As a child, I was never able to have pets; I had fish, but those hardly count. It left me wanting for a number of years, in much the same way as my lack of religion left me wishing after some sort of spiritual revelation; that’s a story best reserved for later, though. My thought process regarding pets was pretty much in line with most of the people in North America: I was either going to get a dog or a cat when I started living on my own. I was never quite sure which to pick, and now I’m glad that I won’t have to.
I won’t have to pick because last summer, I adopted rats. Initial reactions to this news usually comes in one of two varieties: the first is disgust followed shortly by offering up the prospect that they are filthy disease carriers; the second is a knowing smile and an affirmation that they indeed make great pets. I’ve found that after a small amount of exposure to my “gang”, the people in group one more often than not move to group two.
The resistance to the prospect of pet rats is unfounded, despite what some might think. Common house rats (also called “fancy rats” [more relating to the act of fancying or liking than the property of being fancy]) are no more dangerous, unsanitary, or otherwise undesirable as pets than a common dog or cat. A useful analogy I like to bring forward is that the difference between domesticated rats and wild ones is along the same lines as the difference between domesticated dogs and their wild counterparts; tell me my rats carry the plague, and I’ll tell you your dog has rabies.
Well, let’s introduce you to my rats!
This is Riley. He’s the oldest of the bunch, and is neutered. He loves to eat and sleep, and is the most laid-back of my group. He’s very affectionate when he’s half-asleep.
Torec is one of the two females I have. She’s highly adventurous, and causes me lots of problems when she escapes from the cage or my arms.
Lucca started out being very timid, but has since warmed up toward humans a lot. She’s a great shoulder rat, and for some strange reason, is the dominant one of the group, despite being the smallest. She’s Torec’s sister, and they haven’t been apart since they were born.
Glenn is a recent addition to my group. He’s a neutered male, and as far as I’m aware, is the youngest of the bunch. His previous owner abused him, so he’s very skittish about being picked up. It’s taken some time, but he’s gotten used to me and is usually pretty comfortable when I’m around, as long as he’s not being picked up, that is.
I’ve had these guys for seven months or so, and I’m looking forward to many more.
Do you have a pet others might consider strange? Let me know in the comments!