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Ratty Ramblings

A collection of thoughts, comments, theories, observations and tall tales about living with rats.

Iridescent green raisins

The other morning I was doing the morning clean up of the rat cage and was horrified to find their litter tray full of iridescent green raisins!  I had awful thoughts of my boys being full of nasty bacteria and checked them over while mentally scheduling some time to rush them to the vet.  They didn't seem to realise what all the fuss was about and just stared, whispering to each other about how Mum was freaking out.  As I headed into the bathroom for a shower, I discovered a nice little stash behind the bathroom door... the decrepit remains of a shredded pencil.  No prizes for guessing what colour it was!  Needless to say, on removal of their green pencil chew toy, the ratty raisins returned to normal colour within a day or so.  Only brown pencils allowed from now on.

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Tantalising tubes

Why is it that all rats are irresistibly attracted to anything in a tube?  Be it toothpaste, face cream, KY jelly, glue, antiseptic ointment, paint, sun block, etc.
And when are the producers of rat medications going to realise this and start packaging their products in "rattractive" tubes.  No sneaky disguising of medications in yogurt and pasta sauce, no squirting nasty stuff down your rat's throat. So easy... just toss the Baytril tube in the cage and the rats chew their way to health.

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Rats and socks

What IS it with rats and socked toes?  Why do they attack them?
Myself and many other pednipologists (See The Ratty Dictionary) have often pondered this very question, often while nursing a sore toe and glaring at Nimbus.  My boys have never bitten me... well, except for the time I came home from fishing and they mistook my fingers for a dead prawn.  I can wave my toes back and forth in front of their noses with no consequences, except the occasional sweet whiskery sniff, lick or pedicure.  But put them in a sock and they're fair game.  I've experimented.
1. They don't have to be smelly socks, they also bite clean ones.
2. They won't bite the sock when toes aren't inside it, preferring to drag it away for nesting material.
3. They will attack whether you wiggle your toes or not.
What ARE their furry little brains thinking???  Do they think it's food?  An enemy?  Something worth nabbing and stashing? Is it a game?  A love bite?  A dominance thing?  I guess more research is needed into this fascinating conundrum.

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A tribute to tails

The humble ratty tail... spurned by many, but admired by those who understand it's beauty and perfection.
I particularly love the way they wrap their tail around your wrist when you're holding them, or anchor it under your nose for grip while they're leaning too far off your shoulder.  Also the way they run with it straight out behind, kept mere millimetres off the floor.  How they helicopter their tails to re-balance themselves when you hold them tilted to one side.  The way tails dangle out of hammocks, or inadvertently stick out from under the box your rat is hiding in. The way they use it as a paintbrush to smear their scent, or as a prop for getting into complicated grooming positions.  The elegance with which they curl it around themselves when sleeping.
Truly amazing...

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Common ground

The top 10 things that my rats and I share in common:

1.  We're always happy to see each other.
2.  Our priorities are: food, love, fun and sleep (not necessarily in that order)
3.  We all like to hide under the doona together on cold mornings (throw breakfast into this scenario and all priorities in No.2
are met)
4.  Investigation, exploration and the need to learn everything about our world is in our blood.
5.  Treat foods make us happy.
6.  We often do silly / stupid / spontaneous things and stuff up a lot, but always manage to bounce back and laugh at ourselves.
7.  We all agree that female rats are cute when they wiggle their ears.
8.  We believe life is too short and to live for the moment!
9.  We are not shy in demanding hugs / scritches / kisses.
10.  We realise that hammock lazing is a skill that requires hours and hours of practice daily.

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Rats are money

Has anyone else noticed that rats are money?
Doe / "dough" and "buck" are slang terms for money... obviously someone realised just how precious the little fuzzbutts are.
I can only hope that one day when I ask my friends if I can borrow a couple of bucks, they'll hand me a pair of big furry rodents.

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Are you at risk?

Do your rats choose the very moment you're leaving for work to bound cheerfully over to you and demand some play time?
Do they perform their "starved rat" act in the cage any chance they get (even though they've just been fed a better meal than you)?
Do they linger longingly on your lap, resentful that you've stopped scritching them now your hand is cramped and numb with RSI
(Repetitive Scritch Injury)?
Do they glare at you with distress when they don't get grapes and avocado with every meal?
Do they squeak miserably when you bath them, even though they are the ones causing bodily harm to you with their claws?
When you have to dose them with foul tasting meds, do they look up at you with those large dark soulful eyes as if to say "Don't you love me, Mum?"

