Thursday, June 25, 2020


I have rats - we don't mention how many in polite company*.

My current horde are all rescues, and all special, but none are as special as the late lamented Albert (attached), who was visited by the Grim Squeaker in Jan this year.

We adopted him at the start of 2019, after I spotted him on an advert site looking forlorn and unwell in a small glass tank. It turned out he was the last survivor of an (irresponsible) breeding colony, and had spent most of his life in the tank, sometimes with tens of other rats. Overcrowding and bad conditions left him with severe lung damage, chronic pleurisy and malnutrition, but we took him home, gave him all the best meds (dexamethasone - no rat expert is surprised to learn it is beneficial to damaged lungs!), fed him up, and snuggled him.

And boy did he snuggle. He also cleaned our faces daily (humans could not be trusted with hygiene), stole our food, and turned the sofa into a burrow.

The photo was taken over Christmas, by which time Albert was an extremely ancient 3 yr old who  spent his festive season pinning me to the sofa by sleeping adorably in creative positions. I managed to keep him happy and alive until my husband came home from seeing his family, so we could say goodbye together.

*ok, it's 16. Which isn't many, if you count fast. --Aphra Pell

Hiatus update: still no cooking gas, but the delivery dude is become my new bff.
My reading mojo is back and I am devouring things ferociously.
Thanks again to all of you providing content while I read!


nightsmusic said...

Oh! Rats! I love rats. They make wonderful, quirky, adorable pets. They're so smart and joyful and inquisitive...can you tell we've had some pet rats too? I'm truly sorry for your loss. Big or small, they wheedle their way into your heart.

Janet, did you say why you don't have gas? And congrats on the mojo being back :)

Aphra Pell said...

Awww Albert. He will always be missed.

Sadly we are down to 15 rats today as we had to say goodbye to the oldest boy (and father of our rescue litter) this afternoon. But the joy in their lives always outweighs the sadness.

Hot-tip for back-up cookery - portable single ring induction hobs. We've practically replaced our 30 yr old electric hob with ours, which is not bad for something that cost about $100.

Donnaeve said...

Ah, Albert was the cutest of rats. Never thought I'd say that.

I had lots of various rodent pets when I was a kid, but not rats. (I would have if my mother had let me) Hamsters, guinea pigs and gerbils, I loved them all.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Oh sweet Albert. So comforting to know he was loved and cared for so dearingly. (Is dearingly even a word? If it's not I'm making it one).

To be loved until the end, we should all be so lucky.

Lennon Faris said...

Albert, you have such a sweet whiskered face! Aphra, so sorry for your loss. Glad to hear the joy outweighs the sadness. I am glad you are so welcoming to little unwanted creatures! He seems like a noble little soul.

Ann Bennett said...

Aphra Pell, you are cool. I'd love to meet your rodent pack. But they don't want to meet my pack of dogs and cats.

I had a couple of mice at school and made the mistake of not assigning a child to take them home over the winter holidays. I put their cage on my fireplace hearth. The three cats took an immediate interest. One went nuts wanting to get the mice. One looked at them as fascinating ala Jack Benny. Their mother goes over and opens the lids like she had done it everyday her entire life. So the mice spent the two weeks in their own room with the door closed.

french sojourn said...

....spent his festive season pinning me to the sofa by sleeping adorably in creative positions.

mic drop!

Any creature that pulls that off adorably, deserves the luxury of having that position held. Sorry for your loss.

Joseph S. said...

I'm not sure I'd want a rat as a pet.

My mom told me my dad, when he was a soldier, carried squirrels in his shirt pockets and on his shoulder. that's as far out as I'd go.

Due to some local construction, I involuntarily shared my home with mice and rats for a year. The mice scampered. The rats stared back.

I can't tell you how disgusting it was one morning when (no, it's better I not say).

Beth Carpenter said...

He looks so comfortable. I'm delighted to learn there are crazy rat people as well as cat, chicken, and goat people. Meaning crazy about rats, not...never mind.

Craig F said...

Rats. Rats might be doable someday, my heart always needs more turmoil.

There are three problems, though

1) Kathy would scream a lot

2) There are so many more feral cats who would rather have a home and health insurance

3) That Norway Brown color. I would need some permutation of black and white. Norway Brown rats have a place in the nightmare section of my mind.

Peggy Rothschild said...

Growing up, my best friend had a black-and-white pet rat, Baby Giles. We built mazes for him and took him along on our adventures. We'd go wall-walking, introducing him to any dog- and cat-free neighbor yards. Such smart, loving animals.

Brenda said...

Albert is...Er...lovely. I have to admit that the farmer in me is a tad shocked. I’m glad you had him AP.

Katja said...

It's getting a little closer to that wedding invite... yaaasss!

*rubs hands together*

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

I'm late to the party... but I simply can not love this enough!!! Aphra Pell, thank you for giving these precious little critters a life they deserve.

Aphra Pell said...

To everyone perturbed by Albert's colouring - don't worry, it's just the wild-type agouti colour gene (which I happen to have a thing for), he was a proper fancy rat. They come it lots of other colours too (my current horde are black, black and white and splodgy, ginger and white, grey and white, beige and white, and... white).

For good and sufficient plot reasons, last night I wrote a scene in which a puppy is placed in mortal danger*. It was the hardest thing I've ever written. I spent my first novel destroying my heroine's life a variety of creative ways with no worries, but puppy endangerment...

*the puppy lives. DOGS ALWAYS LIVE. I'm sure she goes on to have a long, happy and loved life before eventually dying peacefully in her sleep while holding the longevity record for the breed. She's probably less distressed by the whole thing than I am, especially as she's a small doggy figment of my imagination. But... remind me not to plot that again.

NLiu said...

I've almost persuaded Husband pet rats are a good idea, but MIL is another matter. She backs away in horror from even the smallest and cutest of hamsters. Larger rodents might lead to fainting and/or standing on the furniture shrieking (a combination which could have unfortunate consequences). Alas!

Glad someone is looking after fancy rats in peril! I love reading about your rats on Twitter too, Aphra!