The rats…they live among us now…

I fear we’ve entered into a whole weird area, our family has… As you may or may not know, I’m not exactly an animal person. It’s not that I don’t like YOUR pet, I just have never had a pet. I’m not quite sure what to do with them, or around them, and about them. That’s something I dealt with a long time ago. The kids, on the other hand, seem to have grown into a deep longing for some sort of furry creature that needs to be running around our house. They have all been working to wear down my resistance for a dog, but I’ve stood firm in my belief that a new puppy for the kids equals a dog for me. Pessimistic? Perhaps. But for now, I’m just not ready to take on another responsibility. But I will say I am wearing down. When I see how much Andrew loves dogs, I am almost willing to entertain the thought. Almost.

While this has been an open–and often revisited–conversation in this house, it was about a month or so ago that Todd took the youngest four kids to the pet store just on a lark. They wanted to go visit the puppies, but learned to their chagrin that those furry little treasures are only on the premises on the weekends. Sadly, this was not that day. To console themselves, they looked around the store and found pet rats. For Brendan and Ben, they were instantly smitten and began an obsession that culminated two days ago. After talking nonstop with Todd on the trip home from the pet shop, he apparently made a deal with them. If they researched as much as they could about having rats for pets, and learned whatever necessary to make us (read: Todd, at this point, anyway!) comfortable about giving them the responsibility of having a live creature to take care of, they could buy them.

This began a firestorm of almost constant reading, writing, and YouTube watching of all things pet rat. They did an impressive job of compiling their information and learning about how to take care of these impending house guests. Despite the fact that I was not excited about having rodents enter my house by our own doing, I had to admit that the boys were taking it seriously, at least in the research phase.

Shortly after Brendan’s birthday, they had the money necessary to order the Rat Cage Hotel, a huge get up that is certain to bring joy to any rodent and deter him or her from even the thought of escape. (It better! I’ve already warned them that an escaped rat is fair game for my shovel, whether it has a name or not!) The boys learned that female rats are usually more active, cleaner, and don’t mark their territory like their male counterparts. As long as we didn’t bring home a female who was carrying hidden rats on her person (if you know what I’m saying), I was ambivalent as to what gender they got. A rat is a rat is a rat. (As my good friend Dave reminded me yesterday: “Don’t you EVER forget that, Deb.”)

The (dreaded? Surely you didn’t hear that from me!) day finally arrived and the excited soon-to-be-rat-owners happily ran out with Todd to the pet store to purchase their new pets. They had already settled on names for their girls, despite my suggestions of Anthrax and Rodenticide: their more feminine name choices were Ginger and Alice. (Who knows what makes boys choose what they do?!) It was not long before the boys came home, chatting noisily and carrying the two new “members” of the household in their handy dandy cases. There was much rejoicing within the home and every rallied around to see what new adventures would begin with the opening of the traveling cages.

This is the third day Ginger and Alice have been with us, and so far they haven’t escaped, which I see as a definite plus. The baby rats are only about 8 weeks old, so the pet store clerk advised the boys to give them a couple days to adjust to the new surroundings. They told us that rats are quite sensitive to loud noises, which makes no sense in this house. They’ll simply have to get over that! If it’s one thing this house is not, it’s quiet. Obliging in the waiting period, today was the day they got the rats out and let them run in their makeshift play pen. Their next goal is to help Ginger and Alice relax and become comfortable around the two boys, and then they’ll start training them. They have plans to teach them all sorts of tricks and I’m sure that will be something to watch. Since Brendan and Ben tend to do everything but use the bathroom together, it should be interesting to watch them teach their new pets. Already the little dears with creepy tails are showing that they have different personalities: Ginger (Brendan’s pet) is less intimidated by the noise of the house and has been out and about whereas Alice (Ben’s) is more timid and will quickly grab a piece of food and retreat to the shelter of the cardboard hiding place at the bottom of the cage. I’m interested to see how they change, if ever, as they acclimate to our home.

The boys are more than excited to have these new critters here, and for now, I’m OK with having them in the house. They are more than aware that I will not be taking over any cleaning or feeding duties under any circumstances, and the warning still stands: if they ever get out, they’re fair game.

Doesn’t that put me in the running for Mother of the Year?

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. John Fennell
    Jul 06, 2013 @ 10:07:06

    Does this make us grandparents of the 2 cute little things?????  I guess if we could keep a garter snake in the house, these furry little bundles would fit in too!!!!! How are the new pet owners doing????  Loved your story about the newest household members!!!! Janice Fennell


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