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Friday night

We now have an ex-hamster. :( Elder daughter is all right, she's sad of course, but she knows they don't live a long time and she's had him for quite a while. She doesn't want another hamster--maybe mice, or maybe those miniature hamsters (hard to imagine a smaller hamster...)--which is understandable. He was a decent hamster. I guess we'll be having a hamster funeral sometime this weekend, which will be much easier since the ground hasn't frozen yet. (Wouldn't have enjoyed storing him for a spring burial...)

Right now she's making popcorn for them to eat while watching a Pink Panther movie. We watched Arsenic and Old Lace first, which I enjoyed but which 5-year-olds can apparently take or leave. Earlier I made banana pudding, but it's not chilled enough yet, so popcorn it is. I've made chocolate banana pudding before, but never the traditional one. (And actually, since I skipped the meringue, this one isn't exactly traditional either. )

Because, you know, domesticity appears at random moments. :)


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 23rd, 2004 04:17 am (UTC)
I'm sorry for the loss of your hamster.

Rats make wonderful, WONDERFUL pets. They do require more work than hamsters since they're smarter and more social.

I'm not a fan of mice- they're hyper.

Gerbils bite.

Contact me if you want more rat info. I was in the "Rat and Mouse" community for a while when I was a kid.
Oct. 23rd, 2004 04:34 am (UTC)
Hm, that's a thought. Would they be something a reasonably responsible 10-year-old would be able to care for?
Oct. 23rd, 2004 04:53 am (UTC)
The major issue with rats fall under two categories:

* Care

* Socialization

For care, rats are larger than hamsters or mice. They're about 8 inches long. The cage should be ~36 inches square and tall. If possible, it should have multiple levels.

Most cages are crap, so my father made them out of 1/2 inch screen wire.

They require larger equipment (a larger bottle, a larger cage, and a larger wheel).

And of course you need to clean the cage regularly and so on (same as with a hamster).

A good pet store should have most of this. PetSmart had rat water bottles and rat wheels, and some good cages.

Now, socialization is very important to rats. This contrasts with hamsters. Hamsters are really independant animals. They live most of thier lives alone.

Rats, on the other hand, live in colonies. On thier own, they have a social structure. Males compete for power, and females share responsibility over child rearing (males will also do this, but the females tend to be better at it).

We (my family) had a single rat, and we doted her with attention all the time. She was a loved member of the family and we spent hours every day with her.

But really, the right thing to do is to get two rats at the same time (from the same litter if possible) and raise them together. That way they keep each other company. And a multi-leveled cage will make it easier for them to have time apart when they get sick of each other. ;)

So you're probably asking: This seems like a lot of work... Why is it worth while?

Rats are wonderful pets. They're like little dogs. They loved to be taken out, played with, cuddled and pet. I've had rats that were so well trained I could keep them on my shoulder and even went to sleep with them near by and they stayed next to me.

Rats will form relationships with people, and will play with them and or lick them. And they're very sweet. Rats don't bite.

There are good resources online about rats, as well as rat books. I DO recommend you find a breeder if possible. Bred rats tend to be smarter, healthier and hand trained (hand training when young is important).

The reason that my family, and especially I don't have rats:

Rats are nocturnal, and my studio would make this hard for me. In addition, rats are very affectionate and loving friends, and when they die (average life span is about 2-4 years), it was a lot...

I think that was the worst part about the rats, the short life span.
Oct. 23rd, 2004 04:57 am (UTC)
Two pics of me and some of my rats at http://www.tux.org/~serge/rats
Oct. 23rd, 2004 04:07 pm (UTC)
The nocturnal thing might be an issue--the hamster was at his most active at about 3 in the morning :).
Oct. 23rd, 2004 05:29 pm (UTC)
Rats are more like college students. They're supposed to be awake at night, but sometimes they hang out during the day, and take a lot of naps.

Rats are also pretty good about being woken up. No one really likes being woken up, but they're generally happy to see people and be taken out.

The reason I mentioned the nocturnal thing was we kept the rats in another room than the bedrooms, and one day I fell asleep there and woke up to hear all the wheels turning as the rats were all (most) collectively excercising.

I've heard contrasting answers about things like plastic balls. Some people say that rats hate them (too constricting and will freak them out) and other people say they move the independance (though remember, rats don't have great eyesight).

You can teach rats tricks.

Oh, and if you get them early enough, you can get them to like the water. They can all swim, sort of, more like a paniced dog-paddle, but if you train them as puppies with a little warm water, apparently they'll grow up loving it.

They also love tunnels.

Oh and they eat just about anything (don't feed them chocolate or too many sweets though, they will get fat if they don't excercise it off).

I may have given you the impression we had a single rat. No, all in all, over a period of seven years, we had something like 16 rats, though not all at once (usually it was about 6 at a time).
Lemme see if I can remember all thier names:

[I don't remember the second daugher of Itsy and Bitsy]
Cream Puff

That's 4 males, and 12 females.

We had a preference for females.

Males tend to be bigger and calmer. Females tend to be more high strung, but more interactive. Of course these trends are less than the differences between individuals. They were equally as affectionate, though when males relax, then tend to mark territory, and since people are the size of mountains, we're territory, so that was also off-putting to people. The females don't do that. Of course accidents happen, though all our rats signaled when they had to go, and would always prefer to go in thier cages than outside Often I could bring them to the open cage, they'd run in, do thier buisness and come back out when they were finished, wanting to play again.

If you have questions, here's what I'd do...

Find a pet store around you that sells rats, if you can, find one that says "Not Snake Food" (that was a stipulation we made to the pet store when we sold part of the one litter we had).

Play with them for a while. Get young ones if you can. Always scoop the rats, never grab by the tail, and play with them. If you can find a breeder, even better...

I can give you rat stories for hours.
Nov. 5th, 2004 12:00 am (UTC)
Ooh, love the stuff about rats in the comments here!

Long ago, in grad school, I took over the care of Oscar and Inky from my then-boyfriend. Sadly, I developed a massive allergy and the rat colony had to go back to him a year later. They were wonderful pets, always happy to see me and eager to watch me and to be played with. They were easy to look after and Oscar was brighter than many undergrads (he was a birth-control accident from an MIT stress test, so maybe I should not be surprised.)

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )


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