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The Naughty Nimbus Narratives

Nimbus was our alpha rat and he was without doubt the most fun and comical trouble a rat can be.  He was the type of buck who would charm you with his stunning looks and suaveness, while secretly peeing in your lap...  or stealing something from your dinner plate, or chewing the button off your shirt, or draping his dirty tail in your soup, etc.

Here, for your reading pleasure, are some of the more notable exploits of this truly amazing rat.

Nimbus has now left us (see a tribute to Nimbus on his photo page) but his charm and beastliness will live on forever in these narratives.


The Young Nimbus

One minute in the life of Nimbus...

<Nimbus> Hi Mum!  What are you doing? Can I help? What's that smell?  May I have a treat?  Where did I come from?  Why is the cage on this table?  Can I run around on the floor?  Where's Uncle Dap?  Do you think he'd let me work the foam mine with him?  Can I have a chicken bone to gnaw?  Why isn't Dad here too?  Does he love me?  When's Aunty Andrea coming to visit me again?  Why won't Stat! wake up and play with me? Am I cute?  What's that in your hands?  Is it for me?  Can I climb on your shoulder?  Who was that you were talking to on the phone?  When's dinner?  Why does Statty groom my belly all the time?  When will I be big like Uncle Dap?  How do I open the cage latches?  Are you going to make me a new hammock?  Where are the yogurt drops kept?  When can I play in front of the camera again?  Am I a sweet rat?  What's that loud noisy box over there?  Are you going to let me out?  Who was FudgeRat?  Why do I have to poop in the litter tray?  Can I have an ear scritch?  What's that noise?  Why do other rats like peas? What colour am I? Why don't I have a white belly like Statty?  Is it OK if I climb up here?  Can I pee in your lap?  Is it free range time yet?  May I have a noodle?  Why does Uncle Dap sit on me when I'm in the hammock?  What's that over there?  How does the cage get all clean some days?  Can I groom your eyebrows?  Do you love Statty more than me?  Where do you go during the day?  Why don't we get avocado and ham all the time? Can I play with Uncle Dap?
Where are the...  Why is it... Who... How come... Can I....

<sigh>  Whoever said curiosity killed the CAT, got it wrong...

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Nimbus The Meanie

Nimbus is still taking his alpha position very seriously when it comes to the new ratlets (Bramble and Ramekin).  Sometimes he's no trouble, but other times he turns into a rat puff and sidles and huffs at them.  Mostly he's just show and has never inflicted an injury, although the screaming at each other is awful sometimes.
The ratlets seem unfazed by this and often follow him around, but I still don't trust him completely to let the ratlets share his living area unless I'm around to break up any altercations.

When I can't supervise, the ratlets live downstairs and Nimbus, Statty and Dapper live upstairs, separated by the trap door.  If the whim takes him, Nimbus gets all frantic and tries to dig his way down to the ratlets area.  He pulls up the velcroed down fabric on the shelf, pees into the cracks at the edge of the trapdoor, and huffs and puffs and struts and stomps around in alpha madness because he can't get at them.
When he's like this, we like to boom in a giant voice:

"Fe Fi Fo Fum
 I smell the scent of a ratlet bum
 Be he agouti or be he black
 I'll groom his hide until he's slack!"

The ratlets themselves sit just under the trapdoor in their favourite hammock, taunting him with their scent and chattering teasingly.   <sigh>  I hope they're all going to get on OK with each other soon.

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Breakfast with rats

I was having my breakfast on the rat room floor this morning and, as usual, I was sharing it with my boys.  We were having large chunks of watermelon and mango, topped with a dollop of vanilla yogurt.
All was going well... Nimbus was perched decorously on the side of the plate, delicately licking yogurt off a piece of melon. Statty was waiting patiently nearby for licks of yogurt from my fork.

I thought... "Indeed!  This is quite civilised!".
Of course, as rat owners you know this wasn't going to last long.

Next moment, Nimbus nabbed a huge chunk of melon and dashed for the under bed stash.  Encumbered by his weighty prize, he stumbled and, in apparent slow motion, I witnessed the melange of rat, yogurt and melon in flight... and it's inevitable downfall.  Nimbus landed in a jumbled furry heap, while the yogurty melon flipped away, coming to a halt with a <splat>     <splat> <splat>  mere inches from the bed.
When time returned to normal speed, I was left with a somewhat stunned, very sheepish, yogurt covered rodent and a messy carpet.  Statty, always one to be helpful, licked the yogurt up for me.  The offending watermelon chunk remained untouched.

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Nimbus was out for free range time last night and, as usual, had taken a drink from my glass of lemon-lime cordial.  We call this "re-fueling"... for the scent marking, of course.  :)
Anyway, I turned my back for 3 seconds to play with Bramble and next thing we find our magazines, some pens, the TV remote, the empty glass and one very sheepish rat sitting in a large puddle on the table.  <sigh>
As we frantically try to clean up the wet sticky mess, Nim casually laps up some of the spilled cordial off the table and grooms himself nonchalantly.

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Rastafarian Rat

When Nimbus is waiting, typically impatiently, for dinner he plays with the climbing rope that hangs down next to the food bowls.  He flings it around with his hands, chews on it and generally takes out his frustration on it.  Anyway, this rope is one of those twisted ones made of strips of t-shirt fabric and the end has a wonderful colourful tassel of curled up strips of fabric.  I came in with dinner last night to find Nimbus lazing with his head under the tassel... it was hanging down on either side of his head like colourful dreadlocks.  Nim said "Hey mon!  You got ma food there, mon?!".
Next thing he'll be singing reggae and smoking grass.  :)

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A bedtime story

I was really tired last night so I decided to go to bed early.  My boys, however, had other plans...

The boys were still rampant when I wheeled The Grotto into our bedroom for the night... an observation I made with some trepidation.  I gave them their bedtime yogurt drop, kissed each of them goodnight and with a last glimpse at their sweet faces looking out at me so innocently, I switched off the light and climbed into bed.

My head hadn't hit the pillow when there came screeching from the cage.  On went the light to find Nimbus and Ramekin wildly "interacting" over the rock on the top shelf.  Nimbus was puffed and hop sidling crazily on one side of the rock, Ramekin was screaming and baring his teeth on the other.  So I placated The Squish and relocated Big Mean Alpha Nimbus to the bottom of the cage.  He sat calmly down there and, as I scritched him, he promised to be a good rat.  Everyone got another kiss goodnight and the light went off again.

This time I actually made it under the doona before I heard the clamorous stomping of Nimbus up 4 cage levels in about 2 seconds, and the ensuing stereo screams from Ramekin and Bramble this time.  <sigh>

After about the 5th time of this, I was starting to get exasperated, to say the least...  I picked Nim up, and yelled at him  "DON'T BEAT UP LITTLE RATS!!!" then plonked him unceremoniously down the bottom of the cage again.  I was pleased that he even managed to look somewhat chastised.  :)  I turned the light off and climbed into bed again.  I waited.  The silence was deafening.

Within less than a minute I heard the unmistakable sound of paper being shredded.  Nimbus had decided that if he couldn't beat up little rats, he was going to vent his frustration on the paper towels in their terracotta pot.  <huge sigh> I can't remember when I finally drifted off to sleep, but the last sound I remember was the irksome  "rrriiiiiiiiiiiipppppp" of paper echoing through the darkness.

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It's raining rats!

I was cleaning out the bottom of The Grotto yesterday, on my knees scooping out the litter tray when a rat fell from the sky.  I kid you not!  There I was scooping away the raisins and next thing Nimbus lands with a <THUMP!> mere inches from of my knees and I spill litter all over the floor from the shock.

I quickly looked up... residual swaying of his Rasta Rope alerted me to the fact that he had fallen down 4 shelves. i.e. from about chest height!!  I panicked (as you do).  But Nim, after the initial shock, was too busy investigating the area under the Grotto to be bothered with emergency medical checks.  He was thankfully unharmed from his skydive and has promised to give up the extreme sports from now on ( I don't believe a word of it!).

Apparently he had been busy in one of his grooming frenzies and in his desire to clean that little bit on the middle of his back that he can never reach, he toppled over.  Unbeknownst to him, the cage doors were open and he fell from the shelf. I often wonder what injuries would have befallen the both of us had he landed on my head.

On relating this tale to Andrea, she commented that he was just living up to his name... Nimbus is, after all, a rain cloud.

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A warning to all

I nearly lost my nose last night.

I decided to treat myself to a face mask... a nice one made of all natural ingredients.  I applied it and decided to go and play with the ratties while it did it's stuff.  Anyway, as usual Nim rushes over to the cage wire and pokes his nose through, and as usual I poke mine through so our noses touch (it's a little greeting we have).
I obviously wasn't wearing my THINKING brain that night... Nim grabbed for this new "treat" just as my instincts kicked in.  My nose got away unscathed of rodent incisors by a mere 1/2 millimetre.

Later on, sense hit me and I realised this stuff probably contained AVOCADO OIL or something else irresistible to rats.  Let this be a warning to all.

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Nimbus is a bad rat

Nimbus is a bad rat.  He's bad through and through.  I can't understand how such a beautiful rat could be so very bad.

I was giving the boys a little avocado treat before dinner the other night.  Nimbus grabbed his piece and dashed into the nest box.  Statty took his into his hammock.  But Bramble and Ramekin are on doxy at the moment, so they got their avocado mashed on a spoon.  Ramekin, in his anxious desire for this rodent ambrosia, desperately lurched for it.  His was one of those postures that defies rodent skeletal mechanics... backside on the top shelf, the rest of his furry form leaning precariously over the edge, one arm supporting him half way down the ladder and one hand grasping the spoon.  He was enthusiastically licking when Nimbus, having finished his already, poked his head out of the nest box looking for more.  But instead he unexpectedly encountered a different kind of treat... the blatantly exposed expansive furry butt of a totally oblivious Ramekin.

The look on Nimbus's face was priceless... so overwhelmingly expressive.  First the "Ahhhhh.. what have we here?"...  I could almost SEE his little ratty brain ticking over... then I swear he smiled a cheekily wicked grin and sniggered to himself.  At that moment I knew what he was going to do, but could do nothing to stop him. My hands were full with two spoons attached to two hungry rodents, who weren't going to give them up for anything.  In the split second that followed, I pleaded silently with him.... be nice!  be nice!  be nice!

<chomp> <squeak!>

Ramekin topples down the stairs in shock while Nimbus watches on from above, smug at his handiwork.  I scold him "Oh you baaaaad rat!" and he gives me the "What? What did I do?" look.

It wasn't a serious bite, just an alpha nip to keep Ramekin in line.  Nimbus also likes to nip any tails that dangle within reach. <sigh>  What am I going to do with this bad baaaaad rat????