If you answered "Yes" to any (or all) of these questions, then BEWARE!!  You're witnessing the skilled psychological tactics of R. norvegicus.  If exposed to this emotional abuse for any length of time, your immune system can fail, resulting in you becoming a hapless Rat Slave.  Like a deer mesmerised by a car's headlights, rats will become your sole priority in life... work, family life, social interactions, even religious convictions will suffer at the hands of this debilitating affliction.  Then before you know it, you'll be posting to the ratlist.

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Fed Red!

Nimbus gave me a scare yesterday morning.  I picked him up for a cuddle and found one of his feet had a large bluish red patch on it.  My first thought was "Oh my god!!!  Bumblefoot!!!".  I panicked for awhile (as you do), concerned that he might be in pain... until I looked at the cage floor and found large bluish stains all over the place from their breakfast.  Blueberries!!  He had obviously trodden on one, as his "bumble" wiped right off with a wet tissue.
Then there was the time I came home to find Dapper lying with his head in a pool of blood, which turned out to be a giant red globe grape skin.  And a huge gash on Statty's side where he'd slept on a piece of tomato skin.

I take this moment to warn all rat owners of such ratty practical jokes.  Strawberry juice is not blood.  Raspberry staining on bedding is not porphyrin.  Red kidney bean skins are not pieces of dried blood.  Juicy cherry seeds are not barfed up lungs.  Red grape skins are not peeled rat skin from fights.  Pink watermelon stains on bedding are not caused by blood in rat urine.
Consider a large "Fed Red!" sign to place on their cage whenever you feed them anything red... it could save you from a heart attack.

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For the love of grooming

I love watching my rats groom. They are just so fastidious about it, every little bit of fur must be groomed to perfection, and so fast!
I love how they get so involved in it that they often topple over but just keep on grooming lying down, like they didn't even notice.
I love the way Nimbus grooms under his chin by pulling the fur out with his hands so his mouth can reach it.
I love the way Ramekin lies upside down, expansive belly on view, grasping his back leg so he can groom between his toes.
I love the way they groom their face really fast, but for some reason have to drag their hands in slow motion over their ears.
I love the way they wipe their hands on the floor / placemat / sofa / my clothes / etc after they've eaten a wet or sticky treat.
I love the way Bramble holds his tail in his hands so he can groom it (a small miracle... none of my other rats do this).
I love the way Statty grooms his belly so systematically in lines like he's eating a cob of corn.
Grooming truly encompasses the character of each and every rat.

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The Rodent Complementary Theory

Fellow rodentologists,

I stand here before you to present a new theory of rodent dynamics.  We have all pondered how, despite the phenomenal
differences in the personalities of our rats, they manage to co-exist peacefully in the one cage.  I now propose a theory in an attempt to understand this.

The Rodent Complementary Theory
"In any pair (or small group) of rats, the individual personalities interact in such a way as to create a perfect balance."

A few case studies:

1.  Nimbus and Statty.
Nimbus is an over social, egocentric, megalomaniac alpha rat who is prone to disruptive behaviour.
Statty is a quiet, shy, sensitive rat who is never any trouble at all (Mr Perfect).

2.  Bramble and Ramekin
Bramble is an over enthusiastic, carefree, sleek little cheeky rat who is ready and willing to take on the world.
Ramekin is a lazy pudge who is content to eat and sleep and submissively flop over to expose his belly to anyone.

3.  Dapper and Fudge
Fudge was a fast, sensible, incredibly smart rat who took his alpha duties seriously and could be relied upon to stash, build
nests and protect their territory.
Dapper was a big, dopey, lazy, cuddly rat who's main aim in life was to have fun and be slothfully happy.

As you can see from these examples, The Rodent Complementary Theory explains how such wildly differing personalities manage
to live together peacefully.  Each opposing personality balances the other...
Good traits cancel out bad traits.
Sensible smartness balances out carefree dopiness.
Social enthusiasm balances out shyness.

I believe that all rats that are kept together in groups get along together by the seamless intertwining of their opposing personalities to produce a peaceful harmony.  Questions, anyone?

