Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Sam and the Terrible Twos?

I knew it would be interesting when we chose a baby rat as a pet one week ago, but I didn't realize how interesting, or challenging.  Sam has overnight gone from being a sleepy little baby, content to sleep on our hand for hours (or lick our hand, as in the photo below), to being lightning fast and exhibiting the stubbornness and independence of a two-year old.

It happened on the weekend.  I think it was Sunday that I opened her cage to let her crawl out onto my hand, and as I reached behind her to assist her, she turned on my finger.  She didn't bite, but I could feel it was teeth, not her little pink nose, which touched me.  Then she didn't want to stay in my hands, so I let her out in the empty livingroom, and placed lots of boxes and crumpled papers and balls and such around for her to explore.  I touched her every so often, just so she wouldn't forget me, and think she was running completely free.  But when I went to catch her to return her to her cage, she turned on my hand again.  Again no biting, but she was not going willingly.

When I brought her to her cage, she jumped in, and then promptly jumped back out again.  I placed her back in, but she was climbing all over the walls, so I tied a string with ends which hung down almost to the floor of the cage.  She attacked it with enthusiasm, pulling and climbing it.

Yesterday, she was again restless, despite a number of excursions out of the cage, and her usual toilet rolls and other objects in her cage to play with.  (Her favourite object is a little dome-shaped sleeping box which I created from an old file folder, which she has plugged up with paper towelling.  When she's not running about, she disappears into it, and probably sleeps there.)  So I threaded a number of Cheerios onto a string, and hung it hammock-like from the top of the cage, so that it is reachable from the ground.  I see today that she has been chewing off the Cheerios, only 1/3 of them remain.

Today she did some more exploring and running in the living room, and I made sure I caught her several times to let her know I was still there.  Finally, I gave her my pullover sweater, which she crawled in for probably an hour, next to me while I worked / surfed on the computer.  When she came near the opening of a sleeve or neck, I pulled back the sweater and said "Hi Sam", to which she would dart back inside.  When it came time to pull her out, it was a small challenge to find her in there, and catch her again.

Wow, I didn't know it would be so interesting.  She seems too young to be "trained" to come when called, or to know to return to her cage (it is still on a stand, so not even a possibility), but seems too old to be content with small paper rolls and other toys, and the confines of her hamster cage.  This is an interesting stage.  I hope it doesn't last long.


tina said...

It is an interesting stage to me too. I have only ever seen a few pet rats and they seemed tame to me. I hope you are right it is just a stage and he'll be more compliant with you as he gets older. I would think so. He is cute and I can imagine his antics most fun to watch. Have a great day and I hope the weather is beautiful in your neck of the woods.

Bren said...

so cute..... I share bunnies on my site sometimes. Animals do love the garden as much as we do!

Shady Gardener said...

Well... this is a pet that doesn't seem to interest me... at all. That's saying something, because I've had MANY different animals over the years in my classroom (usually 6 or so at a time!)

Sorry... ;-)

Andrea said...

Hey, Lily, Maybe it's time to change the "he" to "she" on your blog posts about Sam... since we now know Sam is really Samantha! lol

Garden Lily said...

Andrea - You're right. I've updated it, and it reads much better now that we know she's a girl.

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