Tag Archives: Rodent

Mouse about the house

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Hello sun-seekers 🙂

You might recall me introducing you to a cute fieldmouse that shares our new garden with us. Yes?

Well that same little bundle is almost entirely tame now! He’s grown a bit bigger (but not much) and he sports a beautiful golden coat with smart stripes.

Handsome striped fieldmouse

Handsome striped fieldmouse

Continue reading…

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Can you name these rats?

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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?

Rat #13

Rat #12

Rat #11

Rat #10

Rat #9

Rat #8

Rat #7

Rat #6

Rat #5

Rat #4

Rat #3

Rat #2

Rat #1

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!

Zest

World Rat Day 2013

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It’s World Rat Day! Time to spare a thought for these intelligent, adorable and badly misunderstood creatures.

Rat meme courtesy of Ratanooga.co.za

I’m counting celebrating today as part of Goal #78 on my 101 things in 1001 days – celebrate five obscure holidays. Except that, of course, celebrating pet ratties is hardly unusual for an owner-slave like me 🙂

Rat owner meme courtesy of Ratanooga.co.za

Rat owner meme courtesy of Ratanooga.co.za

Some fun rat facts you may not have known:

  • Pet rats or fancy rats come with a range of coat types and a wide variety of coat colours.
  • The collective noun for a bunch of rats is a ‘mischief’.
  • Some rats have large, low-set ears called dumbo ears – which really adds to their ‘squeeeee!’ factor 😉
  • Rats in general have very bad eyesight, while pink- and ruby-eyed rats can barely see more than a blur.
  • Pet rats are very clean creatures, conscientiously grooming themselves and others (and even their humans!) throughout the day.
  • Ratties can’t burp, but they do get the funniest squeaky hiccups sometimes 😀
  • These rodents can collapse their ribcages if needed, to squeeze through spaces much smaller than you’d imagine possible!
  • Rats use their long, scaly tails (which for some reason many people seem to find gross) as a cooling system, because they don’t sweat. Makes me wonder how the bred-to-be-tailless rats cope in the heat…
  • Rats use their sweet little hands, which don’t have any thumbs, to grip food and scoop water. And apparently researchers have found that most rats are right handed.

If you haven’t yet acknowledged the cute side of rats, here are some of the most adorable pics of our present and past rat babies (all pics courtesy of their respective breeders)…

Our current girls Flea and Coffee looked like this at eight days old:

Baby Flea

Baby Flea

Coffee as a bub

Coffee as a bub

When their eyes open they become even cuter! Here are the girls with two of their other sisters. Flea is the tiny black one, of course, and Coffee is the girl on the far right.

Tiny girls ready to explore

The breeder of our previous boys, Scribble and Muesli, also sent us a few pre-purchase pics so we could choose our rats:

Two weeks old

Two weeks old

Four-week-old nunus

Four-week-old nunus

From these pics it’s tough to not to fall in love with pet rats and recognise that they can be just as beautiful and lovable as any kitten or puppy.

But if you’re still not convinced, allow me to introduce you to the heroine of rat lovers everywhere: Ellen van Deelen.

Grab a cup of tea, make sure no one is around to hear your inevitable ‘Awwww!‘s, and check out her rat photos here.

Ellen’s incredible pictures shoot straight to the heart of what it means to love a rat. She shows them in anthropomorphic but natural poses with a variety of bite-sized props, and captures their expressions and personalities perfectly.

Resistance is futile 🙂

A tribute to our old furbabies

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Coffee and Flea weren’t our first ratties, although they are the only females we’ve had. Before the girls, we had the amazing pleasure of living with Scribble and Muesli, our squishy agouti husky rats. This is a little tribute to them…

Our beautiful boys, Muesli and Scribble

Scribble

Scribble was Ninja’s rat, named after a beatboxing technique. As he grew we came to call him ScribblyBall, BallyBall and Mr Grumpy 🙂 He became an enormous rat, weighing 700 g at the end of his life!