<polite applause from the assembled scientists>

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Who's the boss?

The rats are the ones in the cage...
But who spends all day waiting hand and foot on them?

The rats have no choice about the food given to them...
But who has the healthier, more varied and interesting diet?

The rats get disciplined when they have been bad...
But who can stay angry at those innocent fuzzy faces for long?

The rats don't have to work for their living...
And yet who spends all their own hard earned money buying them stuff?

The rats can only come out for play time when we allow it...
And yet, who can resist those pleading expressions at any time of the day?

The rats are totally dependent on us for their survival...
And yet, can we imagine our own lives without them?

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Rats are bad for your health

I used to go to the gym every night on my way home from work.  Now I rush home to play with the boys instead.  And although keeping them in line provides excellent aerobic training, I doubt even The Bear is heavy enough to lift for high intensity weight
training.  My fitness is suffering because of my rats.

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Picture this...

I'm sitting on the rat room floor while The Little Dudes are having their out time.  Motley is sitting in my lap while I scritch his belly,
and my husband is standing at the cage door talking to Bramble while Roof and Bokeh swarm about his feet with their usual rampantness.
Suddenly Al starts to twitch... his right leg flicks and shakes and he screams in agony.  His whole body contorts and his leg flings about like he's having some sort of seizure.  Then, before I can get up to help him, he pulls down his pants.  Right there in my face is his (might I say darned sexy) butt, encased in tight black boxer briefs.  As I watch on entranced, his hand goes down his pants and searches around front and back for awhile.  Al finally sighs in relief as he extracts from his pants... Bokeh.

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Dinner anyone?

I was sitting on the rat room floor last night, with ratlets swarming everywhere and the big boys clamorously demanding to be let out
for their turn, when my husband phoned to say he was on his way home.  At that moment I had Bokeh precariously balanced on my head, Riff was desperately climbing to reach my shoulder and Motley was chewing on my big toenail.  I guess my rodents put me in a slightly mad mood, as the following conversation ensued:

Al: "Got any dinner plans?"
Me: "Ummm... Ouch! That's my toe, you beast!!  How about some Motley Stew??  Or a Bokeh Burger?  Maybe some RiffRaff Ragout?  We've got all the ingredients for Nimbus Nuggets with Statty Sauce, or even Bear Ball Bolognese.  Perhaps finishing off with sweet Brambleberry Pie..."
Al: "I think you're spending a little too much time with the rats..."

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I climbed into bed late last night and bundled up under the doona.  While I lay there drifting off to sleep I wondered how many other
people in the world have to check their beds for raisins before climbing in.

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The Grotto Nickname Tune

Nimbus is, of course, "The Beast"
Or "Big Mean Alpha Rat" at least.
Stattles is our name for Stat!
Or Mr Perfect, StattyRat.

Bramble was "Brambleberry"
He's now "Sweet B", or simply "B".
Ramekin is named "The Bear"
Because he's grizzly with brown hair.

RiffRaff loves to climb aloof
And so became "RoofRat" or "Roof"
Motley's a downunder spot
And thus gets "Spotley" "Mote" or "Mot".

Bokeh comes to any name
As long as more food with it came
He's mostly "Boke", although you'll see
He's oft called "Hokey Pokey Okey Dokey Smokey Bokeh"

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A little poem

Here at work I sip iced tea
It's colour reminds me of rat pee
I wonder what my boys are doing
At home, sleeping, gnawing, pooing.

Everything I do all day
Reminds me of them in some little way

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Why are rats such shovers??
If they decide they want to go somewhere and they don't fit, they cram their wedge shaped nose in the gap and shove and shove
and shove until they get through.  Dapper was legendary at this, and now Bramble has taken over the title of Best Shover.
I've often wondered the sort of horrific traffic jams we'd get if rats were allowed to drive.

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Black holes

Ever stopped to have a quick play with your rats and lost track of the time?
Concerned you might be losing your mental faculties?
Always tired and emotionally drained?
Ever wondered where your weeks pay disappears to?

Rats are, in fact, black holes.
They irresistibly suck in all of your energy, time, money, love, emotions and sanity.  You can't fight it.  Just give up now.

