Of Rats and Jen (Inactive)

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

Ten Lessons Learned by Ralph, Norton, and Foster Mom at Five and a Half Weeks

Filed under: Mainely Rat Rescue,Rats! — folkcat at 7:43 pm on Monday, September 22, 2008

1. A tissue box makes a good fort.

Ralph can guard the front door…

…while Norton keeps intruders away from the rear.

2. Light colored rats’ colors can come in more strongly as they get older.

Ralph is showing a definite white patch on his chest now, making him a beige Irish like his brother.

Norton’s overall color is still darker than Ralph’s, and his white patch shows more distinctly.

3. In any case, getting held up to have your belly photographed is very undignified. Take a moment to regain your composure.

“When in doubt, wash.” – Paul Gallico, The Abandoned*

4. Hands are a good thing. They mean skritching, cuddling, and food.

Ralph and Norton say, “We’ll come running anytime a hand is offered, it means something good!”

5. Many such things that come with hands are impossible to photograph with only two of them, or you’d see a picture here of us cuddled in bliss with our heads being skritched.

6. Norton is not camera-shy.

“I’m ready for my close-up!”

7. Ralph has a healthy appetite.

“Just let me finish this snack, I’ll be over in a minute.”

8. Tickle-chase is a wonderfully fun game.

Foster Mom’s fingers wriggle at our sides and make us all squeaky and popcorn-jumpy. When we can’t stand it any more, we run away, then run right back because it’s so much fun! She can’t jump straight up in the air like we can, but she throws bedding up and we get all excited about that, too. Then we jump on each other and have a good wrestle before we start all over again. Too bad it’s another one of those things you can’t get a picture of with only two hands!

9. All in all, life is pretty darned good.

We have food, shelter and treats. We have a foster mom and dad who love us, play with us, and cuddle us.

“Now if we could just get down off this table, we could conquer the world!”

10. The only thing we don’t have is a forever home. We’re sure there’s one for us out there – is it yours?

You know the drill – if you’re interested in adopting Ralph and Norton, or seeing who else might be available for you to bring home and love, just visit Mainely Rat Rescue!

In a side note – little Lucy and Harriet are both available to adopt again! They’re okay, just that another pair of girls who were more in need went home instead of them. Their new foster mom will be putting pictures up soon at Net-Net’s Nest – meanwhile, you can check out the previous photos there and consider them for adoption, too.

* This is a quote usually about cats – the book The Abandoned is about life among stray cats. But rats have many cat-like qualities, including cleanliness and a sense of dignity.

Without Exception

Filed under: Announcements,Blog Admin — folkcat at 4:26 pm on Monday, September 22, 2008

Any and all e-mails that I receive that are politically themed will be deleted without reading. This includes forwarded newsletters, statements of support for any candidate or cause, and even humorous material about the campaign or politicians.

I realize that politics is part of life. But I consider it a highly personal and private matter, and not one for discussion.

A Brief Announcement

Filed under: Blog Admin — folkcat at 6:47 pm on Friday, September 19, 2008

This blog is a little over three years old, which means this is the first time I’ve had it during a major election year. So I think it’s worth pointing something out.

You will notice that there is no category for “Politics”. This is not a political blog. I am not a political person. I have no intention of ever discussing politics on this forum, beyond this current post.

I will do my duty as I see fit, and that’s all you need to know.


Filed under: Mainely Rat Rescue,Rats! — folkcat at 2:42 pm on Friday, September 19, 2008

There, I’ve done my bit.

I know I’ve been silent this week. Not much happening, to tell the truth.

Net-Net went home to her owner last Friday. The seven adopted babies moved on to their next foster homes on Sunday. I’ve had a report back that Alice and Ethel have made it to their final adoptive home yesterday, a 13-year old boy in Maine who already has one girl who needs company. Alice and Ethel are a perfect choice, they’re both friendly and eager to meet new companions.

Ralph and Norton are still with us. They’re five weeks old now, and can go to a good home anytime someone says, “Me!” They’re adorable, they love playing tickle tag with your hand. You wiggle your fingers around in the cage, and they come running under your hand to get tickled, then they run away quick and repeat the whole process. Ralph is the real cuddler, when you open the cage door he’s the first to come climb on you. He likes to tuck under your chin. Both he and Norton love getting snuggled and having their head and ears rubbed, they go into teeth bruxing bliss.

The “Perma-Ratties”, as the regular colony of furkids has come to be called, are doing well. Lily and Laurel have matured enough for Leo and Yuri to really like them, if you get my drift. (Nudge-nudge, wink-wink, say no more!) Lola is getting old enough that there’s some white on her muzzle now, but she’s in good health for a rat of 19 months. She and the little girls get along well enough, though occasionally there will be a little squabble when she feels she has to remind them that she’s the Matriarch here. All is quickly forgiven, though, and followed up with mutual grooming sessions.

There would be pictures today, except that I’ve been busily handling e-mails and phone calls regarding a new situation. We’re going to be adding two more fosters to the household today. Because they get so many requests to take surrendered rats already, it’s not inside Mainely Rat Rescue‘s normal scope to answer ads on Craig’s List, but they’re kindly supporting me on one that I took the initiative to contact yesterday.