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Me and my Nimbus- a non naughty interlude

Nimbus and I are really close.  Sometimes I wonder if he doesn't realise he's a rat at all.  He prefers to be with us than with the other rats in The Grotto.  We have these special moments with him.  He loves to play with my face... nibbles on my nose, grooms my eyebrows and attempt rodentistry (despite my pleas and head weaving to deter him).  He has no problem with standing right there on my face and investigating everything up close.

At night when we park The Grotto next to the sofa with us, all the boys come out and play with us during the evening.  But while the others might have 1-2 trips out of the cage, Nim is in and out constantly to a chorus of "Not you AGAIN!".  He's always under my blanket, nibbling my toes, grooming on the cosiness of my lap, sitting on the coffee table watching TV (and peeing on the remote control and my glasses).

Lying down on the sofa, I flip him onto his back and I pull my legs up to create a backrest for him.  He lounges there, quite content while I rub his belly and play with his feet and tell him he's charming and how much I love him.  He's become even squishier than Ramekin lately... an odd thing for an alpha rat.

He has this amazingly expressive face.  Sometimes he looks old and intelligent, other times gorgeously vacant like a ratty super model.  Sometimes he just stares as us with this odd smile like he's trying to understand our weird ways.  He has a cheerful smile and actually grins cheekily when he's in the mood (especially when he's just chased Ramekin off).

He's a clown... always doing something hilariously bumbling, and yet not realising it (which makes him even funnier).  He gets hopping mad when he's excited and bounces around the place in a frenzy.  Yes, he actually "bounces".  Although he's now over 1 year old, he still enjoys ratlet games, like chasing my finger along the floor.  I can make him go around and around in circles, figure 8s, whatever and he'll play like this for minutes at a time.  If I run my finger in an inward spiraling circle I can get him to spin around on the spot until he gets dizzy and stops to look at me with an exasperated smirk.

This is one very special rat.

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Valentines Day 2000

I'm gorgeous!  Be mine!

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Power cord extortion

Yet again, the Inimitable Nimbus has been a bad baaaad rat.

He has a little scratch on his face at the moment (due to the itchy scabs whose cause we're still trying to figure out), so we have to "operate" on him each morning.  We plonk him on the bathroom bench, squirt him with saline (mmmm... salty!) and attempt to dab just that small part of him with Paxyl cream, although we usually end up with it all over us, his whiskers, the bench, the mirror, basically everywhere but where it needs to go.  Needless to say, he's not at all impressed with this.

So afterwards I take him into bed with me and cuddle him.  He thinks we do this just to placate him (and he certainly makes us feel bad about it with miserable expressions), but it's also so that he is distracted from grooming while the cream does it's stuff.  He gets to run around under the doona, cuddled, scritched and generally slathered with attention (which he laps up in a way only Nim could).

Anyway, he was quite displeased about Operation Nim this morning, so I was under the doona placating him when he decides all of a sudden to leap onto the bedside table. Before I could reach for him, he'd already perched himself on the clock radio facing away from me and was cheerfully having a snack of some sort.  I called "Hey!  What are you eating, Nim?!".  He looked up defiantly from his meal, electrical cord held casually in both hands and unceremoniously spat a piece of black cord insulation in my direction.  He KNOWS he's not allowed to chew that cord... last time he was caught in the act Al comically threatened to garrote his torpedoes with it.  :)

I stared him straight in the eyes and demanded he "Put the cord down and step away from the radio".  He rebelliously spat out another piece of insulation and placed his teeth just above the cord in warning "Squirt me with saline again and the cord gets it".

There followed a lengthy stand-off.

As luck would have it, Al just then wandered in with a treat for "my good Nimbus".  I said "What good Nimbus?" as the sly little beast bounded across the bed joyfully to Al for his treat, who none the wiser gave him it and told him he was a good rodent.
<sigh>  Thus is the emotional chaos that is living with Nimbus.

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Nimbus The Hunter

Last night we're having dinner and Nimbus is wandering around on the table, doing his usual "hunting and gathering" expedition.  He'd pilfered a few small items like noodles and vegies, but had been none too secretly eyeing off the mother load... a huge cob of corn on Al's plate.  We told him "It's too big for you Nimbus, you'd never get it into the cage" (it's a leap of about a foot from the sofa arm into the Grotto), but still he persisted in impatiently circling the plate and sizing up the corn.

Then Al decided to give it to him.  It took him a good minute or so trying to find a decent tooth hold so he was balanced enough to pick it up.  He stumbled and rolled and flipped the cob across the table and shoved it onto the sofa (on top of his blanket and me).  Then, he picked it up again (after about 6 attempts), lifted it proudly above his head and took his first unsteady step.  The corn teetered backwards and the next thing we hear is "whooawhoaaawhooaaaa!!" as Nim topples over backwards, the corn landing on his head (still firmly clenched in his teeth).  He lay still there on his back awhile, confused and a little sheepish, while we nearly pissed ourselves laughing at him.  Eventually he reluctantly let the corn go so he could right himself, and proceeded to roll/shove/heave/flip the cob into the cage.  With pride he stashed it into his box and was enjoying a kernel or two when StattyRat wandered up (obviously he'd smelled this treat that Nim wasn't sharing).  Statty grabbed it and ran... funnily enough Stat! had no difficulty with the weight or balance... and stashed it in his pocket hammock for his own private enjoyment.  Poor Nim... all that work for just a few kernels...