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Drive-by groomings

The Grotto is a dangerous place... filled with low-lifes and constant crime.  Drive-by groomings are a daily occurrence.
Yesterday afternoon, Roof was just loitering by the ladder, sniffing the air and minding his own business, when Motley powered over to him, furiously groomed his furry head and then zoomed off, no doubt to do some other anti-social act.
Roof is just one of the many forgotten victims of such heartless alpha crimes. Something needs to be done about this!

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Rats are like cheesecake

Rats are like cheesecake...
They're soft, fluffy and sweet, come in many styles and are wonderfully satisfying. But they always leave you wanting more!

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Happy little vegemites

Ever wanted to see your rat do the "frantic chin wiping along the floor" routine?  Then you need some vegemite!  This stuff is guaranteed to elicit a "frantic chin wipe" response (aka "ickpression" - see The Ratty Dictionary) from your rat.

I recall offering Bramble a little lick off my toast, but he stupidly grabbed a lump of it and, quite pleased with himself, scarfed it down.  Within seconds, his facial expression changed from cheerfully smug to sour lime sucker.  With a "Euuuuuwwww!!!" he was frantically rubbing his chin along The Grotto floor like no other rat I've ever witnessed!!  It was so charming!!

Get some vegemite into your rat!!  And just to prove that rats will actually eat the stuff, here's Nimbus and Statty attacking
my breakfast (stupid of me to leave it on the rat room floor).

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Mission Impossible

I always offer my boys a treat when I get home from work. Makes me feel good to see them desperately excited to see me... I can delude myself into thinking it's for me and not the treats.  Anyway, I offered them a little lick of cream cheese yesterday. I hold the spoon in one hand and let them lick it off the fingers of my other hand.  Of course, having more rats than fingers, this means I have to dish out treats in separate rat batches.  To say they don't appreciate being kept waiting is the understatement of the century.  :&

I opened the Upper Grotto door and was feeding cream cheese to B and Bear first.  The Little Dudes were all leaning precariously over the shelf above trying to get to it... pushing and shoving and chattering and generally looking desperate.  But they can't quite reach down far enough without losing their balance, so B and Bear are generally safe from young furry treat marauders.

Until yesterday.

Roof and Bokeh were frantically leaning off the shelf, but kept overbalancing and leaping back to safety before toppling off.  I look down for a moment at Nimbus and Statty begging for more and when I look back up here's B defending his treat from two avid furry little noses!  How are they reaching over the shelf? I ask myself.  And I look up to find that Bokeh and Roof are parked on either side of the ladder and their tails are ENTWINED behind it... effectively working like a rope anchor so they could lean over further. I was pretty darned impressed!  Their tails were actually wrapped securely around each other several times, like a black and white twisted rope!!!  I could almost hear the mission impossible music playing in the background.  :)

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Mount ratwash

I did the rat wash yesterday and it was very cold last night as I was getting it off the clothes line.  So rather than freeze to death
(what sub-tropical climate?) I simply grabbed all of it and dumped it in the middle of the lounge room for sorting and folding.

Nim and Stattles were out free ranging and thought this mountain of towels and hammocks and fabric was just the most marvelous
new toy!!  Within seconds they were burrowing and before I knew it they'd developed an intricate catacomb of tunnels under Mount
Ratwash.  Each time I lifted off a towel and found a furry form, it would dig further down or scamper into another tunnel.  When I'd
finally finished folding (there was a lot of washing!), I was left with two disappointed furry faces.  I felt almost mean taking away their
fun, but I guess there's always next rat wash day.  :)

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Rampant Rodent Recipe

1 hand towel
1 rat (use more to taste)

Spy rat wandering innocently on floor.
Drop hand towel over unsuspecting rat.
Ruffle up rat madly with the towel like you're drying him.  This should be combined with much rampant tickle talk.
Stop ruffling and watch as rat shoots from hand towel like a missile.
Prepare for next batch as rat will soon return with much fooffery and madness and a penchant for more.

This recipe contains no calories, fat or cholesterol.  Enjoy!

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The Foofferdome

Aunty Andrea made the boys these wonderful foam igloos (see photo), and after using them for a few months now, we've finally given them a name... or at least, Bramble and Statty's one.  It's been dubbed "The Foofferdome".  Let me explain...

