Thursday, February 9, 2012


Precocious Daughter wants a pet rat. Actually, she wants more than one. They're social creatures, she says.

Which I guess makes the black plague a social disease.
Beloved Spouse and I are on the fence about this. Actually, I'm on the fence. BelSpouse is several hundred yards away from the fence in case any of those damn filthy rats decide to climb over it.

Hi, neighbor! Borrow a cup of feces?
I'm slightly more in favor of the idea than he is, is what I'm saying. PDaughter's cousin had a couple of pet rats for a while, and once I got roped into taking care of them for several days. After I got over my initial revulsion, and as PDaughter is now very fond of pointing out, I bonded with the little critters. They were cute and funny and affectionate, even if they did have beady eyes and sharp little claw-hands and long, naked tails oh God those scaly hairless tails...

What, this thing? Pshaw, you'll get used to it.
And its clammy supple embrace around your neck late at night.
It's hard for even a rational, educated mind to get over the rat's longstanding reputation as voracious, disease-spreading vermin. For my mind it's even harder. Where I come from, rats weren't pets. They weren't cute. And you didn't give them names like "Snickers." So when I think of a rat, I think of something like this:

Only uglier and approximately three feet long.

Whereas PDaughter visualizes something more like this:

It's adorable until he gnaws the head off that teddy bear.
Now, I know intellectually that the truth is somewhere in the middle.

Rattus norvegicus.
From the Latin for "serve with vegetables."
And I know that other than their name and slightly larger size, domestic rats are no different from hamsters or gerbils or any other pet rodent that BelSpouse and I might be more readily amenable to having take up residence mere feet from our daughter's tender flesh. Maybe it's just the name. Maybe the household variety of rat should be called something else, to differentiate it from the disgusting flea-infested pests whose mere presence causes restaurants to close down and housekeepers to get bad reputations.

Something like "gutterbunnies." Or "scuttlepuppies." Or "Manhattan retrievers."

Or rodenticus Jethrotullicus.
I don't know. PDaughter swears she'll save up the money for the rats and their habitat, and she'll take excellent care of them, i.e., not let the cats gobble them up two days after she gets them. Of course, no matter how happy and well cared for they are, the rats will die after a while - maybe a year or two. And then I'll have dead rats in my house and a daughter crying her eyes out over dead rats.

They don't teach you how to handle this stuff in parenting classes.

OK, I've got diapering down.
Now what do I do about dead rats in the kid's bedroom?
On the other hand, they don't scam, don't fight, don't oppress an equal's given rights. So there's that.

According to noted animal behaviorist Edward Vedder.
I don't know. Rats or no rats? We're going to have to sit down and discuss this as a family before making a decision. In the meantime, however, I've noticed that PDaughter is being very nice to me and volunteering to do all sorts of chores in between her pleas for pet rodents.

So this decision may take quite a while to make, is what I'm saying.


  1. I had pet mice as a kid. I'm pro-rodent. Now, possums, which are just much bigger (marsupial) rats scare the bejesus out of me. To each his own.

  2. loved the manhattan retriever and rodenticus jethrotullicus bits :-)

  3. loved the manhattan retriever and rodenticus jethrotullicus bits.

  4. i had two pet rats. they were the best pets i have ever had. they are SO sweet and they love you. theyre not mindless either. they really love you as a parent and they have such distinct personalities. i hate how misunderstood they are. they are such sweet loving creatures and they deserve more than they get. please have an open mind before you go insulting something that hasnt done anything to be insulted for. in a way, its like judging them based on race. but this time species. thanks

  5. I say go for it! It doesn't hurt to have pet rats. They're actually very lovable and sweet creatures. I've never personally owned a rat (am looking into getting one now, though) but my friend owned them and he took them everywhere he went sometimes. They have collars and leashes just for them and when they're scared, they would try to climb up his leg and crawl under his hair on his neck and shiver. It was just too cute and too sweet to think anything evil of them. I've known many people to have pet rats and I've never heard one bad thing about them in the entire time. The domesticated rats have an unsavory rep only due to its wild counterpart, and shouldn't be penalized for such a common misconception. Give it a try, I'm sure you and your daughter alike would be very happy with the decision in the end.... and hubby can take some time getting used to it. ;)

  6. Your daughter is very smart to want a pet from a breeder rather than a pet store. I say on that grounds alone, she deserves to have pet rats. If you look up "rat tricks" on youtube, you'd be surprised to find them behave like little dogs, fetching balls, turning on command, etc. Besides, the rats weren't carriers of the Bubonic plague, but rather the fleas were.


You're thinking it, you may as well type it. The only comments you'll regret are the ones you don't leave. Also, replies to threads make puppies grow big and strong.