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Another Corny Tale

Nimbus managed to pilfer half a cob of corn off my plate the other night.  Now this corn cob was almost as large as the rat, you'd think this would be an easy contest... but it took us a good few minutes of struggling to retrieve it.  When he first realised he'd been spotted, he did the run in all directions evasive maneuver (aided by his small size, speed and cunning, but hindered by the slippery place mats on the table).  When we did manage to catch up with him (and right all the stuff he'd knocked over on the table) and attempt to get our hands on the corn, he did the head writhing and the body twist.  When we finally got our hands on the slippery corn, he started tugging (you'd be surprised at how much pulling power a little determined rat can muster).  In the end it took two of us to separate thief from booty.  :)

<sigh>  After that my corn looked inedible... it was cold, bits were scattered all over the table, it was covered in rat hair (and probably also pee and whatever else was on Nim's feet), so we ended up giving it to the boys anyway.  :)

But it amazes me the effort that they put into it!  I can't help but be reminded of Dap when he caught a snail while ranging in the garden... took three of us to remove it from his mouth: one to hold his enormous bulk, one to hold his head still and one to remove the snail.  He was so adamant about it!!  "MY treat!  I found it!  Give it back, you thief!".

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The Nimbus Peep Show

He has this habit of climbing up to the windowsill during free range time.  He usually just sits up there and grooms and preens and lazes about in the sun.  Problem is, he doesn't realise that he's on show to the entire backyard.  A backyard filled with large hungry scavenger birds like butcher birds, magpies, currawongs and crows.  They all sit on the outside window ledge and stare at him lustfully while he innocently flaunts himself in plain view.  I wonder if he KNOWS they're watching him and does this on purpose...

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The Flying Nimbus

The boys already monopolise me in the mornings, being the demanding ratties they are.  But this morning, things went a little too far... I can't even have a shower anymore!

Nimbus and Statty were out for their free range time and were cheerfully wrestling and chasing each other around the room, so I got the chance to sneak away and have my shower.  I'm half-way through shampooing my hair when I hear an almighty CRASH!  Panicked, I leap from the shower and run into the rat room, naked and dripping wet.  I find a photo frame on the floor and no rodents to be found.  Just as the realisation dawns on me that this frame is usually sitting on top of the tall bookcase, I look up to find a spooked Nimbus flying at my head.  Surprised, I instinctively reach out and he lands in my arms and claws his way up my bare chest.  Time stands still as I cuddle my Nimbus to calm him down, both of us now soaking wet and Nim licking water droplets off my arm.  Statty peaks out from  under the bed wondering if it safe to come out now.

My guess is Nim had climbed up to the top of The Grotto again and impatient to be back down, he'd leaped onto the bookshelf (a 2 foot jump).  He'd knocked the frame down which fell with a loud clatter as it hit the back of the Grotto on it's way, scaring all rats in the room, no one more so than Nim in his lofty perch.  Then as soon as he saw me he leaped for safety.

He was obviously shaken, so I put him back in the cage and he curled up quietly in his terracotta pot.  I was worried about him at first, thinking he may have hurt himself, as he's usually hyperactive until I leave for work.  But I checked him thoroughly and he was fine. I think the scare and adrenaline inspired flying squirrel impersonation simply exhausted him.  Poor NimNim.
Well... maybe this will stop him from climbing to the top of The Grotto from now on.  :)

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A rat?

Nimbus doesn't know he's a rat.  He spends the whole evening out of the Grotto.  He wanders around the coffee table, watches TV, sleeps under the blanket on the sofa, plays with us, shares our dinner, pees on everything and generally loiters about causing trouble.  When we put him home to the cage for the night he gives us this disbelievingly disgusted look that says "You're putting me in here??  With these... these...  RATS?!"
One of these days I'm going to have to sit him down and delicately explain to him what he actually is...

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Nimbus The Beast

He's now discovered how to climb from one shelf to the next when The Grotto door is open... that one shelf being the very shelf that separates him from B, Bear and the ratlets.  :&

It's a very delicate and dangerous operation that involves stretching rodent skeletal dynamics to a new level... which is no problem when spurred on by ratlet scent and rampant alpha determination.  And this skill can be achieved in the blink of an eye... many times during cage clean-up this morning did I extract an over-zealous Nimbus from the ratlet quarters only to have him doggedly return to the task.  He'd be standing there with a smug look on his face, undishevelling his fur from the climb and smiling as the ratlets naively bounded over to meet their nice Uncle Nim...

He's still a beast.
Granted, a charming, handsome, lovable beast.
But a beast all the same.

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The Bad Nimbus Pledge

I will not deposit my raisins next to my human's dinner fork.
I do not need to re-scent mark everything on the coffee table every night.
I will refrain from stealing mashed potato from my human's plate.
My winter sofa blanket is warmer without holes.
I will give my human the love and respect she deserves, rather than just use her as a ratlet scent swatch.
The ratlets do not welcome my alpha presence in their home.
I will try not to make The Bear scream at the mere sight of me.
Banging loudly and power huffing through the trap door will not make it open.
I will no longer climb the cage wire, poke my nose through and hiss at Motley until he hides in the PVC pipe.
Just because he's named RiffRaff does not mean he should be treated with any less respect than my pedigreed self.
When the other rats have out time on the sofa I will calmly relax in my quarters and await my turn with dignity.
I will not glare at, sidle towards, huff at, swipe at or otherwise harass free ranging ratlets through my cage wires.
I will not be a beast.

