Friday, August 1, 2008

Oh, Rats!!

My daughter Caroline has 3 pet rats. They are all females - Luca, Maia, and Shadow. We brought them to school a couple of times last year to visit, and most students enjoyed seeing them, holding them, and getting to know them. A few students did NOT enjoy the experience, but tolerated "the girls" within reason when they were there. We've enjoyed them as pets at home - they have definite personalities and are VERY smart. They've learned to respond to their names and can do a few "tricks" like stand, come when called, move to your shoulder, etc.

So many students enjoyed the rats last year that I decided to get some as classroom pets. After doing some research online, we decided to get male rats for the classroom - they're supposed to be more "laid back" than the females (ours are pretty hyper a lot of the time!). We've found that 3 is a good number to have - there's less fighting for supremacy because they're able to establish a definite "pecking order." We wanted to start with young rats in order to train them somewhat to be used to being handled and being around people before school started, so we bought them last week. Our 3 boys are Marco (the explorer), Beckett (very busy), and Sam (the shy one).

As I sit here typing this, "the boys" are eating, drinking, and playing around in the cage. They're getting more used to being together and being around us. We're hoping to litter-box train them (it worked pretty well with the girls) so they don't leave their droppings everywhere, especially when we let them out (supervised, of course). They sometimes fight, but it's usually play-fighting - they're not trying to hurt each other but are scuffling and wrestling.

I hope you enjoy getting to know "our boys" this year. At first, you'll probably think they all look alike, but it's pretty easy to tell them apart. Although it's a little hard to tell from the pictures below, they all have distinctive color patterns and distinctive personalities. Here's Marco:

This is Beckett, hiding in the playhouse:

Sam, the shy boy, is hiding under the hammock: