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Say Cheese! 😀

Say Cheese: Ratties Milka and Cinnamonkey smile for the camera, just little April doesn't get it. ;)

Say Cheese: Ratties Milka and Cinnamonkey smile for the camera, just little April doesn’t get it. 😉

The ratties smile for the camera, but not everyone gets it. 🙂

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Rats make great pets.

 

But people have the weirdest prejudices against them, reinforced by hype creating click-bait media.

One stereotype against rats is that they are messy.

 

I’ve lived for over 20 years with pet rats, and find them really well organised.

From diligently even at an old age going to the toilet to tackling obstacles in team work, I’ve seen it all.

 

Still, at a first glance rats can look messy to the untrained eye.

But there’s always a deeper purpose behind the action of a rat.

 

Here for example we have the rattie food bowl – note the handmade touch – which is covered in newspaper strips.

Pretty neat: The ratties covered up their food for safekeeping.

Pretty neat: The ratties covered up their food for safekeeping.

 

There’s a good reason for it: Beneath it the rattie food is protected, against dust and dirt, against flies and bugs, against unwanted preying eyes, or who knows what – it’s a rats! world.

Because there’s nothing else they can use, they tear apart newspaper, bring it up to the bowl and place it carefully over the food, to cover it all.

 

In rattie world this is a neatly done job.

 

I think it says a lot about rats, that they care enough about the state of their food that they make a point to cover it up for the day for safe- and freshkeeping.

So no, rats are not messy. They just make do with what they’ve got.

 

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These tomatoes were planted by our pet rat MJ.

These tomatoes were planted by our pet rat MJ.

 

Pet rats are ideal for small apartments. When we lived in a tiny bachelor flat, too small for a dog or a cat, we could still have pet rats.

 

Rats of course see it the other way round: Everything belongs to them and they generously share it with their humans.

 

Including whatever we tried to grow on the balcony: It would quickly succumb to become the rattie garden.

 

Plants our ratties didn’t like – or maybe liked too much – were soon uprooted, and no matter how much we tried to look out for the little oak tree, leaves would mysteriously disappear one by one until only a little stump was left.

 

But it’s not all destructive what rats do. Just look at this bountiful tomato plant.

This tomato plant grew out of nowhere and is even bearing fruit!

This tomato plant grew out of nowhere and is even bearing fruit!

 

While in my rattie tip I recommend growing a rattie garden for some fresh greens for your pet rats from their leftover seeds, it of course also gets shaped by the ratties themselves.

 

In this case our rattie MJ had nicked some tomato. Searching a place for safekeeping away from her clan, she decided the best way to hide it was by burying it in our barren balcony plant pot.

 

When to my amazement something started to grow in the rattie garden that I couldn’t identify, I suspected our ratties had something to do with it.

 

But I never thought it could turn into a whole tomato bush bearing fruit. And now our ratties have even more tomatoes they can steal! 😉

These tomatoes grew themselves - with a little help from our rats.

These tomatoes grew themselves – with a little help from our rats.

 

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Rats have ever growing teeth that need constant grinding down. They keep their teeth short by bruxing or of course gnawing. They have to, it’s what rodents do.

 

When it comes to the ability to gnaw through concrete, maybe a super power type of skill that can be respected.

When it comes to your clothes, bags, shoes, sheets, blankets, towels, you name it, not so cool.

 

Here a friendly reminder to make sure your home is ratproof:

 

This was one of those reusable shopping bags, quite handy if you want to stop using plastic bags.

Reusable shopping bag

Reusable shopping bag

 

Quite comfy too it seems, at least if you’re a rat. We kept this reusable shopping bag in a box that had an opening just big enough for pet rats to squeeze through…

Next time we wanted to use it, the handles were chewed off!

 

So I gave it to our ratties, clearly they liked it as nesting material. And this is what they’ve done with it:

There is beauty in destruction: Pet rats are master shredders!

There is beauty in destruction: Pet rats are master shredders!

 

That’s why you must always ratproof your home.

 

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Sisi and Dot: Watch Dot bruxing, she's so relaxed, it's eye boggling: https://youtu.be/DqhLh8iEVNQ

Sisi and Dot: Watch Dot bruxing, she’s so relaxed, it’s eye boggling: youtu.be/DqhLh8iEVNQ.

Rats’ teeth never stop growing, just like fingernails or hair.

That’s why pet rats do something called ‘bruxing‘ – they grind their teeth down. This can look funny, as their eyes boggle:

It’s a comforting feeling to ratties, so they do it when they are very relaxed and happy; or when they are stressed, to calm themselves down.

For newbies to the whole having rats as pets experience it can be a surprising action to witness. But not to worry, rats naturally boggle their eyes and brux their teeth.

You might find the rhythm of grinding their teeth like a soothing white noise and that it not just calms your pet rat, but you as well. 🙂

 

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Handsome rattie boy Poeksie! And yes, that's his balls bulging out from beneath his bum.

Handsome rattie boy Poeksie! And yes, that’s his balls bulging out from beneath his bum.

 

Rattie boys are much more placid than girls, but you wouldn’t think so looking at the package they carry beneath their tail: Male rats, or bucks, have proportionally huge testicles, I mean, they’re almost as big as their head!

 

That’s because of their mating behaviour: If there are many rats around, females, or does, can breed with many males. This is called polyandry and results in sperm competition: If multiple males mate with a female, it’s up to their sperm to finish the race. And a good chance that one of your guys makes it to the eggs is if you deposit a lot of them. Hence the big balls, they hold a lot of sperm.

 

There is a direct relationship between testicle size and sperm competition, so this applies to all animals with a polygynandrous mating system such as lions and dogs.

 

So there you go, rattie boys are little stud farms on their own, but having big balls does not stop them from being absolutely adorable!

 

Rats Make Great Pets 🙂

 

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My pet rat Milka shows me her behind.

My pet rat Milka shows me her behind.

This is my pet rat Milka, as she sits on our bar stool in our kitchen, looking down the edge of the seat, pondering.

I just love this shot.

#PortRATure

 

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