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Nimbus The Thief

It was shopping night last night so I brought the boys home their favourite:  avocado sushi rolls.
I had seven little rat sized portions on a platter, their little piece of avocado perched delicately on top.  I placed it on the bed for a moment while I opened The Grotto door... in that minuscule second, Nimbus (who was free ranging) managed to pilfer 4 pieces of avocado off the tops of the sushi and dart under the bed before I could nab his hide.  Little beast.  I had to go back to the kitchen and cut up extra avocado for the rest of the boys, who were rampantly awaiting their treat.

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The Death Wobbles

NimNim has this habit of climbing the downstairs Grotto door and perching precariously on top of it when it's open.  Problem is, when he sits too far out on it, the door vibrates a little and, of course, so does Nimbus.   We call this the "death wobbles".

Anyway, last night he had his tail held out for balance when the death wobbles hit him, and the vibrations went right down to the tip of his tail.  He ended up with a standing wave in his tail, like a blurred figure 8.  Took us 5 minutes of pissing ourselves laughing before we were able to "rescue" him from the door.  :)

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The Mitsubishi Nimbus

I followed a Nimbus in to work the other day... yes, there's a car called a Nimbus.
Anyway, it got me to thinking about the inherent problems of  owning such a car...

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"Nimbus is a beast"- a song by Ramekin

Care of Cartman from SouthPark
<Ramekin sings while dancing merrily around the upper parts of The Grotto, safely divided from Nimbus>

Nimbus is a beast
He's a big fat beast
He's the biggest beast in the whole wide world.
He's a stupid beast if there ever was a beast.
He's a beast to all the young rat boys.
On Monday, he's a beast.
On Tuesday, he's a beast.
On Wednesday through Saturday, he's a beast.
Then on Sunday, just to be different.
He's a super mega nasty alpha beast.
Have you ever met my friend Nimbus?
He's the biggest beast in the whole wide world.
He's a mean old beast and he smells like pee.
He's a beast beast beast beast beast beast beast beast
beast beast beast beast beast beast beast beast beast
Yes, he's a stupid beast.
Nimbus is a beast and he's just a dirty beast.
Nimbus is a beeeeeeeaaaaaaaaasssssst.

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Nimbus is not a rat

Despite all his beastliness and trouble, Nimbus is quite stunningly beautiful.  He has the most amazingly expressive face, framed perfectly by a cloud of gorgeous white whiskers.  I'm often overcome with this and hold him up to Al's face with a
"This is NOT a rat!"
<Nimbus does his best vacant super model pose>
"He simply cannot be a rat.  LOOK AT HIM!"
<Nimbus blinks innocently and licks my thumb>
Al and I look at Nim and back at each other in awed silence.  Meanwhile Nimbus wanders off to pee on the coffee table.

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Oh Nimbus!

Why is it that when anything naughty/bad/silly happens in our house Nimbus is *always* involved???

I was cleaning out the top half of The Grotto last night and so I had The Little Dudes in the downstairs part of the cage.  Nimbus and Statty were out for free range time, which Nim spent constantly trying to get up on the cage wire to "meet" the ratlets.  Because of the storage area under the cage, it's quite a leap for a rat to reach the wire to climb.

Anyway, I had just refilled the large water bowls and I placed them for just a moment on the floor in front of the cage while I opened the door.  Nimbus, not one to pass up an opportunity for trouble, decided that these would be a perfect launch pad to reach the wire...

So, I spent the next 10 minutes sopping water out of the carpet with an old towel.  Nimbus thought this was great fun... he first thought he'd help out by licking up the spill.  Then there was all the fun of pouncing on / tunnelling under/trying to drag away the towel as I tried to work.  He's such a helpful ratty... <sigh>

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On bathing Nimbus

I decided to bathe Nimbus this morning so he'd be all spiffy for his vet visit this afternoon.  He gets a little oily from that orange hormonal stuff on his back... big studly alpha buck that he is.  :)
Anyway, he usually doesn't mind baths too much... so I was quite unprepared when he decided to suddenly leap onto me.  Make that: suddenly leap onto me with talons extended, landing on the bare sensitive skin of my neck and sliding slowly downwards until he was clinging wetly and desperately to my breasts.

It was about this moment I regretted choosing to wear a tank top for the rat bathing procedure rather than more appropriate steel armour.  I was forced to wear a high necked tshirt today to hide the angry red scratches emblazoned on me for my intolerodent work mates to snidely comment on.

Anyone want a mink rat?  Going cheap...

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Nim's Morning To Do List

1.  Make lots of noise at 5 am so Mum lets me out early
2.  Scent mark Mum's lap during the morning scritch
3.  Tip dirt bin over and fling stuff all over the floor
4.  Sit stubbornly inside my nest box while Mum's trying to clean it out... she loves this game!
5.  Steal fresh paper towels from the nest box and drag them to the Clubhouse barricade
6.  Chase the cleaning rag about my feeding area
7.  Get underfoot and trip Mum while she leaves to change the water bowl.  Note: avoid falling water
8.  Forcefully demand a drink from the water bowl the instant it is re-filled with fresh water
9.  Climb the cage door and harass the ratlets through the wire
10.  Poop in ratlet litter tray while Mum has it out of the cage for scooping
11.  Sit smugly and pee inside ratlet nest box when Mum has it out for cleaning (preferably after she puts clean paper towels inside it)
12.  Distract Mum from cleaning by pretending to fight with StattyRat
13.  Pick up something from the carpet and eat it before Mum desperately pries it from my mouth
14.  Stand on the end of the bed and leap onto Mum's back when she least expects it (when she's holding a food bowl is good)
15.  Groom flauntingly on the window sill while the prey birds ogle me lustfully from the backyard
16.  Look miserable when sent home so I get a yogurt drop

Needless to say, he completes all his tasks (and more) daily!