Ever since Statty and Roofie had an unexpected major fight, there's been some sort of madness between the pair... they just don't seem to like each other anymore.  Anyway, as their living quarters are separated by a trap door, I often find them "interacting" through the small gap in the door.  Stattles parks himself on top of his Foofferdome and fooffs at Roofie through the trap door crack.  Roofie hops and leaps about above the trap door, ripping up the velcroed-on bedding in frustration and fooffing rampantly back down at Stattles.  This can go on indefinitely... <sigh>

Of course, Stattles being the squishy old buck he is, the foam dome doesn't support his enormous girth and he ends up converting
the Foofferdome into a Foofferbeanbag.  Something Bramble is none too pleased about when he's already inside the Foofferdome.

Note:  Foofferdomes are now available to order from Andrea!

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Treat triggers

Rats are way too intelligent and have memories better than any elephant.  They use this to their advantage when it comes to obtaining their favourite thing in life... treats.  I believe rats plan, develop and maintain treat triggers.  Some examples follow.

Example 1:
If you usually give your rats a treat at 9am, they'll expect one every morning at 9am.  If you're early one day and offer them it at 8am instead, they'll thereafter expect a treat at 8am AND 9am.

Example 2:
If you offer your rats a treat when you get home from work at night, they'll always expect a treat when you get home.  If on the weekend you go out three times, they'll expect a treat each time you get home.

Example 3:
I always give the boys a treat before I go to bed at night, and this is usually preceeded by me wheeling The Grotto back into the rat room for the night.  But rather than just associate bed time with treats, my boys' twisted devious brains have associated the movement of The Grotto with treats.  Now they expect a treat when I wheel them out into the living room, when I wheel them home to the rat room at night, even when I move their cage over a few inches to get behind it to the bookshelf!

And try as we might, we just can't resist their pleading excited faces.  So we just reinforce the treat triggers.  Pretty soon I'll be employed 24 hours a day handing out treats at the cage door.

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The Nuts for Nuts" campaign

Do you have a cage full of boisterous beasts who won't settle down for the day?  Is there loud thumping, ripping or squeaking noises echoing through your home?  Are your rats rattling the cage wire and begging with irresistibly pleading expressions?

Think: "Nuts For Nuts!"

Offer your rats a nut in it's shell... preferably something hard like a macadamia, hazelnut, walnut, etc.  They'll be thrilled to get a special treat, so you'll be appreciated.  AND instead of the loud chaotic racket, your cage will be filled with the soothing sound of nut gnawing.  Ahhhh....

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Workplace Health & Safety

New Workplace Health & Safety rules for the occupants of The Rat Room when cage cleaning is in progress:

You will not present yourself as a fast moving tripping obstacle.
You will refrain from climbing down the shirt of the cleaner.
The rubbish bin is not your dinner bowl.
The cleaning rag will remain in the location the cleaner left it.
You will refrain from climbing up the legs of the cleaner.
You will not try to be helpful.
You will limit time spent being a cute and playful distraction.
You will refrain from playfully nipping the cleaners toes.
If you insist on playing in the empty cage, you will get wet.
You will not pee in nest boxes removed from other rats' homes.
The paper towel roll is not a toy.
You will refrain from leaping unexpectedly onto the cleaner's back.
You will not pee in toys that have just been cleaned.

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The Many Walks of Rat

1.  The Skulk - that low-down sneaky crawl they do along walls when they don't want to be seen.
2.  The Happy Ratty Bounce - that adorable leaping gait they have when they've found a treat and are bounding off with it.
3.  The Swagger - the suave confident stride of a big buck.
4.  The Motley Mosey - that frantic bustling wiggle of a rat with places to go things to see stuff to chew.  (Named after our Manic Motley who characterised this walk)
5.  The Troublesome Trot - that cheeky little comical tip-toed trot they do when they're on their way to mischief.
6.  The Pancake - when they flatten themselves out completely with feet out the side to shuffle under low furniture.
7.  Hopping Mad - the frenetic omnidirectional twitchiness of a rat with too much contained energy desperate to be released.
8.  The Proud Parade - that head held high back arched stance of a rat carry home a particularly large and impressive treat.
9.  The Playful Pounce - that crazy silly hoppiness that overtakes them when in search of someone to wrestle.
10.  The Shove - the determined forward head-butting motion of a rat intent on getting somewhere he can't fit.
11.  The Reversing Shuffle - that uncoordinated backwards fur-fluffing hop-wriggling as they attempt to extract themselves from a place they shouldn't have fit anyway.
12.  The Amble - that relaxed aimless wandering where they stop intermittently to sniff or gnaw something they find every few inches.
13.  The Frantic Flee - that full tilt bolt to safety when a weird noise scares them.

