Friday, May 7, 2010


I got in a little heated discussion this morning on Facebook. About rats.
Some people - sheesh. So much 'opinion' is based on misinformation and ignorance!

This is the comment that kind of got me into the fray:
"The only people who would throw a rat some praise, are the ones who own one! Let's face it, these people are usually weird...or a tad offside anyway..."

For the record:

I had rats as pets for years. Love them. They're cute, affectionate (they love to be petted and are mood sensitive in the way that dogs are), friendly, playful, and lots of fun to watch get into trouble. I have had rats that loved nothing more than to snooze in my lap and cuddle. They can be easily trained to come when called and will happily do tricks for treats. Each has its own personality. They are less work than a dog, and less aloof than a cat. I don't particularly consider myself 'weird'. Try 'open-minded' or 'informed'.

Another bewildering comment:
"They are genetically altered MICE."

Um, no. Not even close. Rats (Rattus norvegicus is the domestic rat) are a completely different genus than mice (for example, Mus musculus is the house mouse - Peromyscus maniculatus is the deer mouse - both of which I have also had as pets!). They are related within the Rodentia order in the way humans are related to oh, say, the ring-tailed lemur in the Primates family. As in, not that closely. And definitely not 'genetically altered' unless you consider selective breeding a genetic modification
(fancy rat breeders breed for temperament and looks the same way dog and cat breeders do) .

One more that boggles my mind: "
rats typically live amongst garbage, sewers, trenches, etc...They've been known to launch themselves at people, and even eat people!!"

I mean, seriously? You're stating that as fact? Let's put just a little more thought into it.

Any animal - including humans - will do desperate things in desperate times. Rats, like most other animals, would much rather run than fight - but if they are cornered, sure they'll defend themselves. Same goes for cats, dogs, birds, humans, etc.

When you need food and there's no-one to feed you, a garbage bin can be a lifesaver. When you're injured, sick, or protecting your young, you defend. When there's danger in open areas and a sewer is safe, where do you hang out? :)
There's a vast difference between feral and domesticated. But any animal, any of us, can be desperate.

The pictures throughout are just some of my pet rats of the past... The white & grey one was Asha, a hooded rat, and the brown one was Marta, a 'rex' (meaning she had curly fur and whiskers) above. Asha was sweet and timid, very gentle, and shy until she knew you. Marta was the brave one - a bundle of hoppy, excited energy, who would try anything once and loved being scratched behind the ears. Here are the two girls enjoying naps in their hammock:

Lest you think they spent their lives caged, these pets actually spent a lot of time hanging out with me on the couch or running around a pet-safe room, exploring and playing. Their cage was quite large and contained a solid running wheel, hammocks, platforms, and something new to examine and discover every day - whether that was a food treat, a new box, nesting material, chew toys, etcetera.

When life is good for any of us, we're sweet-natured and fun. That goes for people and it goes for animals.

I miss my rats - Popper and Boo, Ratticus, Ruby, Marta and Asha. I hope one day I will welcome some more little furballs into my life :)
pssst, get excited.... the giveaway will be posted soon! Saturday, if I can (we are pretty busy on Saturday) or Sunday!


  1. I know nothing about rats and, while I wouldn't want a pet one, I'm not really a pet person to begin with.

    not really related: I did watch Ratatouille with my sick children this morning. It's a cute movie if anyone hasn't seen it :)

  2. I was terrified of Rats, until I started working at a vet clinic where one of the other ACA's brought their rat in to visit. I even babysat her (the rat) over Christmas while her person was away. I loved here. Still a bit leary, but that comes with a new experience. She was a lovely, clean, friendly, smart rat, and if it weren't for the fact that my husband turned out to be allergic, I'm pretty sure we'd have one right now.

  3. Rats!!!! I've always understood that they made great the pic of yours in the hammock...cute!!

  4. i wanted a pet rat terribly my freshman year in college. i had considered a hamster, but the salesman talked me into a rat because of their friendly nature. i envisioned doing homework with him perched on my shoulder. however, there was that whole matter of coming home for breaks and my mother staunchly refused to allow a rodent in her house :-( when my kids are older we're TOTALLY getting pet rats.

  5. I used to have a rat! They are SOOOOO sweet and SOOOOO smart. Lucy had a leash and we walked around the back door. She used to give me kisses ;) She was the best pet I ever ever had!


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