“Sometimes,’ said Pooh, ‘the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.” ~A.A. Milne
- extremely clean animals
- extremely clean
- deeply bonded to their guardian and other animals in the home
- much better pets for kids (compared to other small rodents)
- highly intelligent
- easily trained
- very social
- very curious
- very sensitive
- love human interaction
- not aggressive
- known to laugh
- deeply bonded to their guardian
Companion Rat Facts:
- Many people compare the companionship of a rat to that of a dog (myself included).
- Domesticated rats are physiologically and psychologically different from their wild relatives.
- They have been bred to be gentle and affectionate.
- Rats Will Refuse Treats to Rescue a Distressed Cage Mate!
- Domestic rats are as different from wild rats as dogs are from wolves.
- I have never known a rat to bite (although anything with a mouth can bite.)
- They are fastidious groomers; they groom themselves like a cat several times a day.
- Companion rats (“fancy rats”) were first domesticated by rat-catchers of the 19th Century. These people were paid by town governments to trap rats. They soon started breeding the wild rats to stay in business. This was how they discovered how intelligent and loyal these “pet” rats could be.
- Rats have demonstrated compassion and empathy toward other rodents in studies.
- Rats are 1 of only 2 small mammals that I recommend to families with children.
Those “rat facts” listed above are all true. I know this because I lived with a companion rat for many years. Her name was Sandy.
I met Sandy when she was just a wee rat pup while I was working at a the Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center in Baton Rouge. She and her family members had a very specific purpose. They were snake food. One day I was in the feeder rat room and I saw this sandy blonde rat pup with the softest fur and the kindest brown eyes. Well, I just couldn’t resist her, so I decided to let her hang around with me for a few days. Sandy would ride around on my shoulder while I worked. She enjoyed hiding in my hair and would peek out when she was curious as to what was happening around us. I fell in love with her and could not let her fate be decided by a snake, so Sandy came home with me.
Sandy became a very special member of my family. I introduced her to my dog Maggie, and to my cat, Mr. Beaux. Maggie was a timid dog, so she showed Sandy nothing but love (or avoidance, depending on her mood). Mr. Beaux however, had other plans. Once I was clear that Sandy was not food, the cat and rat got along splendidly. Sandy would even take car rides with Mr. Beaux and Maggie (Yes, this cat loves car rides). Sandy and I took long road trips across the country together. She was such a kind, gentle soul. I later realized that because I had taken her away from her mother just after she was weened, this enabled Sandy to bond so strongly with me. That was such a blessing. She trusted me unconditionally.
A few years later, ovarian cancer formed in her body. At the time I was not aware of how important it was to spay female rats to prevent this, so Sandy suffered for a short while until we could do surgery to remove the cancerous mass. Sandy recovered splendidly with the help of medicine and a lot of love and care.
Eventually the time came to say goodbye to Sandy as the symptoms of old age were setting in. My veterinarian was a close friend, so he helped me to say goodbye to Sandy peacefully and humanely. I knew I loved Sandy, but I had no idea how badly I would mourn her passing. I cried for weeks. I was almost shocked at how much of an impact she had made on my life in just a few years. Although it is over a decade later, I still miss her. She was such an incredible soul and animal companion. I am grateful for all of the lessons she taught me, and for the beauty and gentleness she brought into our lives.
Sandy, you are forever in my heart.
Our animal friends leave paw prints on our lives and souls, which are as unique as fingerprints in every way. ~Amy Martin, Conscious Companion