Sunday, October 2, 2011

Wordies

There is a web site that makes artistic renderings of your blog: http://www.wordle.net/create


Here's mine:


Wordle: Happy Rat Blog
Awesome. And blurry. Click on it to see it bigger and clearer. 



Thursday, September 1, 2011

But I Have Cooler Slippers.

I met a woman the other day who is a fellow blogger. We exchanged blogger addresses.

According to her blog, she spends her spare time in third world countries building homes for poor and disabled people, when she's not recycling and saving the environment.

Yeah? I WROTE A BLOG ABOUT MONKEYS.

And, I have cool slippers:

I bet she doesn't wear cool slippers like these when she's helping lepers.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Where's My Monkey?

This blog post is about the fact that I STILL do not have a monkey. I know many of you came here to read about rats, but sometimes you have branch out a little. Roll with me here, people.

I was thinking about monkeys today, as I'm sure you do often, too, and I started to feel a little resentful.

There were two things I KNEW as child that were going to be true when I grew up: I was going to marry Bobby Sherman and I was going to have a monkey. I sort of gave up on the Bobby Sherman thing when David Cassidy came along, but I always figured I'd have monkey. Here I am careening towards middle age (shut up) and I still don't have a monkey.

Now to understand this (actually you probably will never understand it), it wasn't SO far fetched to have a monkey when I was a kid. You could actually go to the pet store and buy one. When my mother would grocery shop, she would send me over to the pet store next door to entertain myself. (And no kids, this doesn't harken back to the simpler, older days when children could roam at will and be safe. Our parents knew all about child abductions and stranger danger, they just didn't care. They had more kids back in those days, and they were tired.) Anyway, I would go over to the pet shop and the man there would let me feed the monkey treats through the bars. It never occurred to me that this was something special. I thought when you grew up, got a house, married Bobby Sherman, you got a monkey if you wanted one. I couldn't wait.

Also, monkeys at the zoo where not as separated from the public as they are now. There was none of this, Lets build a fake jungle and put it behind glass so the monkey doesn't know it's in a zoo. THEY KNOW, PEOPLE. Monkeys were in cages, like respectable zoo animals. They had tires to swing on if they were lucky. I remember one zoo were the monkey had a can on a pulley and you could put peanuts in it and he would reel it in. THAT'S entertainment.

Once, when my older sister went to Fitzgeralds' Fabric Store in Weymouth, she took me and left me to play on the swings outside. (Sisters didn't care about stranger danger in those days, either.) The Fitzgeralds had a little house out back. The little girl of the family came out and played with me awhile, then asked me if I wanted to go in her house. I, too, knew all about stranger danger, but, well...she asked me. So I went in, and the house was FULL of exotic animals. I don't remember too much, but I think there were birds and lizards, and great googly moogly, a CHIMPANZEE sitting on their sofa. I kid you not. It was sitting there like a member of the family. This all made sense to me. They were a normal family who had a monkey, like you were supposed to. ( I know now that chimps are apes, but I was 6 or something, give me a break.)  The reason that my family, and for that matter no one I knew, had monkeys was because they were weird. Normal families had monkeys, obviously. When I finally met up with my sister again (I don't think she noticed I was gone.) I don't think I even mentioned the chimpanzee to her. In my little mind, it was nothing special. Of course they had a monkey, that's what you do.


I think I know what might have started this particular neurosis:




My sister gave me this a few days after my third birthday, when I was going into the hospital. She bought it at Liggett's Drug Store, where she worked. I remember her giving it to me. If I closed my eyes right now, I couldn't tell you what I am wearing, but I remember getting this toy almost 50 years ago.
It was my favorite toy. His name was Jojo. I would dress him up in little dresses and use boxes to create rooms for him, complete with beds, rugs, little suitcases, the whole nine yards. I even cut a picture of a monkey out of a magazine, made a little frame for it, wrote "mother" on it and put it on his little dresser that I made out of a shoe box. I figured even monkeys would like a nice picture of family in the room.