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What every kitchen needs

I love to bake.  I currently have my 6th and 7th christmas cakes in the oven and while they're baking, I'm making up a huge batch of rum balls.  The boys are literally glued to the cage wire, with permanent boggling eyes and desperate pleading expressions.

You see... they're very helpful when cooking.  They're more than happy to taste test new things, lick the bowls clean, clean up any utensils, polish off left over ingredients, etc.  No kitchen should be without a cage full of rats.

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Rat math

Rat mathematics does not work within the realm of normal mathematics... certain normal principles become warped.  I offer an example.

A rat sits in his hammock looking cute... your reaction is a certain amount of "Awwww!" (the magnitude is dependent on your weakness for cute and fuzzy).

i.e. cute = awwwww

A second rat sits beside the first in his hammock and also looks cute.  One would suspect that two cute rats sitting side by side would be twice as cute as just one rat.  (i.e. cute + cute = 2 x awwwww)   But in fact, when rats approach each other, their cuteness interacts in such a way as to multiply their cuteness by a power of magnitude.  So you get:

cute + cute = cute x cute = awwwww (to the power of 2)

I have conducted countless tests of this theory, with the able assistance of Scramble and Grub (they work so well as a team and are nearly identical when sitting in a hammock looking cute).  Can someone please explain this quirk of mathematics?

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Fuzzlet befuddlement

Why do baby rats smell so deliciously good?
How can they be so irresistibly soft and fuzzy?
Why do their whiskers twitch at 2000 miles an hour?
Why do they insist on sticking their nose in every facial orifice you have?
What is their fascination with shirt diving?
Why are they so warm snuggled into your neck?
Where do they learn that expression of pleading?
How can their play switch be turned on and off and on and off and on and off all day?
Why do they fall asleep mid treat?
How can they be painfully cute even when they're asleep?
Why do they wrestle madly all over the place?
How can they be fully functional rats at that tiny size?
By what means do they travel at light speed from where you saw them last to where they are after you've blinked?
How can they eat three times their body weight in a day?
Why do they have little soft plump bellies?
How can they perch on the edge of the bowl without tipping it over?
Why do they play in the water bowl and end up all wet?
Where do they learn to shove their cagemate away from food so they can have it all to themselves?
Why do they look so unbelievably small in a hammock that you can hardly tell there's a rat in the pocket?
Why do they refuse to remove themselves from your sleeve when the phone rings?
Why is it so difficult to name the little fuzzbutts?
What makes them squeak that funny squawk when a big rat sniffs them, even though they're not scared?
Why are they apparently free of the laws of gravity?
What fascination lies underneath towels?
Why must they get everywhere they're not supposed to?
What is so darned interesting in my mouth?
Why am I compelled to kiss their bellies every time I pick them up?
How can their goolies be bigger than their heads?
How long will their tails stay this clean and shiny and new?
Why can't you shut the cage door without one sneaking out?
Why do they inspire New Rat Fever in everyone who looks at them?

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Old toy, new toy

Has anyone else noticed that an old boring rat toy becomes a new fascinating rat toy merely by being placed in a new position?

When I'm cleaning The Grotto I'll place the nestbox out on the floor and within seconds Grub, Scrambler and Wat are inside it.  They'll play in it, sit on it, sniff it all over, scent mark it, groom in it, pounce on each other in the doorway of it, etc.

Come on boys!  It's been in your cage your whole lives!  Why is it so exciting all of a sudden just because it's on now the floor?!

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The Big Sillies

Grub and Scrambler are without doubt the silliest rats we've ever
known.  Not silly as in stupid, but silly as in hilariously funny and charmingly playful.  When they're being all playful and crazily comical we call them The Big Sillies.

