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Rattie Ratz Rescue: A Big Heart in a Small Package

IN THE December 12 ISSUE

FROM THE 2020 Articles,
andAnimal Rescue Adventures,
andRodent Ramblings
SECTIONS

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.

As a volunteer with Rattie Ratz Rescue I have come across my fair share of unique- looking rats: Russian blue, dumbo blaze, double rex albino, hairless, mink possum and even a tail-less rat! I had certainly heard of and even seen dwarf rats a few times in the past but had never had a chance to really interact with them.

A few years ago, one of my fellow volunteers happened to know a woman who had a small dwarf rat breeding program. The young woman left for school and while she was gone her mother put the male buck in with all of the females. The mother didn’t want the rats and the breeder could no longer keep them, so she reached out to the rescue for help. The rescue stepped in and took all four of the adults knowing that there was a chance some of the females would probably be pregnant. As luck would have it, ALL of the females ended up being pregnant so for a brief five-week period in October of 2018, there were a lot of little dwarf babies running around.

The majority of the babies were adopted by fellow volunteers and a couple found good homes with experienced rat owners. I couldn’t pass up on the opportunity and brought home four baby girls. Two of the girls have luxurious chocolate coats and I named them Violet and Jasmine. The other two girls have a striking “toasted” coloring (also known as Siamese), named Lily and Poppy. They were brought home just in time for the holidays!

The Littles at 6 months

Dwarfs may be smaller than the average rat. They can easily sit in the palm of my hand and are probably about half the size of an adult standard rat, but they certainly are not lacking in personality. Each of my four girls has their own distinct temperament, from the social butterfly and queen of kisses – aka Violet – to the dignified leader, Lily, the quiet idler, Poppy and the self-appointed culinary connoisseur, Jasmine.

Nine times out of ten if I walk past the cage Violet is the first one to be waiting at the door to say hello, and if its treat time, watch out for your fingers because little Jasmine is a grab first ask questions later kind of lady! This quartet is affectionately known as the Littles, the Dumplings and the Baby Birds, because they will rest in the hood of your sweatshirt and their little faces will occasionally peek out, just like baby birds in a nest.

Sharing a scarf with Violet, Christmas 2019

They are all incredibly sweet, but ridiculously spoiled. When it comes to their fresh produce, they will not touch anything that resembles green foliage. No spinach or butter lettuce for these gals – they’ll turn their noses up- quite literally – and walk away, to slowly watch the vibrant and crisp green leaves wither to a sad heap. They know that their human mom- myself – will come and clean up for them. They far prefer their carrots, corn, steamed sweet potato and anything fruit! These little fluff balls definitely have a sweet tooth.

The Golden Seniors

While they may have a sweet tooth, I cannot be blamed for their rotund physique. They would love to get snacks every day, but I put these girls on a strict diet. Sadly, their charming rolls are genetic. Their father was one of the most obese rats I have ever seen, and as I keep in touch with a few other volunteers who adopted from this group, I know that all of their Dwarfies are roly-polies as well. So, while they may look at me with glistening eyes begging for just one more treat, I force myself to turn away, and they are left to waddle back to their hammock with only one mouthful of oats.

Office buddies

Because of Covid 19, I’ve been working from home for the past nine months and while I enjoy the peacefulness, it can be lonely when the only companion in my makeshift office is a dying plant. My little Dumplings have lightened the atmosphere, for which I am incredibly grateful. If only my supervisors and business partners knew how many conference calls had a little rattie listening in!

The girls recently turned two years old and while this isn’t their first Christmas with me, this year is bitter-sweet because there is a chance that this may be their last Christmas before they cross the Rainbow Bridge. While I watch the girls slowing down and continually alter their cage to make it easier on their tired limbs, I have learned to take each moment as it comes and appreciate every day that I have left with them.

I am thankful that they will have one more season of watching me struggle to put up the lights and garlands, then request a snack once their supervision is no longer required. They will get to enjoy the cozy smell of freshly baked goods in the kitchen and listen to quiet holiday melodies on the radio. Every time I walk past their cage and think about what Santa will bring them this year, I can’t help but smile as I give them a gentle nose poke.

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.

Stephanie Cameron works and lives in the Bay Area, and has been active in the rat rescue community for a number of years. She got her first pair of rats – sisters named Snowflake and Diamond – when she was eight years old. In her spare time she enjoys reading, walking her dogs, traveling, discovering fantastic vegan recipes, and singing in the shower.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Kathy Tsai December 14, 2020 at 11:11am

Great ratties in tiny packages. Thanks for the story.

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