Sunday, January 4, 2015

New Kits On The Block*

*in Europe, baby rats are called kittens, so for the purpose of this post we'll pretend I'm in Europe

It had been over four months since the passing of dear little Fred, and I started thinking about getting another pet.  Then I had allergy tests done, which pretty much confirmed what I already knew - I'm allergic to cats, dogs, rats, and apparently horses (also trees, grass, weeds, etc., but that stuff is outside).  My allergist suggested a bearded dragon or a hedgehog as possible hypoallergenic pets, neither of which appealed to me.  I don't mind reptiles, but I don't want to live with one, and hedgehogs are nocturnal and not very smart.    I really wanted another rat, so I looked at a couple of breeders' websites and checked on Kijiji (which is like Craigslist) for listings of baby rats for sale.  I  contacted a few people, and when all of them proved to be either very strange and/or terrible communicators, I ended up back at PetSmart again.  This time, however I was armed with questions and experience, and fortunately, there was a lovely young woman working there who had pet rats, and was very friendly and knowledgeable. 

And now these two little girls live with me; the brown and white one is Ginger, and the white one is Ruby.  Neither of them were freaked out when I held them at the store, and they have adjusted very well to their life in Fred's former home (which had been cleaned and sterilized).  And they are adorable.....

They were so small when I brought them home two weeks ago.  The store clerk said they were the youngest rats they had ever had in the store (most likely about 8 weeks old).  

I knew rats are very social, and should not live alone, and if I could go back and do it over, I would have got Fred a sister.   At the time I didn't know if I would like having one rat, much less two, and while I gave her the best life that I could, she was lonely.   There was no question that the next time there would be two.  The difference is amazing (and makes me even more sad for Fred) - the two of them sleep together (sometimes stacked, like blocks, or nose to tail, or whatever is going on in the bottom right photo) and chase each other around the cage like kittens.

 "What are you looking at??"

There is also a whole lot of rat wrestling going on, and Ruby has turned out to be quite a scrapper. 

Ginger is similar to Fred in her colouring (this photo looks eerily like one I have of Fred), although she is a darker brown.   She's a little piglet, who will climb over/step on anything (usually Ruby) between her and a treat.

Ruby is very pretty, and her fur is as soft as a cotton ball.  I've never been drawn to white rats because most have red eyes, which I find rather demonic, but she has black eyes, which is very unusual.  She is proving to be a quick learner as well, and braver than her sister.

And what about my allergies?  Well, within 24 hours of bringing them home, I was coughing and wheezing, and to be honest, the first few days were horrible.  A week after I brought them home, they started making the same chirping and huffing noises that Fred made when she started to get sick, so back to the store they went, where they were checked over by the vet (they were still under warranty) and pronounced fit as little fiddles.  A change to a more expensive, 99% dust free, bedding seemed to  do the trick;  I wish my allergies could be cured so quickly.   I've been experimenting with taking an antihistamine and using my ventolin puffer at different times of the day to find which works best, and it has been getting better.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed, as I already am attached to the little girls and they are bonding with me.  Wish me luck!


  1. I do wish you luck and a long companionship with your two new girls. They really are darling. How great that they love each other. My cats are sweeties but do not seek each other out, except for an occasional neck-bite. xox

  2. Oh, they are lovely! I had many rodents (hamsters, guinea pigs) as a kid, and rats are just as charming. Good luck with your allergies, Shelley!

  3. They are adorable and i hope your allergies get better and you can keep those little beauties.
    Happy New Year again Shelley, I wish you good things for 2015
    I have to purge my closet as well, i read the other post, not an easy job, lots of heartbreaking decisions


  4. So cute! I adore pet rats, especially when they're babies still. Hope your allergies adjust. My son is also allergic but has a dog and a cat and manages to tolerate them both ok as long as they stay out of his bedroom.

  5. Good luck with the allergies. I went through hell when my cat allergies got worse in my 20s and I was using an inhaler.

  6. Oh, these kittens are definitely adorable. So sweet. I hope you find a way to keep your allergies in check!

  7. Ruby and Ginger are so sweet! At a biker pub I used to frequent in my youth a cool punk guy used to carry his rat around on his shoulder and we'd feed her pork scratchings. They are such intelligent creatures and get such a bad press.
    I like how they love each other, our cats are always scrapping. xxx

  8. So cute! Welcome to Ginger and Ruby, they look completely at home and are very sweet. I do hope you find an antihistamine regime to keep your allergy under control, it can't be pleasant to be wheezy and coughing, despite the cause of it being so gorgeous... xxx

  9. They're so cute! They seem to be having a lot of fun in their new home.

  10. ohhh, I'm so happy for all three of you gals. Now if you could all breathe properly, everything will be swell. So cute, awww.

  11. I never thought I'd say this...but those rats look adorable! Ha : )

    I empathize for you with your allergies. Mine have gotten progressively worse this year. I currently take a daily Reactine, then either a Tylenol sinus or a Benadryl at night. I also have a puffer but try not to use it. I need to go back to see the Dr. about more nasal sprays. Have you tried those? I found they could be quite helpful and don't seem to have as many side effects.


    1. Thanks Suzanne - I've been taking the daily Reactine, which helps, and then using my puffer at night before I go to bed, which makes it tolerable. I'm not crazy about using the puffer too much, so I will ask my Dr. about the nasal spray as you suggested.

  12. Ginger and Ruby are quite the pair and it appears as though they are enjoying their new home. Hoping that your allergies calm down and that your "new kits" provide you with much pleasure. Looks like they already do!

  13. Oh my gosh those pictures made me chuckle! Thanks for sharing and good luck. I bet your body will adjust in time.