On Friday our beautiful boys turned one year old. Hard to believe they’ve gone from tiny, hairless bubs to fat, fluffy adult rats so quickly. To celebrate I decided to act like the crazy rat lady I am and throw them a little party!
This is how I start every day: with a view of four furry backsides radiating happiness around the breakfast platter.
Before I’ve rubbed the sleep from my eyes, usually before I’ve greeted my still-dozing Ninja, and long before I’ve started cooking my own breakfast, I – dutiful rat-slave that I am – obey the following silent-but-deafening hints:
So I blow them a sleepy kiss and slop off to the kitchen to mix up baby porridge with their flavour of the day. The flavour may be Ensure (a healthy meal-replacement powder), a dash of cinnamon, a tiny sprinkling of cocoa powder, a squeeze of honey or if they’re really lucky, a spoon of coconut milk.
Then I make the ‘click’ sound for my little Pavlov’s ratties and they leap into action, arranging themselves around the plate with their backs to me: ‘Thanks Mom, we’ll take it from here.”
When we treated our boys to leftover prawns, I got a few shots of Mishka’s mad method of eating the seafood without holding it in his hands:
Hehehe. Ah man this rat melts my heart! 🙂
Our rats are on a see-food diet: if they see food, they eat it! On occasion, that diet includes actual seafood too 🙂
I’ve mentioned before how much they enjoy salmon, and the other day we treated them to something even more decadent: prawns! Or, to be more accurate, the leftovers of Ninja’s prawn dinner. We washed off most of the lemon butter sauce, but Ninja left a little meat in the shells for the boys.
We started by waving the bowl of prawns in front of the cage to tantalise our pets (who looked ready to leap into the bowl!):
Of course they each grabbed a piece as soon as they could…
… and scurried off to their separate corners to chow down 🙂
It was an absolute feast, and so quiet in the cage except for the sounds of contented nibbling. Afterwards I collected a handful of squeaky-clean, transparent shells.
Here are the before and after shots:
You know, if you’d told me a few years ago that I would one day be happy to wash a pile of cold, half-eaten prawns and feed them to a mischief of ravenous rats, I would have thought you mad.
Now you can be the ones to think me mad, how’s that?! 🙂
Remember these little guys?
Well, six months later they’ve grown into four very handsome young adults:
‘Moonymoonymoonbeam…!’ I call out, and there comes a blazing streak of black and white dashing towards me 😀 Moon is the littlest boy in our bunch, but weighing 440 g is still decent for a male rat. In the four months he’s been with us he’s earned lots of random nicknames, including ‘Opposite Rat’ (for always being awake when the others are sleeping) and ‘Pliable’ (for accepting pretty much whatever cuddling you subject him to). He’s my second favourite ratty 🙂
Oh dear, poor Voddy! We have a bit of a tumultuous relationship, he and I, because I get fed up with his senseless biting of my Mishka’s ears He still picks on Mishka daily (his favourite time to strike is when the helpless dumbo is sleeping), but when he’s not being divisive he’s a really cute rat. He’s also very smart and the quickest to learn the few tricks we’ve tried teaching him. Ninja has a special place in his heart for this rat; we often joke that we should swap so I can call Moon mine and he can have Vodka! But of course they all belong to both of us 🙂 Vodka is our second biggest rat, weighing 500 g.
Ah Knight, the little gentleman 🙂 The pose in the pic above is typical of Knight’s polite, if-you-don’t-mind-I’ll-have-that-tidbit-now kind of attitude. He weighs 480 g at the moment, and feels so solid and well muscled in our hands. If you think you can resist the cuteness of a black rat, it all changes when those adorable white socks are clinging on the cage bars and begging for a run! Sometimes we still call him Tiny Tot even though he isn’t anymore, and I also call him our little Black Roof Rat 🙂
Awww Meeeeeshka! He weighs 520 g now and has carved out a cosy nest for himself in the middle of my heart 😀 He seems to slowly be outgrowing his reticence during free runs, but occasionally we do still see him peering cautiously around a corner as in the pic above 🙂 His attitude in the cage with his brothers is gentle, though he enjoys a good scuffle like the rest of them – and his policy for dealing with upstarts is simply to sit on them!
I’m very pleased with the progress our boys have made. They’ve all been neutered and Vodka and Knight recovered from the infections they got from the ops. They’ve all gained weight at a good rate and so far they’ve had no respiratory issues. At six months they’re officially mature, and it’s hard to believe they’ve already experienced about one quarter to one fifth of their expected lifetime.
