Two weeks ago, on October 26th, hubby and I drove up to Zoo Creatures pet store in Plaistow, NH to get some baby rats:
We like that pet store because it’s family run and operated, and they hand-raise all their animals. When we got out of the car a bunch of fat chickens skedaddled out of our way, and when we stepped on the pad to open the sliding doors to the store, we noticed another chicken inside the doors, trapped in the entryway between the store’s outer sliding doors and inner sliding doors. We shimmied around her and stepped on the pad to open the inner doors, and she squawked loudly and raced past us into the store. We asked the girl at the desk and she was like “oh yeah, that’s the dumb one, she can never find the roost outside so she prefers to hang out inside the store, but usually gets herself trapped in the entryway”. And sure enough, as soon as someone left the store, she squawked and raced out with them, and was once again trapped between the 2 sets of doors. LOL!!! Chickens are funny…
Our previous 2 rat girls, Clover & Holly, passed away last April. It took me a long time to get over Clover’s passing. She was the sweetest, most loving rat I’ve ever had. But I finally felt ready to move on. Hubby was under the impression we were getting 2 baby rats. I’d sort of talked him into 3 by the time we reached the store. But once we saw the amazing variety and cuteness of the babies they had, I convinced him we needed 4. As the salesgirl boxed up the 4 we’d picked, I snuck a 5th one into the box when he wasn’t looking [which made the sales girl giggle]. The one I snuck in was Nibbler – she looks so much like Clover I couldn’t leave her behind! So we came home with 5 🙂 Hubby is OK with it now, but I think he might still be a little shell shocked… Love you, hubby!
Here’s our girls right when we got home – still in the box from the pet store:
They are currently housed in 2 hampster cages connected by tubes – they’re still too small for the big adult cage. Birdie finds the rats quite fascinating:
I’m not sure she’s ever seen such a thing. Our boys are used to having rodents around, so they haven’t paid much attention.
For the first few days I put the cages up in the bedroom so I could keep an eye on them at night. I went a little crazy with the tubes and created a Coney Island-esque theme park:
But they were very loud [rats are nocturnal] so they’re back downstairs in the living room. And we’ve removed most of the tubes. They were spending 24/7 in them, which made it impossible to pick them up. It’s critical to pick up baby rats every day so they get used to being handled. Otherwise they can end up being biters. Been there, done that… adult rats bite HARD! *shudder*
So, without further ado, here’s the new babies! You’ll notice a Hawaiian theme to the names:
ALOHA – she’s a “rex” rat, which means she’ll have curly hair and whiskers, and has a buff colored hood [“hooded” rats are primarily white but have darker patterns on their head and necks]. She also has red eyes, which means vision won’t be her strong point:
CLARABELL – she’s a “dumbo” rat, which means her ears are lower down on the sides of her head, instead of on top. She’s growing faster than her sisters and I’m not sure what to make of that [and yes, she is definitely a girl]! Either she’s going to be a giant adult, or she’s just having a growth spurt… My friend Martha named her. She’s such a beautiful silver color. I love her fat little belly after gorging herself on corn [which came from my co-worker Stefanie’s garden!]:
Look how much she’s grown in just 16 days – holy moly!!! The others are about 2/3 her size:
KONA – she’s also a “dumbo” rat, with ears on the sides of her head instead of on top. Look at that little face:
LAVA – she’s our 3rd “dumbo” rat, and is almost black with a white tummy. She’s also the shyest:
NIBBLER – I named her that b/c she’s always nibbling my fingers – it’s very cute! She has a dark grey hood and is the smallest of the 5:
They sure love their running wheel – I can’t wait until they’re big enough for the adult cage – it’s got 2 exercise wheels – they’re going to go out of their minds!
I love this picture – it shows how busy they are – Aloha in the wheel, Nibbler heading right, and Lava heading left – it’s a medley of tails:
To answer a few questions I’ve been asked a lot: They’re most likely not from the same litter. Also, we decided ahead of time to get girls. I’ve had rats for over a decade – they only live 1-3 years, so over the past 13 years I’ve been a rat mom to 30 rats, including our 5 new girls. I usually get 4-5 at a time because they’re very social animals and do well in a group. I got 2 last time so I wouldn’t overwhelm Jim, who’d never had rats before. I’ve had both girls and boys. Boys tend to be sweeter, more laid back, and will sit on your lap for hours. Girls are much busier, and more aloof. However, boys are greasy, and have a slight ratty odor to them. Also, they tend to drag their nuts over everything – the couch, your hand, your lap, the floor, etc. – and leave a snail-trail of urine to mark their territory. Gross. Girls don’t do that, which is why I’ve tended to get girls more often!
Also, I learned with my first batch of 4 rats to NEVER get a mix of boys and girls. Even if you separate them – they’ll find a way to get busy. My first 2 females both got pregnant, despite being 2 rooms and a tall table away from the boys. They gave birth on the same day to 18 babies – EACH. That was a wake up call! Thankfully the pet store where I got them took the babies [that store went out of business during the recession, unfortunately].
I am allergic to everything with fur, but only mildly allergic to rats, which is why I first got them as pets. Now I can’t imagine my life without them! They’re super smart and very funny. They each have their own personalities, and they all learn their names within a few months.