit.”
They met Bitey, and we quickly learned that this would not be an easy process. While great with people, Bitey and my newly-adopted rats wanted to kill each other. I was heartbroken and wished things could just be simple, as they were with Pablo.Disco and Biscuit were so sweet to me, despite their difficult start in life, and their new-found home full of rat battles and drama. They would climb on me and hang out in my lap, and I felt comforted by them being around. I kept trying, gradually introducing them to Bitey. Things are better now and they are able to hang out with Bitey—supervised. I think I will soon be able to trust them alone. Disco and Biscuit love each other, and me, and Bitey is happy to have rat company when he wants it. I also bring Bitey to my office most every day, where he is very popular and enjoys all the snacks and sleeping in laps, so his life as a lone rat really isn’t so bad.
Rattie Ratz is an all-volunteer organization whose mission is to help all domesticated ratties who come to us find a loving, forever home.
Rattie Ratz: Rescue, Resource, & Referral
Click here to email us at: info@rattieratz[dot]com
Call us at: (415) 340-1896
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.