Looking ahead, I hope that we can start taking one or two of them on short trips with us, as I’ve heard many rat owners do successfully. I also plan to add vitamins to their diet this year, and to keep up the regular clipping of their nails (that’s always fun!). As you know, Moon and Knight won prizes in our rat club’s first online rat show last year. In 2014 the club is hoping to host their first live show, and I’d really love to enter our boys in that competition if possible 🙂
And now enough blogging about the bubs… time for me to go clean their cage and give them that free run they’re begging for!
This may not be true to the Chinese zodiac, but 2013 has certainly been ‘the year of the rat’ for me! I laid to rest two beautiful girls (Coffee and Flea) and got four handsome new boys to fill our home.
My understanding of these sweet fancy rat pets has deepened over the last year, and my love for them has grown. And you, my dear readers, have borne the brunt of my strange obsession!
I’m sure you didn’t expect the Sunshine Scrapbook to turn into such a rodentcentric blog; neither did I. But this small spot on the web is where I share all the bright, beautiful, sweet and fluffy things that bring joy to my life – and rats just happen to tick all of those boxes 🙂
For a bit of fun as 2013 comes to an end, here are 13 famous rats you may or may not know… How many of them can you name?
Did you get them all? Check your answers below:
#13 – This is a Banksy rat, one of many clever rodents painted by British graffiti artist Banksy. (Photo credit: Unknown/Banksy)
#12 – I don’t know its name, but that’s an Ellen van Deelen rat, of course! If you want an overload of ratty cuteness that can’t be matched, google the excellent photography of Ellen van Deelen. I bet every rat owner wishes they could take such amazing pics of their bubs… (Photo credit: Ellen van Deelen)
#11 – The 11th rat on my list is Hector, a dapper little astronaut sent into space by the French in 1961. (Photo credit: RedScharlach.tumblr/Original unknown)
#10 – This guy won’t make much sense unless you’ve watched the kiddies’ TV show Bananas in Pyjamas. That’s Rat-In-A-Hat. (Photo credit: Bananas in Pyjamas wikia)
#9 – Now this face you must know! Arguably one of the most famous fictional rats around: Templeton from Charlotte’s Web. (Photo credit: Paramount Pictures)
#8 – Yup, that’s a gathering of rats at the Karni Mata temple in India, where tens of thousands of so-called kabbas rats are fed and venerated and allowed to run rampant. Gross, gross, gross. And that’s coming from a rat lover! (Photo credit: Wikimedia)
#7 – The artwork is so distinctive, I’m sure you knew that that fat rat is Beatrix Potter’s Samuel Whiskers 🙂 (Photo credit: Beatrix Potter)
#6 – Booger the dog and Kitty the cat wouldn’t have been the hit they were if they hadn’t been topped by Mousie the rat (admittedly, there were several different Mousies over time). This famous trio or animal pyramid was the brilliant idea of a man named Greg Pike. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
#5 – It’s Ratbert, of course. Ratbert the Consultant, co-worker with Dilbert, Catbert and Dogbert. Hehehe 🙂 (Photo credit: Dilbert wikia)
#4 – His jacket probably gave it away if you didn’t know which rat this was: it’s Rizzo from the Muppets. OK, so I learnt that from Google myself… I’ve never watched a Muppets show in my life! (Photo credit: Muppet wikia)
#3 – The only wise and feisty rat sensei out there: Splinter from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
#2 – If you think a rat can’t change the world, think again. HeroRATs are trained to do life-saving work such as landmine detection and tubercolosis detection. (Photo credit: APOPO/Wikimedia Commons)
#1 – Oops, I cheated: #1 is actually four rats – my very own fantastic four 😉
Have a happy New Year everyone! See you in 2014!
You know, of course, that my beady little eyes are always hunting for any cute rat-themed merchandise 🙂 Well, recently I’ve added two great finds to my ratty collection, which have helped me reach my Goal #53 (that’s in addition to my beautiful rat teapot and Cheddar soft toy). I don’t foresee an end to this collection, but I think I can happily cross off the goal from my list now.
First, I discovered that despite what I think of Halloween, the supposedly scary day can be useful for bring ratties onto the shelves! I unearthed this black plastic rat in the shops as a leftover from Halloween:
It’s really quite pathetic how they tried to make him all beastly, as though you’d ever find a real black rat with red eyes!
I took pity on the poor critter and brought him home. After a good coat of gesso to prime him nicely…
… I painted him to look like Mishka!