He was the perfect monkey. He could hold his banana in his mouth:
My Monkey's a Genius
He wore white sneakers, like a respectable monkey would. Even though I loved monkeys, I found their feet unsavory. I mean, they look like an extra pair of hands, and that is just wrong. My cousin had a stuffed monkey with hand-feet and I hated it.



So it was all set. I would grow up, marry Bobby Sherman, get a monkey, dress him in little white dresses and sneakers  (the monkey, not Bobby Sherman.) and I would live happily ever after. But that never happened. My dream remains unfulfilled.

P.S. I just looked it up, and apparently it's ILLEGAL to own a non-human primate in Massachusetts. Darn. You can have all the human primates you can produce, but who would want one of those?





Sunday, July 17, 2011

It's a Boy!

There is a new rat in my house...

Introducing:  Darwin!

I'm not quite sure how this happened. I was chatting on Facebook with one of the ladies from the Mainely Rat Rescue, and next thing I know I was agreeing to get a new rat. They are good...not only do they do wonderful work rescuing and taking care of rats, but I think they can hypnotize you into taking more!

Anyway, I was very nervous about adding a new rat to the two I already have, after the disaster with Mr. Rat. I was so afraid that they wouldn't get along and I'd end up with two cages and one lonely rat again.

I drove to Maine to get him, and the minute I saw him I was smitten. He's a PEW. That stands for Pink Eyed White, the first I've ever had. He is probably the sweetest rat I've ever met. He's definitely a "people rat". You can't walk by the cage without him coming to the front looking for attention. He isn't skittish within the least and warms to new people right away.

Anyway, I put him in a cage next to the one with Edison and Tesla in it the first night I had him home. All three looked and sniffed each other through the bars, with no signs of aggression. Whew! First hurdle over. In fact, when I got up the next day all three were in the same place, still sniffing each other. I wonder if they were there all night?!

Then came time for the introductions. I was petrified, but I tried to act casual so my fear wouldn't be catchy. I'm sure they could hear my heart beating from across the room!

I doused each a little vanilla on their butts to cover their smells. (You could have made a lot of money off of me by betting that I would ever have cause to write that sentence.) Then I put a little vanilla pudding on them, so they might lick the pudding instead of fighting with each other.

I put a towel and some treats down in the bathtub, added rats, held my breath and.........nothing. They just looked at each other for about a minute. A little bit of an anti-climax.  Then Edison and Tesla moved in on Darwin as he stood very still. They gave him a sniff over, then went about their business, eating treats, licking pudding and doing all kinds of fun rat things.

Within a few seconds, all three were playing together, bruxing and boggling, grooming each other and being best friends. I let them stay there for awhile, then moved them to the big cage. The friendliness continued, and with the exception of one little squabble around the food dish, they have been friendly since.  

Here they all are, snuggled in one of their little houses:


It's a love match!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The New Boys are Here!

The world's cutest rats are now in residence at my condo.

Behold:



See, I kid you not.
That's Edison on the left and Tesla on the right. They're just about five months old.
They came from www.mainelyratrescue.org, a wonderful organization run by some really dedicated people. My boys were two of 15 babies and two adult females crammed into a dirty 10 gallon aquarium. Poor little things! They have the good life now, though. (And I never cease to remind them of it!)

I was hoping to be able to introduce Calhoun to them, I think he might have enjoyed having new buddies around, but by the time the new boys came to live me, Calhoun was too sick. He did get to sniff them through the bars of the cage, and he seemed to perk up a little when he saw them. 

I totally forgot how much energy young rats have. Great googley-moogley, they hardly ever seem to take a break. I assume they must sleep sometime, but I have no evidence of it.

Edison, hangin' out in his castle. 