Like most husky rats, Scribbly started out with dark markings and faded over time. Here’s a picture of him taken in the first week he came to us. He was little enough to balance on the plastic food bowl without tipping it over.

Scribble when he was still a small ball

We flew Scribble and Muesli up to Johannesburg from their breeder in Cape Town. To this day when we tell people that, they can’t believe their ears. ‘You would fly a rat across the country?!’ But people do it all the time for bigger pedigreed animals, so why not for our bubs, who were just as pedigreed? Jo’burg has a conspicuous lack of official breeders.

Anyway, one of the strangest things we’ve noticed while owning rats is the way they seem to reflect some of our personality quirks. For example, both Scribble and Ninja’s current rat, Flea, are similar to him: they’re both peaceful, quiet homebodies who love their food and make relatively few ripples in the pond 😉

Big boy

Big boy

Scribbly was a sweet boy, but he was known as grumpy because he preferred being in his cage to exploring. When he was out on a run, he’d always make it very clear when he wanted to go home. And sometimes he had a look in his eye that seemed to say he was just tolerating our fussing until he could go back to eating and sleeping!

Cute Scribble

Cute Scribble

But he was also an affectionate ratty, and loved to nibble our hands gently when we stroked and scritched him 🙂 He outlived his brother Muesli by a few months, and was still with us when we brought Coffee and Flea home. Scribble developed a growth of some sort on his shoulder, but he didn’t make it through the op when the vet wanted to remove it 😦 We buried our big boy next to his brother in my parents’ garden, and we still miss his solid presence in our lives.

 

Muesli

There’s no doubt about it: Muesli was my ‘heart rat’. I absolutely adored that ball of trouble, and yet in the end I learnt that I should have loved him even more…

Muesli Mousie

My Muesli Mousie

I called this little guy many nicknames, including Muesli Mouse, Silver Surfer and Kamikaze Rat. In the pic above, you can see his size relative to a cornflake he’s eating. He stayed a bit smaller than Scribble all along, weighing 600 g when full grown. Like Scribbly, he was an agouti badger husky rat, and his coat also faded over time.

Muesli was action, trouble, mischief. He had a gleam in his eye that made him seem like he was always up for adventure. Of the two, he was by far the most affectionate rat – both towards his human family and his big brother. He was forever leaping before he looked, squeezing into spots he couldn’t get out of, squeaking his opinion and living life to the full. At one point he went blind in one eye, but it didn’t affect him at all. (That’s where he earned the nickname Silver Surfer, because the blind eye looked like it had a silver disc in it.)

Muesli looking sneaky, nibbling a rice cake in my desk drawer

Muesli looking sneaky, nibbling a rice cake in my desk drawer

Oddly enough, Muesli and any my current girl Coffee seem to reflect certain characteristics of my personality too, just as Ninja’s do for him. Muesli and Coffee have a lot in common: they’re both very affectionate, very noisy, cheeky and ‘opinionated’, slightly cooked in the head (falling off things, not looking where they’re going, and generally being ridiculously uncoordinated), beautiful and utterly lovable 🙂

Muesli is the ratty in my Gravatar

Muesli is the ratty in my Gravatar

But remembering Muesli always brings me pain as well as joy. The pain comes from the fact that I’m sure if I had known better at the time, I could have saved him from his horrible death. With each set of rats, we learn more and more about their proper care. And if I’d known more about mycoplasmosis at the time, I might have reacted quicker to the sudden deterioration in my boy’s health. If only I’d read up more; if only I’d rushed to the vet sooner; if only I’d known about the many preventative measures we could have taken; if, if, if…

It broke my heart to have my precious boy put to sleep, but I vowed then that I’d learn as much as I can for each new set of ratties, and that I’d never again dither so long before going to the vet. We buried our beautiful Kamikaze Rat in my parents’ garden, and will never forget him.

…oOo…

Loving ratties is not always easy. They’re considered exotic pets, so there’s a greater responsibility to understand them before owning them. It’s been a learning process for us. Sometimes funny, sometimes painful. Not always easy. But definitely worth it.