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Power surges!

Nimbus was in one of his "hopping mad" moods during his free range time this morning.  He gets all twitchy and crazy and hops
about excitedly.  Statty knows to stay away from him when he's in this mood, so he was under the bed somewhere gnawing loudly
on the wooden support slats.
Anyway, here's Nimbus perched dexterously on the wooden bed post, looking mad and ready for trouble.  Next thing, without any
warning or apparent reason, he leaps 2 foot into the air and lands about 1 foot away on the bed.  Why he did this, we have no
idea.  We suspect a power surge... built-up madness just letting go all at once.

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Nosy Nimbus

Nim's recently taken up a new hobby of nose nipping... my nose in particular.  A typical conversation:

<holding Nim up to my face>  I love you NumaNum!
Oh you beast!  Don't bite my nose!
Hey!  Quit it!
What about a kiss for mum?
<licks my lips>
Awwwww!  I love you too NumaNum!

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My second husband

When my husband is at university during the evenings, I have my boys out with me for company.  Nimbus, after doing his normal rounds (peeing on the tv remote and my glasses, re-fueling from my juice glass, tasting my dinner, etc), inevitably ends up on Al's favourite lounge chair or parked on the stair banister (as shown).  He'll park his furry butt there and groom or just fall asleep on the arm rest.  I don't know whether he's:
a.  waiting for Al to get home
b.  up to no good (scent marking or chewing the cushions when I'm not looking), or
c.  trying to fill in for Al's absence so I don't feel lonely

I get the distinct impression it's the last one... he seems to know when I need some company or cheering up.  He'll just wander over
and lick my lips or nibble my nose or something.
I envision Al leaving for work in the morning and whispering to Nim "OK, I have to leave for awhile.  That means YOU as alpha rat are now the man of the house.  Look after Robyn for me!".  And so Nim looks after me until Al gets home.  I wonder if I'm in safe hands.

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The mink suit

Al tells me "Nimbus is just a little person in a mink suit".
I spend hours each day scritching and massaging him, trying to find that elusive zipper... but alas!  No luck!  So far...

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"Nim" by Dr Seuss

When my Nim is on a whim to be a brimful naughty crim
His grin will throw a glim as he rims his victim in
He's as trim and full of vim as a rat who hits the gym
I just smile at him with grim as he pees upon my limb

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Lime theft

Last night, as usual, Nimbus was wandering about the coffee table looking for trouble.  Anyway, he spied my glass and decided he needed to refuel... for the copious scent marking, of course.  This is not an uncommon occurrence, so I leaned the half empty glass over for him so he could have a drink (we've learned from experience to simply offer it to him, rather than let him tip the glass over himself).

He took a delicate lick of my iced water and suddenly paused.  He stuck his nose in the water, jumped back surprised and shook his head dry.  Next thing his hands were in my drink up to his armpits, waving about frantically.  Within seconds he'd secured the wedge of lime from the bottom of the glass.  LOL!  He bolted with his prize to the other end of the table and huddled wetly in excitement to eat his treat.  We sniggered quietly at his folly and Al smirked "This should be amusing".

Somewhat taken aback, we stared in amazement as Nimbus proceeded to EAT the lime.  It took about 30 seconds before he realised this stuff was bitter, then we were witness to one of the most spectacular displays of ickspression (see The Ratty Dictionary) ever!  Hopping from foot to foot, sour expression on his furry face, and then the magnficent rampant chin rubbing along the floor... or in this case, our dinner place mats.

I keep telling him karma is going to bite him on his furry butt for all his naughtiness.  Seems instead, it bit his tongue.  :)

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Nim's nest box saga

Day 1:  I'm mean!
We have an old wooden nest box that we built for Dap and Fudge over 2 years ago.  Nimbus and Statty inherited it from Dapper and have loved it ever since.  Particularly Nimbus, who is a nest box marinator, as opposed to Statty who's a hammock dweller.

However, it's protective waterproofing has been chewed and the wood infused with pee so much that it now stinks.  I spend way too much time cleaning it out and decided that enough was enough and the nest box had to go.  I hoped to replace it with a more practical plastic nest box.

Problem is Nimbus LOVES his old nest box.  With a passion!. My previous attempt to replace it lasted all of about 12 hours before I crumbled to Nim's miserable face and gave it back to him.  <sigh>  But, this time I steeled my determination and replaced his nest box on the weekend.  Following an initial full exploratory of the new box, including nibbling and peeing, he exited to the shelf and glared at me... he was blatantly not impressed.  The look of disdain on his furry face made me feel so mean!  But I held my ground... after all, I'm sure he'll learn to like it soon.

It's been 2 days now and he refuses to sleep in it!  He's instead taken to snoozing in his tube loft, or barging in on StattyRat (who prefers the peace of a Nimless hammock).  I've tried hiding treats in it to tempt him, to no avail.  When I send him home after free range time, I try to place him right in the box, but he plants his feet on each side of the entrance and resists me desperately.

I don't know what to do!  I really REALLY want him to accept this new nest box, but he's a stubborn beast!  I could make him a new wooden one the same as the old one, but then I'm still left with the same problem of it becoming stinky and being difficult to clean.  I refuse to give in to his mopey and accusing looks, no matter how adorable he is and how inadequate a rat mum it makes me feel.  Nimbus WILL accept his new nest box.  He WILL.

Day 2:  I'm weak!
<sigh>  I couldn't take it anymore.  Nimbus has his nest box back.

