Thursday, April 01, 2010

Meet Sam, the Newest Member of our Household

On Tuesday, I took my daughter (and son) to the pet store to look for a replacement hamster, since her dear Hammy died the previous Wednesday, at almost 3 years old.  We played a bit with the hamsters, but couldn't decide on any, and whether we wanted one of the teddy bear ones (to me, they looked messy) or a dwarf hamster, which the store would need to order in for us.

Then before we knew it, we were each holding a baby rat, and actually quite taken by them.  I liked one which was part mostly brown, with a white diamond on his forehead, and some other white patches, and distinctly curly hair - and curly whiskers.  My daughter immediately liked a little beige one, mainly because it climbed into the crook of her arm and promptly fell asleep.

I remember a number of years ago, visiting a friend of a friend, who had 3 rats in her apartment.  They roamed freely, were litter trained, and came when she called them by name.  I was impressed by that, and by how they climbed on her shoulder or sat next to her on the sofa.  Then about a year ago, we saw a teenager with big messy hair at a Quiznos, and as she stood in the lineup ordering her sandwich, a rat peeked out from behind her hair from the hood of her hoodie.  That intrigued me.

Then a while back, I saw a TV documentary about rats, and how they communicate and learn and it was quite impressive how they are quite a bit more intelligent than mice or other small rodents.  At the pet store, the hamsters and other creatures ran around in their cages, oblivious to us.  But when I lifted the lid on a container holding some adult rats, they all looked up at me, and stared at me intently until I replaced the lid.

Then we were holding this adorable little baby, so soft and tiny, with such big feet.  Suddenly it all caming rushing together, that this could be my daughter's ideal pet.  Unlike a hamster, it can learn to be her friend, and learn to ride in her hoodie, and go places with us.  Unlike a puppy, it is very quiet. 

After bringing Sam home, I've been reading intently about care and diet and behaviour of pet rats, and I am more and more convinced that this is the ideal pet.  I've even read that since they are social animals, it is better to have 2 or more (of the same gender, since they can become pregnant as early as 5 weeks old, and bear up to 7 litters per year of 8 to 22 babies each!!).  So in my more crazy moments, I wonder if we should buy a second one while we're at it.  We'll see how it goes.

My daughter April, who is 11 years old, has started a blog about Sam.  I hope you will stop by and encourage her.


Ellen Rathbone said...

A few years ago I got two rats (Lily and Petunia) for props for a Halloween program at work. They were in the spotlight for maybe all of 20 minutes that day, but I had them in my life for a couple years. Lily passed away before the age of two, but Petunia lived on for several more months. The key to having wonderful rat pets is handling them often. I didn't get to play with my girls nearly enough, so they remained timid and antsy. Still, wonderful pets none-the-less. Enjoy Sam!

Kate said...

He's kind of cute which is saying a lot because I'm not a big fan of rodents. It's their tails that kind of creep me out. Perhaps your daughter can convince me otherwise. Heading over to visit her blog. Happy Easter!

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