I very purposely chose to have ladies when I got rats. The one downside, for me, about pet rats is that they leave a urine trace. We can pretend it’s not there, but they do. Urine of male rats smells so much stronger than that of females that it pushed me over the edge to choose the other sex. I like letting my rats run around free, which means they leave little traces wherever they go. I would go insane if I had to clean up after male rats ALL the time. So, I chose girls. With all the consequences and behaviors they come with.
Female rats are very active. They like exploring, running around, climbing on things and discovering new things to play with. They do NOT like sitting still. They don’t like being held, cuddled, kissed and petted. They will try to squirm out of your hands and they will use their nails to do it. They are always moving. Except when they sleep. And they always sleep somewhere hidden away (unless you don’t provide this for them, which would be quite cruel). They sleep together, tucked in a box, a plastic bowl, anything that contains their heat and gives them privacy. My girls love sleeping either in the shoebox on the top floor of their cage or in one of the hammocks I put up.
But on occasion, they will make a cute little nest in the towels I put on the bottom of the cage. And every now and then, I manage to pass the cage without waking them up. Or they will wake up but be too sleepy to run around and be active. These moments I try to open the cage and pet them. I must again say, these moments are extremely rare, especially with Koko who just isn’t a very loving rat. Ruma will always lick my hands, arms and face when I hold her and she does this to strangers as well.
Today I had a very rare moment with Koko. She was lying in the towel on the bottom, I pulled out the tunnel (<- more on this later) and stuck my hand in the cage. First I stroked her over her back for a while, until she kept turning her head towards my hand. So I scratched under her chin on the sides, very gently. She started bruxing and then boggling, which is also a very rare thing for her to show me (I know she does it off and on, but usually I can only hear her). Then, on top of this already very intimate moment, she starts licking my finger. And not just a little lick, no, she goes all at it and makes sure she covers the whole finger. This is such un-Koko-like behavior, it touched me straight in my heart. Koko NEVER licks fingers unless there’s something on it she wants to eat.
Through all the hassle they give me on a daily basis, the fact that their poop can stink worse than a dog’s (HOW do they do that?) and they make a mess of the surroundings of their (giant!) cage, my kitchen and living room; these moments make me realize why I LOVE having rats. Besides the fact that they are highly trainable with the right amount of patience and treats, they aren’t quick to trust. Once they do though, you realize it was SO worth all the effort. I’ve had these ladies for 7 months now, I let them out almost every day and I haven’t been away from them for longer than 3 weeks (only once), and today was the first time Koko truly showed me some affection. My heart’s all mushy now 🙂 ❤