A young woman – a girl, really – in a nearby town was given two pet rats as a so-called “joke” by a friend. She can’t have pets where she is, and doesn’t have the means to take care of them even if she did. Right now, these rattie girls are being kept in a clear Rubbermaid-style storage container. It’s only been a few days, but still, that’s a few days too long for that kind of housing.

Luckily, though young, this girl is responsible enough to know the rats need a real home. She posted on Craig’s List, and I’m making arrangements to collect the rats later.

Just one more example of how stupid some people can be about pets. This girl’s “friend” thought so little about rats as living beings that he used them as a “joke”. (I hope to learn more about the nature of the joke later.) The poster says she’s given her friend “a ration” about the “joke” – I told her I hope she never lets him forget it.

I also thanked her for being responsible enough to do what’s right for these rat girls. There should be no trouble finding a new home for Rita and Rosie. They have features that make them highly desirable “designer rats”. Both are grey in color – one is a self, one a berkshire. And both appear to have Dumbo ears and curly rex fur.

There will, of course, be pictures of the new girls as soon as I’m able. And once they’ve been settled in and carefully evaluated, they’ll be available for adoption through the Mainely Rat Rescue site.

I hope you all have a good weekend. Take a little time to give the animals in your life an extra hug or two, and if you can, help out your local shelter or pet rescue. Expenses are rising every day, and it just costs them more and more to help those animals in need.

Ralph and Norton – Cuddly and Handsome

Filed under: Mainely Rat Rescue,Rats! — folkcat at 2:16 pm on Friday, September 12, 2008

The foster babies turned four weeks old yesterday. Net-Net, the foster mom rat, has gone back to her owner this afternoon. We also took the babies along in a separate carrier so Rebekah could meet them – when she turned the family over to us, the ratlets all still looked like little pink and gray grubs. As she exclaimed joyously today, “we made rats!”

Sometime in another week or two, the seven babies that have been spoken for will be moving on to their new families. We’ll miss them all so much, but we are very grateful that we’ve had a chance to be an important part of their growing up to be friendly, healthy rats.

At last word, the two boys, Ralph and Norton, are still looking for a forever home. These boys are a cuddly, sweet pair who would make anyone happy! Just take a look.

Ralph at Four Weeks

Ralph has become a strong, husky boy with pink eyes and wavy beige fur.

Ralph, His Brothers, and Ethel.

If Freestyle Sleeping were a Rattie Olympics sport, he’d take the gold medal. That’s Ralph’s nose and feet sticking up in the center of the rat pile – he clearly knows exactly how to stay comfortable and warm.

Norton at Four Weeks

Norton is a sleek-furred, dark-eyed, handsome boy with a single white stripe on his chest. He is intelligent, confident, and curious, with a calm demeanor. Once he figures out the latest puzzle – such as, “Where are the edges of this table, and can I get down?” – he settles down calmly and washes himself until the next puzzle comes along.

Norton and Ralph – Best Buddies

Like their namesakes on The Honeymooners, Ralph and Norton are as different as can be – but still the best of buddies, banding together in the face of uncertainty. That big ol’ cat back there doesn’t frighten them, so long as they have each other!

This picture shows the difference in their eye colors well – that’s dark-eyed Norton on the left, and pink-eyed Ralph on the right.

Norton Washes, Ralph Tries to Reach Me

When not seeking comfort from each other, both Norton and Ralph have figured out how to deal with new situations. As I said before, Norton figures it all out, then sits down to wash. Ralph, on the other hand, already knows that all good things come from people, so here he’s trying his best to come to me behind the camera.

What Does the Future Hold?

A happy, loving home, I’m sure! Ralph and Norton are a wonderful pair of cuddly buddies. Do they belong to you?

If you live in the New England area and are interested in adopting Ralph and Norton, please visit the Mainely Rat Rescue website. Just fill out the Adoption Application at the link on the sidebar, and let them know you’re interested in our boys. Or look around at all the other available animals, and see if someone else wins your heart – there are plenty of furry little friends to go around!

Change is Gonna Come – Oh, Wait, It’s Already Here

Filed under: Blog Admin,Mainely Rat Rescue,Rats! — folkcat at 2:23 pm on Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Some of you will already have noticed this, but I did, in fact, change the name of the blog over the weekend. “Crafting Jen” is now “Of Rats And Jen”. The crafting will still be here on occasion, but really, it’s been all about the rats for a while, hasn’t it?

I promised new photos of the babies last week. Since then, Gryphon and I have been experiencing a bit of a life-quake – reality shaking us up and making us a bit unsteady on our feet – so I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. Let’s see what I’ve got in the photo album, though.

I should warn you that I took these pictures last Thursday, and the babies are growing even faster than you can imagine. Net-Net herself is so petite for an adult rat, and the babies have gotten so big, when they gather to nurse their combined mass must be at least three times her own. It’s quite a sight, and it’s always accompanied by massive squealing as they jockey for position.