The minkies were the most socialised fuzzlets we've ever adopted, thanks to Ann and Emma who obviously squished them constantly from birth.  They were literally all over us from day one... so much confidence and willingness to play with us.  We bonded instantly.  If I need to feel some love, I just visit the minkies.  As soon I open the cage they're out of their hammocks trying to climb down my shirt, or begging for scritches or treats.  Often comically climbing all over each other to jostle for better cuddling positions. 

As ratlets they were incredibly playful and boisterous and energetic and attention-seeking... basically acting like "mad minks" do.  But these two boys have retained that fuzzlet enthusiasm throughout their lives.  Even now, at 2 years and 3 months of age, they run and jump and wrestle and power groom and pounce and do the "happy ratty bounce".  They're so amazingly playful.  We gave them a paper bag the other night and they spent the better part of an hour playing in it.  Wrestling each other inside it.  Pouncing on the bag while the other is inside it.  Chewing Scrambler-sized holes in it.  Scent marking the paper into soddenness.  Poking their noses out of the bag, getting pounced on by my hand so they dart crazily back inside and wrestle again.  We even enjoyed some lure fishing... dangling the beaded string of my bookmark outside the bag until you get a bite and then trying to reel in the big fat mink on the end.

They love to chase things, in particular my bookmark.  If I drag it along the carpet, I end up with a conga line of minkies following it this way and that.  They don't seem interested in it when they catch it, they just seem to enjoy the chase.  They love to hand wrestle.  I lightly ruffle my hand over their heads and they bounce madly away before running back for more.  When they run they bounce... well, Grub bounds along comically, while Scrambler kind of hop-bounces (this may have something to do with the girth of Scrambler).  Almost their entire play time is spent with me.  They prefer to be playing with or on me than exploring the room.  If I leave them even for a minute, I come back to find them loitering at the door, waiting for me, ready to climb back onto my lap.

My tshirt is their favourite place on the planet.  Every morning the first thing I do when I get them out is lean my head onto the bed and the boys climb down my shirt.  They snuffle about, wrestle a little, groom, squirm about ticklishly, and Grub will attempt to lovingly nip my nose (his morning greeting) before I have to tip them out so I can get on with cage cleaning. 

With their ageless playfulness and cheeky charm I find it difficult to believe they're already well over 2 years old.  I cannot imagine them ever getting old.  Or my life without them.  My minky squishes.  The Big Sillies.

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Symbiotic relationship

Scrambler and Lamington share a unique symbiotic relationship in The Grotto... a relationship of mutual benefit.

Lamington is in advanced stages of respiratory illness.  Scrambler offers his comfort, warmth and his squishy body as a pillow for Lammie to lean on so he can breathe easier.
In conducting this service, Scrambler gains access to the endless smorgasboard of delicious high-calorie treats that are offered to Lamington throughout the day.  Something that this particular minky pudge is extremely happy about. 

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Pet hammocks

Does anyone else have a cage full of pet hammocks?!

With the colder weather the boys are snuggling into their pocket hammocks all day.  You can look into The Grotto and not see a single rat!  Just lonely nest boxes, abandoned pots,
desolate shelves and an array of colourful bulging breathing hammocks.  If anyone visits I introduce them to my cage full of pet hammocks.
The only time I see rats is at lunch time, when the smell of my lunch prompts hopeful noses to appear from under blankets or out through hammock holes.

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Perpendicular Universe

The Grotto has suddenly flipped into a Perpendicular Universe!

Noogs and Schnoz aren't the best litter tray users we've known.  I put this down to sheer laziness more than their inability to understand the concept.  Especially with the litter tray on their lowest cage level, which is hardly ever used.  It's placed in a corner, the longest part stretching towards the cage door and is pretty much ignored.

With the slightly cooler weather lately (i.e. no air conditioning on) Schnoz has taken to lying flat out on the shelf in front of the litter tray to catch the breeze from the window.  Seeing him lazing there one day, I decided to turn the litter tray perpendicular to it's current position so that Schnoz would have more room in front of it to sprawl.  When I went to give them dinner that night, to my utter astonishment I found the litter tray full of raisins!  For some inexplicable reason they've decided that they're now going to use this litter tray!  And all
because I turned it perpendicular to it's usual position!  I'd love to know what goes on in those fuzzy little brains of theirs.