I came home to find Nim sprawled on the shelf in front of the new nest box with a miserable look on his gorgeous furry face and no enthusiasm at all for a cuddle.  He wouldn't even kiss me!  All the accusations of "Meanie" from Nim's ratlist friends came flooding into my mind and I couldn't help but succumb.

I put it back in his cage and he instantly climbed in, spun around a few times and then poked his nose out with a huge happy eye boggling grin!  Anyone who thinks rats can't smile or show their emotions has never met my Num!  Within seconds Statty barged his way inside too (they only just fit in there together) and I was awed by the glorious vision of two sets of furry torpedoes and entwined tails within a wooden arched frame.  They haven't come out again since, and that was over 30 minutes ago.

I guess I'll just have to find a way to clean / renovate / rebuild it, because there's no way I can take it off him again!  Poor Num! I'm a horrible rat mum...

Day 3:  I'm exasperated!
That beast!  I put his new scorned nest box out in the rat room for everyone to play in and as soon as Nim got out this morning he leapt into it joyfully!  Maybe it \was just his way of showing happiness that it was out of his cage... but it certainly looked like he was revelling in his great victory over mum!  :&

Anyway, we're trying a different tact now.  I've placed BOTH nest boxes in his home.  I had to remove the tree branch to get enough space, but the big boys don't use it much anymore so it's not a great loss to them.  You can see their home here (the last photo on the page is the most recent configuration).  Note that this photo is typical... Statty in his hammock, Nim's nose just poking out of in his beloved wooden nest box.  :)
I've placed the new nest box on the right at the front where the tree branch was attached to the wall. That way they can use it as a step to jump down from the hammock above.  I came in to check on them just now and found Nimbus cheerfully grooming.  And where was he cheerfully grooming?  Yep. In the new nest box!

Day 4:  The beasts!
Well, Nimbus and Statty are quite taken with their new nest box now. I came home yesterday to find Nimbus inside it and Statty sprawled on top of it!  The old nest box was sitting lonely on the top shelf, empty but for the encompassing stink of pee.
Poor little mopey NimNim "I <sniff> want my <sniff> nest box back mum! <sob> Pleeeeease <quivering chin>".
The little beast is now smirking at his dramatic acting talent and effective manipulation of mum. I feel like such a wuss!

I had planned to fix up his nest box this weekend... but now I'm seriously considering just tossing it in the nearest bin.
And maybe Nimbus with it.  :)

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The Beast of Bourbon

I was just giving the boys their evening run and had Nimbus and Statty out bounding about. I was parked on the rat room floor with them enjoying a bourbon and coke.  Needless to say, my drink became a rat magnet.  Or more precisely, a Nimbus magnet.  I figured a little lick wouldn't hurt him and so I offered him a taste.  As per usual, he dunked his paw straight in and scooped up a handful.  Mmmmm <licking his lips> and so he dived back in for more.  I let him have a few more licks and then tried to take the glass away, but there were eight Nimbus claws desperately clamped to the rim of the glass.  I dragged him along for awhile before he finally let go, but he continued to chase the glass.

In fits of laughter, I called for Al to come and watch the entertainment as Nim chased the glass about the room.  I grabbed a moment to glance up at Al and next thing Num had caught the glass and spilled bourbon and coke all over the carpet and himself!  Not one to spook easily, Num immediately went into action... forget that his belly was all wet and sticky and mum was in hysterics, he had to save that bourbon!!  Countless times I dragged him from the puddle only to have him dart back there to lick.  Even while I was soaking it up with some paper towels, here he was sucking the stuff out of the carpet.  Once I had most of it (not an easy task while laughing so hard), Num decided the carpet sucking wasn't as lucrative as he'd like, and so he started eating the bourbon soaked paper towels!  I wrestled these off him and eventually he gave in and ambled (somewhat unsteadily) off to his clubhouse.  No doubt to lick the remaining bourbon off his belly fur.

So let this be a warning to you:  beasts and bourbon don't mix.

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A bit of B

I had Nimbus and Stattles out for their run the other morning.  Well, Stattles was running and Nimbus was parked in my lap grooming. I've been letting Bramble (aka B) out to play with Stattles lately, since Nimbus can't chase him about anymore (he has hind leg degeneration, a common affliction seen in old bucks). But usually this is when Nimbus is back home in The Grotto as he was always a bully to B. I figured Nimbus can't do any harm to B anymore, so let B out to roam about the room while I was there to supervise.

Here's Nimbus, upsidedown in my lap, completely limp and enjoying a groom. His belly is exposed to the world, he's in the most submissive position possible and virtually incapable of doing anything alphaish if he wanted to.  Along comes B, innocently fascinated by Nim and wanting a sniff. And what does this paralysed, upsidedown, submissive-positioned Nimbus do?

Yep. He bites B on the butt! Not even a blink or a sniff or a warning sign or anything... just leans over and <chomp!>.  And then, I swear, he smirked a smug grin at his handiwork.  That beast!

B was fine, albeit a little shocked. It was just a harmless warning nip after all. But I can't believe that Nimbus, now old and feeble, still has the upper hand! Hmmm... well, I guess I can, he's always been a beast, no reason to change now.  And aside from B getting put in his place, it was great to see Nimbus' charismatic personality shining through despite his physical limitations. He seemed quite animated and proud of himself afterwards... obviously an ego-boost.  Not that this megalomaniacal ratty needs an ego boost.

