While my brother was visiting he met Mellicent. He wasn’t quite sure about her to begin with, but he admitted that he was going to miss her by the time he left. I pointed out to him that it was funny that he of all people should have reservations about a pet rat, seeing as he owned one when we were younger, but then he responded by saying that Melli was definitely more curious and adventurous than pet rat Whiskers of our childhood. I put that down to fond remembrances and didn’t think anything of it until I ran into a fact sheet on a website the other day. Turns out that female rats ARE more prone to scramble around and investigate, while male rats are often content to have their ears scratched and enjoy your company.
Part of Melli’s charm is that she climbs up the side of the cage and stares pointedly at you whenever you so much as move. She anticipates you. She waits with bright, dewy eyes for you to come over and play and let her out of the cage. And she will scrabble along the side of the cage like a little monkey if you walk by, keeping pace with your movements and gnawing the cage bars. Once she’s free though, she’s not about to snuggle up. She wants to investigate! Adventure! Explore! It’s cute, frantic, and a little dizzying for the observer. So to end with, a couple of facts culled from the online FAQ:
Rats can eat chocolate. They can also eat smaller pets. They are omnivores and have been known to eat birds, fish and even smaller rodents.
While it’s great to have both male and female rats, they should not be allowed to play together. Rats can complete the courting ritual and the whole romantic relationship in about 2 seconds.
Rats usually bathe themselves six times a day or more.
Rats have bellybuttons, but no tonsils or gallbladders.
Rats can be trained to do simple tricks.
Rats can train humans to do simple tricks.