Saturday, November 8, 2008

The most recent additions to our household

If it were up to me, our house would resemble something from My Family and Other Animals. But I would probably be a single parent at that point - and also I must realistically admit that there are only so many hours in a day, and it's time consuming to take care of the dog and two cats that we already share the house with.

But still, the girls have been clamoring for pets of their "very own" to take care of, and I was lucky enough as a child to be allowed to take care of little critters of my very own (hamsters, mice, parakeets, gerbils) - and it was very rewarding. I also learned a bit about responsibility, and putting another's needs before my own. So (to make a long story short) we caved.

Of course, as a librarian, what was I to do but conduct a bit of research about which small animal would best suit our needs? The more I read about rats, how sociable and intelligent they are, the more intrigued I became. I don't remember rats being an option when I was little (of course, I bought all my little critters at Woolworth's, so there wasn't a great selection!), but I sure would have enjoyed them. The little girls we have are called "dumbo rats" because of their large, low-set ears. They remind me very much of the Ratatouille rats!

They are so much more affectionate than any of the little rodents I had as a child. My hamsters and gerbils put up with me, tolerated my holding them - but these rats actually run up to the cage door when they see us come into the room. When we put out our hands, up our arms they run to our shoulders, and they love hanging out there and checking everything out! We keep a box of bedding nearby, and they are pretty much litter trained, as long as we remember to allow them to access the box every so often. They're inquisitive little explorers, and the kids have been having fun setting up playgrounds for them using boxes and Legos and tubes to connect them (the strawberry house above is part of the Lego set).

I had been very concerned about the cats, but they appear only mildly interested, as they obviously have far more important things on their minds. They'll sniff noses with them (more, it appears, to humor us than for any other reason), and then they go on their way. The dog, however, seems to harbor a suspicion that they are squirrels in disguise. And she really, really wants to get them! So we have to be very careful.

They sure love all kinds of food - broccoli, beans, crackers, sunflower seeds, grapes - you name it. I keep hoping one of them might turn out to be a gourmand like Remy. And maybe one day I'll come home from work to find a wonderful meal ready and waiting....

19 comments:

  1. Oh, how cute! I love that you got rats for the kids, and look at those crazy ears. Good luck. I hope the animals continue to get along over there.

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  2. I had no idea they made such great pets! We've been checking into hamsters, but we pay have to expand our research.

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  3. I really like the colouring on the face of the little rat in the photo. Makes the rat look cute and not, you know, rat-like. ;)

    I've met a few people who have had rats as pets when they were younger, but when I was a kid everyone had hamsters (I had a DOG!) and hamsters creepy me out with how mushy they seemed and I never wanted to hold them because I was afraid I would squish all their insides OUT! Ha!

    I didn't know they were so friendly either - or - that they could be litter box trained. How cool. I hope they are well loved!

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  4. I immediately thought of Ratatouille when I saw those pictures! They are so so cute :D And how cool that they're so affectionate. I'm glad the cats haven't been giving them any trouble!

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  5. OMG how cute they are!! they are the most adorable rats I have ever seen! I always wanted a mouse,but maybe a rat is a good idea too!

    how are you coping with them being nocturnals?

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  6. I just have to say....Ewwww!! My brother has rats. Has for the past 5 years. And they still give me the willies. Pink beady eyes, and pink tails. Not really my thing.

    Of course, his latest one IS kinda cute. She's a blue dumbo rat, and doesn't have the little beady eyes. Must be why I can tolerate her!!

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  7. So cute! I want one now. I used to have hamsters until I got one insane hamster who liked to bite people every time you even put your hand near him. I eventually released him into the wild, because he was just too cruel :/ So I haven't gotten any more rodents since then. These seem like they're quite friendly though!

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  8. Aw! Those pics made me smile. My hamster Mushu was one of the best I ever had and even he wasn't that affectionate. I'd like to have another hamster or even my bird from my mom's home but my cat would like that a little too much....

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  9. How awesome! I'm glad to hear you are enjoying your new friends. Rats are really great pets to have, so many people don't realize how loving they are, and so much easier than hamsters/gerbils - I find they like to keep their space very clean.

