Why I allowed my son to get a rat.
I hear so many people say to me, “You must be a great mom. I would never allow my child to buy a rat!” I just laugh. I must admit. When he first asked, I was very hesitant. “Are you serious?!!!” I have to give it to my son as I discovered he did not take the purchase lightly. He was on the computer doing research several hours a day. “Mom, did you know….?” “Mom, according to XYZ website, I should do this.” Through the internet he learned that rats need to live with other rats and if you buy two males who were litter mates, they will usually get along as they grow older. He also learned the size needed per rat and that they liked shredded paper better than shavings. And, so after all the research, he made a trip to the pet store and came home with these two guys. Meet Bear and Bentley.
At first I would just stand nearby, taking pictures, of course, but, after awhile I worked up the courage to touch them. Their fur felt coarse, but I was not sure what to expect. Tyler would often leave them run around the kitchen table (“You WILL be washing that down with disinfectant!”), the sofa or his bed. I was surprised they did not try to jump but my son assured me that rats do not like to with out of sight of their home.
Each rat seemed to establish their own personality, just like children. Bentley was the more curious, affectionate one while Bear loved food and would do almost anything for it.
And, of course they piqued the curiosity of the dog and the cat….. especially the cat! LOL.
In fact, when he got a little too close, Bear quickly put him in his place. After that he was afraid of Bear but actually seemed to like Bentley’s companionship. It was the old “Lion shall lie down with the lamb” thing.
They soon grew on me and it would get to the point where I would walk in the room and announce, “Grandma’s here!” and they would both come running. Why? Well, everyone knows grandma has goodies for her grandchildren. I even got to the point where I could hold them, including drying them off after my son would bathe them.
Unfortunately this spring, Bear developed a respiratory infection and died in June. When we removed Bear’s body,
Bentley went and laid in Bear’s spot. We were worried about Bentley going into depression and dying as well, so Tyler was off to the internet for more research. Within a day or two, Bentley had two new neighbors who would eventually become his litter-mates.
Chester was the most curious and quicker to exit his cage when left out.
Cyrus was more shy. It took a lot of coaxing to get him out. He was very skittish.
Tyler introduced them all and they loved Bentley, especially Cyrus. He would follow Bentley all over, often imitating whatever Bentley did. Tyler was happy to see a significant positive change in Bentley. He seemed much happier to not be alone again.
I am still working on the “Grandma’s here” with Cyrus and Chester, but they are coming around. Still, the role of “Mother Of The Year” may not apply yet. Even though I allowed rats, I draw the line at snakes.