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Shannon's first rat (written Oct 1, 1997)

FamilyI rediscovered this article in October 2007. Apparently I wrote this in October 1997, soon after Shannon had acquired her first rat.

A friend of ours got my daughter a rat for last Christmas. She was about 2 1/2 years old at the time. At first I was against it, but I have to admit that the rat (which she calls "baby") has been a pretty good pet. It's intelligent, good natured (especially considering the rattling around she gives it) and very tame.

Some rat stories:

My wife and her friend decided to put the rat in a cardboard carrier and put it in the mailbox. I was to carry Shannon out to the mailbox to show her that "santa" had left her a gift. Shannon pulled out the little box and gave it a vigorous shake by her ear. You could hear the rat rattling around inside. She said "there's something in there". Fortunately, the rat lived through the experience.

Once we plumb forgot to put the rat back in the cage. My wife woke me up one morning saying "the rat is gone". We looked around upstairs in Shannon's playroom, no luck. I then remembered that I had asked Shannon to take her rat back to her room downstairs and I'd put it back in her cage. That was the part I forgot. So we snuck into Shannon's room (she was still asleep) and started poking around making little rat noises. Suddenly my wife says "there she is" and sure enough, the rat crawls out from under Shannon's blanket. It had crawled into bed with her during the night. I was told later that it's common for rats that have bonded with humans to do that.

We got the rat back in the cage and didn't say any more about it, but when Shannon woke up, first thing she said was "baby slept with me last night". Uh, oh...

Then there was the time Shannon forgot "baby" on the couch, and my wife (who had fallen alseep in front of the TV) woke to a rat licking her face...

Last night a fly got trapped in the rat's cage (an aquarium with a screen lid) and when I put "baby" back in her cage she leapt across the cage, snatched the fly right out of the air, and ate it. Most amazing thing I ever saw. Shannon was very disappointed that she had missed it, so I guess I have to catch a fly so she can witness it next time.

Anyway, as I said, I didn't think rats would be very good pets, but I have been converted. It might make a difference that we got this rat as a baby. It has bonded well with my daughter.


Ron

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