Monday, June 13, 2005
On Rats and Hot Sauce...
While researching the makers of a hot sauce called, get this, "Rat Sauce", I came upon Rat Sauce a website dedicated to everything rat related. This of course, is the instigator of this little we-blog. Rats and hot sauce... what more could one ask for?
Let me introduce you to the stars of masses of horror movies specifically designed to perpetuate the myth that rats are horrific critters deservous of naught but destruction.
Rats as animals have been blamed for the black plague and have been long vilified, and unfairly so, I might add. Were one to do their homework, they would learn that it wasn't the rat that caused or carried the plague, it was actually the Oriental Rat Flea which spread its horrific disease by taking advantage of the rat's mobility. But it's not like that... Rats make great pets; they really do.
Of course, I just know you're sitting there thinking, "What? You're nuts! A rat? Why would anyone in their right mind want a rat as a pet?"
And the answer is simple. They are fabulous pets.
They are very clean, (although I've heard that this can be a personality trait and that there are slob rats out there). They are exceptionally intelligent critters. They are fun to play with and much like a dog, they can be taught tricks and to play games with you and they will interact with you quite readily, especially once they think you're part of their pack.
Rats can fit through a hole no larger than a quarter. They are so agile, they can scale brick walls as though they had rungs. So athletic, they can swim half a mile, and tread water for three days. Their powerful jaws can gnaw pipes and cinder blocks with chisel teeth that exert an incredible 24,000 pounds per square inch. Rats have been known to survive being flushed down a toilet, and can even enter buildings through the toilet pipes, the list of their exploits and abilities is endless. Because of their neverending curiosity, search for food and ability to get at it, once found, they are considered to be one of the most destructive mammals that ever lived.
Watch out if you are going to breed rats, though, because, they are so prolific that a single mating pair can easily produce 15,000 descendants in a year. Not one to worry about breeding my pet, Ralph, was a solo rat. He lived alone on my dresser in a rat habitat, which is essentially a very large, elaborate hamster cage built entirely out of metal. He had a swing, a running wheel, (which he much preferred napping in to running in). He had an old ceramic boot, rescued from an aquarium that he used as his hidey hole and a margarine tub which he filled with shredded tissue as his bed. (When I cleaned his cage, I would give him an unopened box of tissue and he would shred this and arrange it just the way he liked it in the margarine tub.) It was quite something to watch.
As a personality, Ralph was really cool. I'd come in from school and he'd immediately jump up to say hello, hanging from the cage top by one paw, pawing at the latch with the other, until I brought him out to play. He was quite cuddly and loved to snuggle with me. He would give kisses and when I was puttering about he'd sit on my shoulders, his tail curling about my neck. He liked to nibble on sunflower seeds, (the hulls of which, he'd deliberately toss down my shirt). He also loved fresh vegetables especially sweet peppers, which makes me wonder, would he have enjoyed habaneros as much as I do? Some relationships end far too early -- sigh. One weekend at a party, Ralph discovered the pleasures of beer. After that he liked to get drunk and laze on my head. Sitting on my shoulder, he'd poke his snout between my lips and the bottle to suck the beer out of the bottle as I would pour it into my mouth. I loved how that grossed some people out! Come to think of it, I wonder if Ralph ever felt the hangovers that I experienced after those parties? You'll be pleased to know that, although I did at that age, Ralph never smoked. He would hide when I pulled out my lighter. Either he didn't like the flash of its lighting up or he was afraid I'd singe his whiskers; which were suprisingly long.
I really enjoyed my stint as a rat owner, and for someone looking for a new pet, rats are a wonderful option. So long as you can get past the stigma of the wonderful critter actually being a "rat". With 20/20 hindsight, I don't recommend getting one for the purposes of making them your drinking buddy. I think that as a species they have a tendency towards alcoholism; not to mention that their livers are much tinier than ours and they probably don't live so long as they could otherwise. What can I say, I was a wild and crazy kid who didn't know any better and who had no concept of my own mortality, never mind that of Ralph.
is Beebop. Beebop appears to me to be a variegated satin rat. Beebop is very similar to Ralph. Beebop is just one of a large variety of pet rats that can be found at Rat Sauce.
Rat Sauce is run by a fellow named Matt, owner of Beebop and an entire Rat Pack! I only ever had one rat in my life so, I can hardly imagine what having a pack would be like; although I did have a slew of gerbils at one time; but in retrospect, comparatively, gerbils are dumb pets, not dumb in the sense of unintelligent, but dumb in the sense that if one didn't need them to feed their pet snakes, I've no reasonable idea why anyone would ever want one. That said, Matt has gone to great effort to introduce people to the joys of having these rodents as their pets and with contributions from other rat owners, his is a definite site to check out in the event that one is looking for a new pet that is out of the ordinary.
Rat Sauce includes sources for the animal, games and toys that will appeal to our little rodent friends as well as referrals for qualified vets and a forum to discuss the joys and stresses of rat ownership with other rat owners.
I suppose I should throw in a caveat about rat ownership at this point. And that is, if you're going to delve into the ownership of a pet rat, don't do it with the wild rattus rattus that your uncle caught rummaging through his pantry. Wild rats are prone to bacterium and disease; read "Oriental Rat Fleas!" and thus are not meant to be domesticated. Instead, see a professional breeder or at the very least, a quality pet store; one that will guarantee their animals. Rat Sauce has links to breeders all over North America and beyond.
Get a rat. You'll be pleasantly surprised; not to mention the fact that they're great fun to have at parties.
Tina Brooks, Confessions of a Chilihead
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