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Nimbus Lecter

Bokeh was zooming about the room as usual one day recently, when he decided to stretch up to poke his cute little nose in to say "Hi" to Nimbus, who was lazing about in his quarters grooming.  Nim's eyes gave the old alpha cautionary glint for a moment and then, completely without warning, he did a "Hannibal".  i.e. sudden lunge at the bars, which scared the raisins out of Bokeh (and me too!).  Here's Nimbus, fur all puffed and huffing with rampant alphamosity.  One wonders what he'd actually do if I let him out there with Bokeh... it's not like he could ever dream of catching him in his current feeble state.  But I'm sure he'd have Bokeh on the run anyway... with this rat, his attitude is more dangerous than his bite.  :)

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Creature of the night

Nimbus has found a new way to be beastly.  He's taken to lazing about all evening and then waking up at the very moment I start thinking about going to bed.  I stretch and say "OK, I think it's bed time", look over at The Grotto and there is Num clinging to the bars, nose crammed through, begging to come out.  We tell him in exasperation "You're supposed to be CREPUSCULAR, rat!", but he just gnaws on the wire madly and fooffs until I succumb.  Like I have any willpower where that rat is concerned.

Anyway, here I am last night, it's 11:15pm, I'm dead tired and dreaming of my doona... and yet I'm on my hands and knees carrying a minky rat butt all over the house.  [Nimbus is suffering hind leg degeneration so I hold his rear end in my hand and let him run about on his front legs... see photo] Meanwhile Nim's foofffing wildly, sniffing everything and scentmarking my hand as he zooms about happily.  Next thing he's climbing into my lap for a groom and a cuddle.  And then we're raiding the fridge for a midnight snack of mashed avocado, tofu cream cheese and one bite of a grape before spitting the rest out onto the carpet and trundling off to gnaw on the coffee table legs.

He is so animated lately!!  The steroids (Laurabolin for his hind leg weakness) have made such a huge impact on him.  He's so much more alert and cheerful and active and he can walk a LOT better.  Before he could only go a few steps before taking a break, now he can walk about a metre!  When he's in such a great mood, I feel so bad putting him home to his cage... even if I am a zombie and need to get up early for work tomorrow.

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The Badlands

For all intents and purposes Nimbus' legs are paralysed now.  He can move them a little bit, but can't use them to propel himself along anymore.  Rather he drags himself along with his upper body (which is quite buff now he's on the 'roids) assisted by ambling along on his hips, feet dragging behind.  This may sound sad, but it doesn't stop him from getting where he wants to go.

Since he's rather slow these days, I often put him down on the floor while I'm busy doing something and let him amble about.  The logic being "He can't get far".  This is what we did last night while having dinner.  I placed him down on the lounge room floor and, being the beast he is, he ambled straight towards the The Badlands.

The Badlands is an area in our front room (a small annex within the lounge room) where we have my TDR office, my sewing machine, a sofa bed and a stack of all Al's work tools and renovation materials.  The boys think it's a ratty wonderland because there's lots of fun, dangerous things to play with and they can wedge their fat furry butts under the heavy immovable sofa bed and stay out for hours, effectively unnabbable.

Anyway, Num's on his way to The Badlands, so I scoop him up and place him on the other side of the room.  He starts innocently heading behind the lounge where he likes to play around under the lounge covers, so I tell him "Good NumNum!" and feel safe to let him enjoy himself for awhile.  We sit down to have dinner, watching TV and keeping half an eye on the curtain moving behind the lounge.  A minute or so later, I ask Al "Have you seen Nim come out from behind the lounge yet?".  "No."  Hmmm... I check to see if he's OK, but he's NOT THERE!   Can you guess where he was??

Yep, he was wedged under the heavy immovable sofa bed in The Badlands.  The little beast did the innocent "I'll just play behind the
lounge" act and the moment I looked away he BOLTED for The Badlands.  This is an old feeble rat here, but he managed to drag his paralysed furry butt about 5 metres across an open carpet area without being seen by either of us!

It took us 15 minutes, three fingerfuls of avocado and a broomstick to remove his beastly hide from under the sofa bed.  :&
Needless to say, I'll be reviewing my "He can't get far" logic.

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The Shampoo Rat

Nimbus' lifelong nemesis was "The Shampoo Rat".  He actually loved having a bath, but the afterbath aftermath was a riot.

He'd hover about the cage like a puff ball (think cartoon rat just out of a clothes dryer), huffing and shuffling and rubbing himself on things in an alpha frenzy.  He'd pick on Stattles and nip fingers and sidle up to the nestbox... he couldn't quite figure out why he could *smell* the shampoo rat following him everywhere he went, but couldn't actually *find* it to beat up.

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The fishy beret

Al had some smoked salmon one night, so of course, he thought the boys would like a little taste of it.  Dapper nabbed his like he
hadn't eaten for 6 months.  Statty was inside his pocket hammock unaware of the treat, so we did what we usually do to get him out... blow the smell of food his way.  Unfortunately, as Al was blowing, the little piece of salmon flipped off his finger and fell.  We searched and searched the floor for this morsel until Al finally discovered it just one shelf below... stuck to Nimbus's head.

Nimbus, completely oblivious to his fishy beret, was begging and pleading for his piece of salmon...  "Come on!!  Give me some!! Don't tease me... I can smell it around here somewhere." <looking about frantically>.

Al and I were nearly pissing ourselves with laughter, and Nimbus was completely unaware why we were laughing at him.  We finally
managed to control ourselves enough to peel the salmon off his head and offer it to him.  He looked rather sheepish after that.

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