They have very distinctive personalities. Edison is all fun and games. He's friendly, outgoing and real food-hound. When I shake the treat container, he comes running. Actually, it seems like I just THINK about shaking the treat container, he comes running. He can't take a chance on missing one! He's bold and seems to like to explore, but not with the same single-minded drive that Calhoun seemed to have, thank goodness. It's a lot less stress not to have rats who always seem out-smart you!

Tesla, running for cover into his hidey-house.

Tesla on the other hand is VERY timid. I don't think I've ever seen an animal more afraid of EVERYTHING. He's even way more skittish than Adams,  and I thought Adams was a scaredy-rat!
Getting him used to me has been a long, slow process. He's at the point where he will come to me for a treat (or at least most of the way, sometimes I'll meet him half way) but as soon as he gets it he's off like a shot to hide and eat it.

When they have their out of the cage time, Edison climbs all over me, nuzzles me, lets me tickle him. It takes about 15 or 20 minutes before Tesla will come over to me, and I still have to move VERY SLOWLY, because any sudden movement or noise panics him. But everyday he seems to be getting a little more used to me, and I'm sure we'll be buddies in no time. He'll let me hold him, but noises will make him twitch and tremble. I feel so bad for the poor little guy.

Despite their bad start in life, neither has shown the slightest aggression towards me. They are just as sweet as can be.

They live in a Critter Nation Double cage, which if you take proportion into account is actually bigger to them than my condo is to me. They have a wheel, hammocks, tubes, houses, toys, and all kinds of fun things. They actually take nice care of their things. I haven't had to replace much yet. I went through about 20 hammocks with the other boys, but Edison and Tesla don't seem to chew them. Even their toys are in good shape, and they do play with them. One exception is that they had a little Flintstone car, and Wilma seems to be missing her head. Oh well. 

It's become my goal to find a food that these two won't eat. Adams, Calhoun and Mr. Rat had a few things they wouldn't touch...any kind of berries, asparagus, dog treats. These two guys inhale everything I put in the cage, even the rat food! Until now, I thought rats eating rat food was just a myth, never thought it actually happened! I can't shovel the food into the cage fast enough for these two. So far peas, bananas, and tofu seem to be their favorites.

I'm going attempt to try to teach Edison some tricks...we'll see how that goes! I'll keep you posted.




Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sad News


Calhoun, AKA "Yogurt Nose"

                                                   

If I keep writing such sad blog posts my blog may need to be renamed "SadRatBlog".

I had to put my poor little Calhoun to sleep recently. It was one of the most gut-wrenching decisions I've ever had to make.

Those folks with pets know that as much as you love all your pets, once in awhile that special one comes along...that one that stands out from all the rest. He or she may not be the brightest or the prettiest or the best behaved, but there was something about them that endeared them to you more than all the others. For me it was Calhoun.

Calhoun was a rat who marched to his own drummer. He thumbed (rats don't actually have thumbs, but go with me on this metaphor) his little nose at convention and polite behavior. He did what he wanted to do, when he wanted to do it and there was very little argument.

For example, rats need to have time out of their cages every night or they can get bored. I bought a big corral for Adams and him to play in. Adams loved it. He would play with his toys and eat his snacks and have a grand old time.

Not Calhoun. He wanted OUT. And out he got. Over and over again. I tried putting him back in every time he jumped out and telling him firmly "no". He laughed.

I put a sheet over the corral and held it down with big paper clips. Within a day he figured out exactly how to jump so he would be between the paper clips and could wiggle his way out.

He quickly learned the concept of my back being turned and would take full advantage to make for parts unknown.

I finally gave in and let them have free-range of the condo for about an hour a day. No biggie for Adams. He would sniff around, then mostly go and sit beside the couch. He occasionally follow me into the kitchen for a snack, but he never ventured far or got into trouble.

Then there was Calhoun. Open the fridge door? There's Calhoun trying to jump in.
Pleeeeze let me in!