    You've been feeding yours so many good treats, I used to give mine a giant raw carrot about once a week - they love chewing it and it helps remove any yucky stuff from their teeth!

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  10. Those guys are candidates for CuteOverload! I hope your girls enjoy their new friends. :)

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  11. You should totally share these pics on CuteOverload!
    I only ever had a dog growing up. But once, my dad brought home a field mouse and we bought a white mouse from WalMart. They were to be experiment mice for a high school psychology class he taught. It was fun having the two for a weekend. We kept them in a card board box.

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  12. Carolyn Jean - Thanks! So far, so good! :-)

    Fuzzycricket - I was surprised, too - you should definitely check into rats as an option.

    Cat - Me, too! It gives them such a whimsical expression, although I know the tail really does get to some people. I had to laugh about your squishy hamster issues! Too funny.

    Nymeth - I'll have to get a picture of the cat and rat checking each other out, nose to nose. Very cute! (But we won't try that one with the dog.) :-)

    Valentina - They love to play in the early morning, and they do tend to sleep during the middle of the day (although they are so nosy that if I come in the room they always have to come out to see what I'm up to!). They are active and alert from late afternoon through the evening, which works out great with the girls' school schedule. They like to run on their wheel at night, though, so we have to keep vegetable oil on the wheel so it doesn't squeak and wake the kids in the night!

    Stephanie - do I detect a tiny bit of dumbo-rat love? Teehee - they are very endearing with those silly little ears.

    Chris - that is sad about your little psycho hamster! I don't know if all rats are as sweet-tempered as these two little girls, but they have never bitten any of us (despite the fact that my younger daughter needs to be reminded occasionally that they are NOT stuffed animals and need to be handled with respect!) - although they do enjoy an occasional gentle nibble on a fingernail or piece of jewelry.

    Ladytink - Mushu is such an adorable name for a hamster! Little pet critters are a lot of fun, aren't they?!

    Book Zombie - that's a great idea about the whole carrot - we'll give that a try today! It's so cute how they love to grab something huge and haul it off to chew on!

    Bibliovore - Ha! I'll have to send a pic to Cute Overload, and then we'll have celebrity ratties! :-)

    Molly - I got to bring our 3rd grade white mouse home for the summer, and that was my "in" for permission to have pets of my own. Did you ever do the experiment? The girls are having fun setting up mazes and things for the rats, but usually they are outsmarted, and the ratties find an alternate route through them, haha!

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  13. I can't believe that the cats have not taken more of an interest in the mice/rats.

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  14. How adorable they are!!! I never knew they were so social. I had a hampster as a child and really didn't like it much b/c it never played with me. But THIS creature looks like lots of fun! I'll have to consider rats for future pets. :)

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  15. Serena - I can't believe it, either - it's one of the reasons we waited so long to get them! The cats killed a mouse that got inside a few years ago, so they know how to hunt - but maybe they don't see them as prey because the girls are holding and playing with them? We also don't let them run around on the floor with any of the other animals around. Usually they're on a table top or in our laps. They're quite cuddly when they're tired - they love to curl up in a sleeve and nap.

    Heather - Hamsters are awfully cute, but I'd never get another one after experiencing these fun little ratties!

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  16. Our new addition is a cat: it's a good thing we're not neighbors! Yours is very darling.

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  17. Bellezza - I am so behind on my blog reading these days, but I hope you'll have a pic of the new kitty for me to see when I come visit to catch up on yours! Aren't cats fun?

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  18. They are adorable. I keep thinking about getting two again (I have had 6 in total). My facourite was one I called Mini Me as she the runt of the litter. She used to sit just inside my jumper sleeve or on the back of my neck under my hair. OK I need a new pet rat...

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  19. Rhinoa - sounds like you need some new buddies to hang out with. They are such fun! We missed them (and our other pets) while we were gone. Luckily we had some willing friends to watch them for us. They seem glad to be back home! Mini Me sounds adorable. I love when they snuggle in my sleeve. :-)

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