Eeeee, I just want to tell the world how amazing my little men are!!!
They delight me to speechlessness every day with their friendliness, their bouncing and bounding around….
Yesterday we went to the pet shop to buy Burly Wurly and Herm some nesting tissue (which I know they will love when I give it to them in their next cage cleanout [scheduled today] ).
Going in there brought back pleasing memories for me, as it is the same petshop – and was the very same man behind the counter (As far as I know, the petshop is co-owned by two local men) who sold me my first ever rat, Mirral, about 13 years ago, who was to be a shining, silver-fawny beacon of amazingness.
They no longer sell any animals (which I believe is a good thing) and the area is now stocked with bags of dry animal foods and treats. So I stood there staring at the exact spot where my Mirral was located, visualizing in place of the current reality, seeing him in his little glass tank with the water bottle on the front on the day I went and picked him. I think he was the only rat there at the time and I recall him being about 8 – 9 weeks old.
He was one of those special ones that becomes extremely tame, confident and malleable – His first bout of life with us was spent humbly in the front room on top of a nice, low dressing table in his little cage. I never remember him being one for much exercise or youthful excitability. I was very excited to have him in my life and would spend most of my free time with him, from breakfast before school and then most afternoons and evenings when I got home.
Somewhere along the line as our connection developed, he was transported to my bedroom and became less and less in his cage and more free range in my room. At some point I devoted a shelf of my built-in cupboards to him (which were from the ground up,) but mostly he spent his days in and on my bed with me, morning and night, always with access to his cage for his food and water.
I was 9 – 10 at the time. We lived out of town, but I would travel into our alternative town of Glastonbury with my mum for her work at a quirky historic cafe & shop built inside an old Victorian water reservoir. During the summer I used to bring Mirral with me, comfortable and relaxed as ever, just hanging out in my sleeve or cradled in my arms, and stroll around the centre of town, charging people in the street something like 20 pence to cuddle him if they were interested!
He became very much a free range man and in the course of his life he travelled to quite a few places with us, and on various adventures – we only brought his cage with us as back-up in the car for those times where it was necessary or more convenient to keep him safe and enclosed.
There was the time where we took him on a camping trip to Avebury, where I have a memory of him crawling into my mum’s tent in the evening to steal a scone out of the packet we’d bought.
We brought him out on many long walks in different places, through woodlands and fields and by rivers, along with his water bottle and some food to make sure he stayed hydrated and happy. Just riding in my arms the whole time. Adorable!
I also used to take him with me occasionally in the cage when I went to stay in London with my dad, a few hours drive away. On an occasion where I left him at home, my mum told me the beautiful story of how he crept from my bedroom all the way down the hall and into her room in the night, owing to his loneliness! I find that so touching and I love how it demonstrates a rats’ general need for and enjoyment of connection and friendship.
To add to all of this, I fatefully met a friend in primary school two years older than myself, who also had and dearly loved rats, and together we were both very comfortable and confident with taking our rat friends out and about – we used to put them in cushioned backpacks with the zip open for air, and we’d take them all over the place on bike rides and magical walks. We even snuck them into a cafe – I remember sneaking them bits of food from under the table!
At one point we actually bred Mirral to one of her females, Mini-Brandy – all of this going very smoothly without any parental intervention – and out of that litter was produced the beautiful ‘Mini-Mirral’, spitting image of his father, amongst other delightful beings.
There was another occasion I vividly recall where she came to stay over my house (which as I mentioned, was out of town). She brought one of her female rats along with its new adorable litter, in an appropriately decked out plastic cat-caddy, only to discover she’d brought the wrong ‘mother’. This sweet champagne female was identical to HER mother, and the two had been mixed up in the moment, and so my friend devotedly cycled all the way back, and back again, to exchange them. They all took it in their stride.
I remember not a single moment of stress or confusion between any of us – rats or otherwise. It was a good rattie time!
~ Reflecting on my rat memories with my friend now, it makes me acknowledge that sometimes being young and supposedly blissfully unaware of potential ‘bad ideas’ actually has many merits, or at least something to learn from, as when we’re in that state of mind, we don’t sabotage our experience or our ability to handle things due to our minds being full of doubts or fears or what-if’s. We more often simply trust we can handle it and so we do, no second thought. These past experiences along with the way my friend and I behaved throughout our rat-era, serve not only as beautiful memories, but also as a nice reminder for me 🙂 ~
Kiera (aka Gremblina)