                                                  
Want a snack? Calhoun would pester you and pester you and then sometime help himself anyway if you were not forth coming.
This bag was zipped shut. He didn't chew a hole in it. HE OPENED THE ZIPPER.
                                    


You had cereal and Calhoun wanted cereal? Calhoun took cereal!
                            

I learned to be careful with any recycling or trash. If Calhoun was out, I always double checked the bag before anything went down the shoot. With lightening speed, he could jump in the trash barrel, chew his way into a trash bag or hide in something that was about to leave the house.  I once almost sent him off in a bag of craft supplies I giving away.

I had to pull up the floor of my vanity because he got under there and wouldn't come out. I no longer have a cabinet to hold my stereo equipment because he managed to get behind it and I had to take the whole thing apart to get him out. I nearly had to take my heat pump apart because he managed (when he was sick and practically at death's door) to get inside it. I banged on the outside of it, and his little head poked out a hole on side. I've lived in this condo for 13 years and never even knew there was a hole there.

He would bully and beat up poor Adams, steal his treats, not let him near the food dish. Adams still followed him around like a little lost puppy. I think he was smitten by the Calhoun charisma, too.

Then one day, Calhoun started acting old. He slowed down, stopped eating as much and generally seemed run down. It came on too fast just be attributed to just getting old, so I took him to the vet. The diagnosis was pituitary tumor.

Little by little, he changed into a different rat. He would sit on my lap for hours at a time, where before he would get antsy after just a few minutes.  He wasn't that interested in food. He would only eat peas for days at a time.  He wouldn't go far if I let him out of his cage. He would try to run on top of his PVC pipe, but he couldn't get up on it anymore. I tried to do a little "reasonable accommodation" and I put his pipe against the wall and would hold him from the other side, but he couldn't keep his balance and would get frustrated. He could still walk the length of pipe on the inside and would do that everyday, but less and less and slower and slower.

He started walking in circles and seemed confused at times. He would spend long stretches pacing in his cage and staring into corners. One morning I put him in front of his pipe and he stared at it for a few minutes, then turned his head away and just laid down. I knew that he had given up. I decided that the time had come for me to help end his suffering, so I made an appointment at The New England Wildlife Center, where his vet, Dr. Mertz "The Odd Pet Vet" has a practice.

Dr. Mertz was wonderful. He let me take everything a my own pace so I could wait until I was ready. He let me put Calhoun's entire travel cage along with his familiar bedding and snacks into a chamber that  would release a gas that would put Calhoun into a deep sleep before he would be euthanized. He just closed his eyes and went to sleep. Dr. Mertz let me chose to stay or leave the room when it was time to put him down. I chose to stay. Dr. Mertz gave him two little shots and he was gone. He didn't seem to feel a thing.

I brought him home and Art and I buried him in the Rodent Graveyard near Adams and Mr. Rat.

We came back inside and talked about how he would be missed and what a great rat he was. Then we laughed because all the stories we could think of were of him being a little pain in the butt!

But he really was a unique little animal and I will miss him.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Rip Adams









  • It's a sign.




Adams when he was a baby. 





It's with heavy heart that I write of the death of my poor little Adams.
He was a lovable, if somewhat goofy little guy.
He was afraid of everything. He loved peas, chocolate chips, bananas,
getting his head scratched and his brother Calhoun, even if Calhoun
bullied him all the time, especially around the food dish.
He suffered his whole life with terrible respiratory infections, but had



seemed to make some real progress in the last month or so, which

made his death all that more shocking. I'm still not exactly sure what
happened. He was little under the weather for less than a day, I left
him sleeping in the hammock and gave him a few peas to eat.
He had just been at the vets a few days before that, because I noticed



his fur was starting to thin. It was Calhoun's health that I was worried
about, because he seemed seriously sick. Now Calhoun is making a 
comeback, and poor little Adams is gone, buried in the rodent grave

yard next to Mr. Rat. They never could get along in life, maybe
they can in death.
I'll miss the sweet little thing.