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Grotto Pinball

The fuzzlets (Splash, Gecko and Waffle) have moved into the Lower Grotto and are having a ball playing in their new home!  They look so tiny in there though.  I miss having them in the fuzzlet cage on the table, but I'm so proud they've now moved into their real home with Noogs and Schnoz (although not actually living with he older boys just yet).

When they're awake we play "Grotto Pinball"... where three little furballs fling themselves all over the cage, bouncing off the walls with no apparent loss of energy.  We hear crashes as they knock the nest box off the shelf, squeaks as they collide and wrestle, metallic rattles as they climb the door wire, rips as paper towels get dragged along with them, thumps as someone lands in the litter tray and scattering noises as they try to gain traction on the paper pellets to launch themselves again.  I sit there watching in delight as they fling themselves joyously about.  Although the need to tidy up their trashed cage drives me insane, I've learned not to open the cage door during Grotto Pinball or the furballs shoot out and are lost around the room.

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Why, oh why?

Why does Splash smell like warm toasty marshmallows?
Why can't Gecko sit still for even one fooffteenth of a second?
Why does Waffle insist on jumping into the bin over and over
and over again when I'm cleaning the cage?
Why must Gecko squeak all the time during wrestling bouts?
Why haven't I yet been able to exhaust the fuzzlets during their
run time to the stage where they'll willingly go home?
Why is Waffle so soft, laid back and pliable at such a young age?
Why are they all such good rats at using their litter tray, but such
bad rats at trashing the rest of their home?
Why does Sploosh (Splash's latest nickname) love to madly chase
my hand about the floor, but never actually want to catch it when
it stops?
Why does Gecko insist on climbing up the bookshelf and digging
around under the towel I have over my books to keep rats off them?
Why does Splashy wriggle cutely when he runs?
Why would the fuzzlets rather jump out of the cage to play instead
of eat their dinner when I give it to them?
Why is Waffle always the last rat to be nabbed at home time?
Why must Sploosh always leap onto my lap for a cuddle after he's
been splashing about in the pebble pool?
Why does Gecko fly me?  i.e. leap suddenly and unexpectedly onto
the middle of my back and just hang there chattering cheekily.
Why is Waffle petrified of the Wodent Wheel?
Why do they all smell so good when I know they marinate?
Why does Gecko have a relentless fixation with snotty tissues?
Why do I find their exasperatingly naughty antics so adorable?

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The Joy of Fuzzlets

Splash, Gecko and Waffle are without doubt the most enthusiastic, energetic and full-on group of fuzzlets we've ever had!  I mean, we've had mad fuzzlets before, but never three at once!  Usually there's some crazy and some calm to balance them out.... like Bug (mad) and Ilford (calm), or Grub, Scrambler (both mad) and Lamington (calm).  But all three of these fuzzlets are rampantly mad.  It wasn't until later that I realised we have a mink, a dove and an argente... all rats from the Mad Mink line!  What were we thinking!  We know how
challengingly naughty mad minks are and here we've deliberately chosen three at once! 

One wonderful thing about them is that while they're energetic and enthusiastic and hyperactively exasperating, they love to be handled!  You can nab a fuzzlet as he zooms past (if you're quick enough) and he'll stay in your hands for a scritch and a belly kiss!  Place him back on the floor and off he goes again like there was no interruption.  They're also extremely social rats, much preferring to be on me, or following me about, or helping me clean the cage, etc. than be off exploring the room.  This is so endearing, but also exasperating as it's difficult to walk with three fuzzlets climbing up your pant legs.  And cage cleaning in the Lower Grotto is a nightmare!  I've learned to clean with only one hand, since the other is spent repeatedly removing fuzzlet after fuzzlet after fuzzlet from the bin, or from unraveling the paper towel roll, or stealing the cleaning rag, or licking the vanilla spray nozzle, or jumping in the cage itself, or climbing the cage door to "chat" with SchnozGat.  Or all of the above at once, it seems.  <sigh>  At least on the weekends I have my fuzzlet wrangler (Al) to keep at least one or two of them amused while I clean.

When Al comes to the door and snaps his fingers the fuzzlets all run over to the door to see him, enjoying being chased and wrestled about the floor by his hands, or climbing his arms.  They thrive on attention more than any fuzzlets I can remember... or perhaps it's just that there's three of them doing it at once that makes it seem more.  I'm constantly amazed that these guys were rescues and yet are so friendly and confident.

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