What a difference! It just goes to show: put a fancy coat and a cute face on a rat, and suddenly it’s no longer a horrible scary monster 😉
I still have a bit of work to do to finish off the details on his face and tail, but I have already painted a white spot on the back of his head, just like Mishka’s:
(I call that Mishka’s ‘kissy spot’ because when he hangs his head over a ledge or comes within my reach, that’s the spot I kiss to bits!)
I named this plastic rat Loki, because he was meant to be the dark bad guy, but throw in a bit of shape shifting he’s actually just funny! lol
The other item I snatched up was this wonderful metal coat hook:
Isn’t that perfect?! I found it at Kamers vol geskenke in Pretoria, but you could swear it was made for me.
The whole contraption fits over a standard door, with the ratties’ tails forming the hooks:
Call me simple, but this stuff just makes me really, really happy! 😀
From what I gather, this award is to celebrate those bloggers who are inspirational and/or ‘up and coming’. Plus, there’s a list of questions to answer and ask in return.
So here are my answers to Busy Darling’s questions:
1) What is your earliest memory? – Running to my dad, crying, because I had a thorn (an especially nasty one called a ‘dubbeltjie’ in Afrikaans) stuck in my foot. I must have been about 2 years old, but I can remember the sunlight on that day and the hope that my dad would fix me… which he did 🙂
2) Describe your natural environment. – A very green leafy suburb in Jozi.
3) What is your pet peeve? – Uh, I hate to admit it, but I actually have quite a few ;-P Fake people. Small talk. Crass jokes. Blasphemy and swearing. Et cetera 🙂
4) What is your favourite colour? – How can I choose?! I L–O–V–E colours 😀 It’s probably easier to list the colours I don’t like: ochre, olive green, drab browns and reds. Other than that I love all bright, cheerful and preferably neon colours!
5) What is your maybe-one-day dream car? – If it ever worked out, I would love to drive a restored version of the OLD Fiat 500 (not that new overpriced modern one).
6) And your keep-on-dreaming dream car? – Without a doubt, the Audi R8. In lime green and black. Ahhhh yeahhhh!
7) Name 3 items of clothing that define your style. – I used to have an awesome style all my own but I guess I kinda lost that somewhere on the way… But 3 items that have stayed with me since those days are my funky hat covered in badges, my bright orange beanie and my collection of random jewellery.
8) Do you have any scars on your body? – Yes I do… and my ratties keep adding more (especially during their bathtime when they’re desperately trying to escape the water)!
9) What inspired you lately? – The discovery of customising your own Moleskine diary/planner. Where have you been all my life?!
10) What was your last awkward moment? – Now that I think about it, it’s actually been a while. Great stuff for someone who only opens her mouth to change feet…
11) What was the last thing that made you smile? – The funny way rats groom so fastidiously. It’s as though they try to pull their ears into their mouths to wash them! It results in some funny expressions, as Vodka and Mishka model for us below:
Here are my nominations:
And here are my questions:
1. What’s your main reason for blogging?
2. Three favourite flavours?
3. What’s the funkiest thing you’ve ever done with your hair?
4. Where was the last holiday you took?
5. Favourite pet?
6. What do you enjoy most about Christmas?
7. Who’s your role model and why?
8. One dream you think you’ll never realise?
9. Do you use a diary or daily planner?
10. What are your three most cherished possessions?
11. When last did you do a random act of kindness?
Thanks once again Busy Darling!
It’s offishal: rats love salmon!
Recently our boys got a taste of smoked trout ribbons and salmon fish spread. (I know, they eat better than some people do. I feel bad about that sometimes. For a second or two. It’s not as though withholding a treat from my bubs will magically feed someone somewhere – it wouldn’t feed anyone at all, considering the tiny amounts it takes to please these guys…)
Anyway, they went crazy for the fishy treats, and I managed to snap a few pics of the fun 🙂
Those smoked trout ribbons were their best treat so far, but on a separate occasion I mixed some salmon fish spread with brown rice and veggies for their supper. That was gulped down just as quickly:
Footnote: Just so you know, rats are only allowed high-protein treats once in a while, and even then only in small samplings. Too much protein can cause their skin to become very itchy and scabby, almost like an allergic reaction. Under normal circumstances a pet rat only needs about 10% of its diet to consist of protein, and definitely no more than 18%. Our rats have almost no protein in their staple diet, so treats such as these once in a while are fine. And as with human diets, variation and moderation are vital 🙂