Advice for Rats, from Rats


Welcome to the Rat's Guide to Responsible Human Ownership

It has come to our attention that many rats out there don't care properly for their humans; indeed, some humans are woefully neglected and badly trained, resulting in severe frustration for the rat possessing them. We intend, through the sharing of precious information we have gathered and through the use of links to other responsible rat pages, to explore some of the common mistakes made by rats owning humans, and to offer advice and encouragement for the neo-human owning rat.

We are a body of some 12 or so rats (the number fluctuates according to the susceptibility of our human) who have spent our lives deeply engrossed in the study of rat/human relationships.

Below: Here we all are, playing on mom's footstool. And she thinks that footstool is going to stay clean? Hah!

All of our observations are pertinent to our particular human, a female of some 42 years. DISCLAIMER: We cannot take responsibility for individual variations in humans.

Below: This is our mom. She was in the Oakland Tribune, thanks to us. Funny thing...she received many calls from concerned relatives after this story ran.

The human being is a curious sort, not usually given to attractive behavior around rats (they also have only two legs and no tail...can you imagine that?). Thus, your first important mission is to be cute, adorable and completely irresistible. This will ensure your removal from the pet store or breeder cage and the trip to your new home in a comfy cardboard box. BEFORE you allow yourself to be pulled from the bin, pick out your best friend in the cage with you and cling tightly to him/her.

Your human must know that rats are most happy kept in twos (or more). The tighter your grip, the more likely your prospective human will take you both. It helps to instruct your friend to bat his/her eyes and look forlorn and unwanted.

This is only the beginning of your mission: you must now teach the human how to care for you in the manner to which you are accustomed. This has taken us many years and many generations to accomplish.

Your human must understand at once that you demand spacious new quarters. Being stuffed into a 10-gallon aquarium is NOT ACCEPTABLE if there are two of you. It's really quite questionable even if there is only one of you. If this happens to you, sit in one corner and look miserable. Sulk. Do not approach your human as this will only encourage it. Look morose. Don't eat. Chew your water bottle to shreds. Piddle conspicuously in your bed. Refuse all manner of tempting treats. As a last resort, lay motionless on your back and feebly twitch your toes. Ignore your human completely, even if they stare at you with their large eyes. If you feel capable, stick your tongue out. Don't forget to exude porphorin all over your nose, eyes and shoulders. (This is harmless red pigmentation generated by the mucus membranes of the nose and eyes, but sometimes points to illness.) This will cause your human great concern. These measures may seem harsh but you must establish dominance immediately or life will be hard.

After some consideration, your human will consult with other knowledgable humans. In particular, we recommend the BARMCA rat list, a place where confused humans meet to discuss their rats.

It will discover that it has been doing everything wrong. The next day, you will see a nice large cage arrive and you will be moved into a lovely new abode, complete with climbing aparati, such as wooden ladders, rope, and dowels. We highly recommend Fern cages...they are spacious and very easy to clean. Check them out at http://www.ferncage.com/. Your new abode will probably have at least two levels. Be sure to use both levels; this pleases your human to no end. Demand that you be given cardboard to chew, tissues to shred, wooden blocks to chew, a hammock to recline in, and various toys to amuse yourself. There should be no exposed wire that you stand on...standing on wire can cause a hideous problem called "bumblefoot". Again, you may have to go on strike to get exactly what you want.

Proper food is another matter entirely. Some humans think they can just dump in the leftovers and be done with you. No, no, no. First of all, a diet too high in protein (above 22%) can cause unsightly blemishes to appear on your skin. Do not let your human become a slovenly feeder. You should be eating a nice grain mixture or a high-quality lab block such as Harlan Teklad. And make sure your human knows that you demand fresh veggies and fruit from time to time. You may have your own food preferences, such as pizza, beer, coffee, and couches; make sure you inform your human about these individual preferences. Personally, we prefer a nice mixture of peas, carrots, corn, brocolli, tofu, spinach, pears, bananas, apples, grapes, and the occassional carpet fibers. If you play your cards right, your human will actually let you eat off the same plate during meal time. We like galloping across the floor with our human's asparagus, and just the other night managed to make off with a particularly large and succulent scallop.

One social note: just remember where you put your fresh food or it will get rather smelly and that can be quite embarrassing.

The correct way to handle your human is as follows: