Sunday, February 13, 2011

Kids and Rats

Four years ago, my older daughter (we'll call her Heckle), wanted a dog. At the time, I had two kids under the age of five and was pregnant with a third. I didn't want a dog. We got a rat instead.

Rats make great pets. They are smart, they are quiet, and they are brave. That last trait is particularly important for any creature sharing house space with small children. That first rat was a hairless dumbo named Bongie (named by Heckle from a song she heard on Dora, not the habits of my college theatre professors). She was sweet, if ugly. She lived about two years. It took Jeckle, our middle child, a year or so to notice that the cage was empty.

Two years later, we bought two baby rats (female). Because there are no social taboos in rat society (or at least in the pet store aquarium where they are raised with their siblings),the original two were followed in a few short weeks by ten more. They looked just like marzipan pigs. Actually, there were fourteen, but three were stillborn and a fourth went missing. I try not to think too hard about that one. We found homes for most of them, but still have the original females and two males, who were separated the instant I knew which was which.

The males are the friendliest. Maybe it's because they've been handled since they were about an hour old. They fight with each other nearly as much as my human kids do.As I type this, I have a black and white rat hanging out on my forearm. It's pretty cool.

Buy a rat. You'll be happy if you do. Just make sure you buy males.


  1. They do make great pets. I had a friend who had one when I was about 13. I don't think I could convince Al they are really cool, but then Al's best pal is a 4-yr-old who beats him up all the time. He isn't really bright.