Hi, hi – it’s me, Sasha! As you know Thursday is blog day, and today we’re going to take a closer look at pet rats.
Eeek! You might shout at seeing one. We do this because of the bad reputation rats have. Because they are scavengers when it comes to diet, street rats are prone to picking-up various diseases that come from unsanitary environments like dump-sites and sewers. Many years ago they carried the plague, a disease that infected thousands of people. While they were somewhat immune to it, a bite or even the excrement from a plague-infected rat was deadly. To this day some folks still see them as being dirty, mean and disease-spreading, and some people will climb-up on a cupboard or hang onto a chandelier just to get away from one, should they see one in their house! Hah!
Rose wrote a book called ‘Peter and his Friend, Peanut’. The book is the third in Rose’s ‘Don’t Tease me About my Teeth’ series, which is a series that aims to empower children who are teased about their teeth. Of course, rats don’t have sparkly white teeth. Instead, their teeth are more brown or yellow in color because they contain high levels of minerals that keep them super-strong for gnawing.
Kids can have brown spots on their teeth, too, even though they brush and floss everyday. The reason for this is that they may have ingested more fluoride than they need, either through their water or by swallowing toothpaste with fluoride. It could also be that these teeth have these spots for reasons that not even the dentist knows. The good news is that there is always something the dentist can do to take care of the teeth.
With all this in mind, let’s take a look at some fun facts about pet rats.
1 – Rats are very social creatures and prefer to live with other rats. It’s been proven that, like us, they become depressed without interaction with others.
2 – Rats will always help other rats in their group (mischief) who are injured or sick, bringing them food or helping them to move to a safer place. This shows concern which, until discovered, was always thought of as a human-only emotion.
3 – When rats are happy they make tiny sounds that can be likened to human laughter! They will also chatter their teeth and even act completely silly like a clown when they’re excited.
4 – Rats are very clean animals, but are misunderstood much like pigs are. A rat will spend several hours a day cleaning and grooming their coat, whereas some people don’t even bath in a day! Pigs will wallow in mud to rid their bodies of parasites – when the mud hardens the mites stick to it, then all the pig has to do is scratch them off. Here we see how easily animals can be misunderstood, just because their bathing routines are not the same as humans’.
5 – A rat’s tail is not ‘just a tail’! They use it for balance when climbing and ‘tight-rope’ walking. They also use it as a way to communicate, by flicking it or sending shudders through it – a little like a dog. They also use their tail as a body temperature regulator, leaving it exposed when they’re warm, then tucking it closer to their body when they’re cold.
6 – In India rats are worshiped for being the body chosen by the Indian Goddess known as Durga or Karni Mata, or a person’s ancestors! In fact, they even have their own temple which you’ll see in this video by National Geographic. For this reason they are protected and, of course, found everywhere because the people believe they are the presence of this Goddess. Below you’ll see a group of them being fed milk in a large bowl at the Temple of Rats in India.
7 – Rats don’t have very good eyesight. Instead, they use their whiskers more than any other organ in their body to feel, interpret, and determine their surroundings.
8 – Rats are true adventurers at heart, which is why most people who keep them as pets have elaborate cage houses built for them. They love to explore and build and are great swimmers, too!
9 – Rats are noted for their one very special trait which not many humans have. This is their desire to share. In most cases rats will share what they have with the rest of their group (mischief); they’ll even share with their human owners.
10 – Rats have outstanding memory, which is why they are so often used in laboratories for experiments in psychology and medicine. Sadly, being used for experiments is the price they pay for being as intelligent as they are. Let’s hope one day that only people will be used for ‘peopley’ experiments, not always the animals.
For fun, take a look at these most awesome pet rat images on Pinterest!
Well, now that you know a little more about rats, whether one you’ll see in the street or one you can adopt from a pet rat rescue center, you’re hopefully a little less frightened or ‘grossed-out’ by them than you were before you read this!
Note: Of course it is always important to remember that all animals try to defend themselves in the presence of predators. Because humans are theoretically a predator to rats, you should never – under any circumstances – attempt to pick-up a wild rat. It could be ill and, in defending itself from you, it could spread its illness to you. Prevention is better than cure!
It’s also important, as we go through life, to do our best to stop generalizing. People do this too often, and in doing so they follow only what they are told instead of investigating truths for themselves. And thanks to Peanut, Peter’s rat friend, Peter was able to learn that the brown spots on his teeth were not from dirt but rather from minerals or excess fluoride. Had Peter only listened to the bullies – why, he might have scrubbed all the enamel from his teeth in trying to brush way too hard! Hah!
Until next time, keep smiling,
Peter and his Friend, Peanut.