At this point, I’m very happy to announce that all but two of the babies have been spoken for! Only Norton and Ralph remain. I have no doubts that they’ll find a good home, too – they are both affectionate, quiet ratlets who are already into the male rat trait of sleeping hearty!

The Snooze Pile

That’s Ralph sacked out on his back, paws in the air, with his brothers Norton and Ricky snuggled close. The unidentified female in this shot may be Ethel – she’s got darker eyes than the other beige girls.


Alice is quite a snuggle bunny, always the first to climb into your hand.


The beige ratlets all have pink or red eyes. Ethel and Norton are the only two who have a single white stripe on their chests, and they both have the darker eye color.


Norton is enjoying odd places to sleep all by himself. We give them some fruits and vegetables every day in a small plastic crock, and after it’s empty, Norton can usually be found curled up in it. Or maybe he just wants to be first when second helpings come around?


Ralph has a naturally chunky build, accentuated by his curly rex fur.


Ricky is a great explorer and first to investigage anything new. He’s being adopted by a woman in Maine as a companion for her boy who recently lost his cage-mate.


Lucy seems shy here, but she’s as outgoing as the rest. She accidentally made it to the floor the other day (and was quickly rescued), but I think she liked it, because she jumped off my hand again Monday wanting to explore.


Laura was named for Laura Petrie on the Dick Van Dyke show. The character, like Mary Tyler Moore who played her, was a dancer, and was sometimes seen performing or rehearsing in a black leotard and tights, sometimes with white gloves. Our Laura looks here like she’s practicing her own dance steps.

Harriet (in mug) and Trixie

Harriet and Trixie are two of a kind, but can be told apart by the shades of their fur. Trixie is a bit darker, both in the beige main color and the paler underbellies.

What’s Next for the Nest?

The foster counselors at Mainely Rat Rescue say I’m doing so well with the babies that Net-Net, the mother, can go home to her owner this coming weekend. Rebekah, if you see this message, please contact me – I’d like to collect her carrier from you so we don’t have to transfer her between cages when we meet.

The boys will be going to a new foster home this week. In another week, Ricky will move on to his forever home. So will Ralph and Norton, if they’ve been spoken for. But they’re such sweethearts, how could they not? If you think you’d like to adopt them, and you’re in the New England area, drop by Net-Net’s Nest at MRR and apply.

The girls are all spoken for, but will stay with me one more week for further socialization and to be sure they’ve weaned well. We’ll miss them when they go – I can’t tell you how close we came to adopting Alice and Ethel ourselves – but I’m very happy that Mainely Rat Rescue has found such promising situations for them.

Just to Clarify

Filed under: Blog Admin,Mainely Rat Rescue,Rats! — folkcat at 4:29 pm on Friday, September 5, 2008

When I mentioned yesterday that I was thinking about changing the blog, I didn’t mean opening a new one, moving some subjects to a different blog, or anything like that.

All I’m thinking about is changing the decor here, and the blog name. Same location, just re-dressed to better fit the things I write about these days.

Crafting Jen was conceived as a crafting blog, first and foremost. Although the name can also have the double meaning that I referred to – the concept of crafting myself – a crafts blog is still the primary perception. Since I’m not really interested in blogging about my crafts anymore, at least not to the extent I always have of multiple incremental progress reports and such, I no longer feel what I’m doing here is a craft blog.

The current front-runner in my head for a name change is “Of Rats and Jen”. It brings in the Ratties, but still leaves me wide open to anything I want to write about. And I like the literary play on words.

Baby pictures soon, probably over the weekend. Or you can get a sneak peek here: Net-Net’s Nest at Mainely Rat Rescue. They’re three weeks old and looking more adorable than ever!

A Dee-Luxe Apartment In The Sky

Filed under: Rats! — folkcat at 5:32 pm on Thursday, September 4, 2008

Lest you think I’ve forgotten the permanent Rattie family, here’s a little update about them!

If you’ve been here a while, you may recall that the Ratties live right next to where I spend my day sitting. They are literally within a few feet of me at all times.

And here’s what it looks like from my chair.

Jen's View

Pretty convenient for Rattie play time – they just come out of the cage door to a pile of pillows on the chair arm, and then to my lap.

With the addition of Lily and Laurel, however, the cage you see above, which is large enough to hold three rats, became inadequate. But we couldn’t afford a new cage. What were we to do?

We built up!

As seen from my chair, this is the new, 6-story tall, Dee-Luxe Rattie Tower. We took some 1/2-inch hardware cloth, put it on top of the main cage, and cut a hole through. Then we secured the body of our smaller cage on top, and added a wooden birdie ladder.

When the assembly was done, all five Ratties made a dash for the upper levels. They were thrilled with the new space! Each one of them, too, had lived in the smaller cage at one time or another, so it was a familiar place for them.

Yuri and Leonardo have quickly adopted the penthouse as their favorite snoozing spot.

While the girls are enjoying the freedom to pile up as they wish, without having to make room for the boys.

What you can’t see in that picture is that, somewhere under Lily and Laurel, inside the purple fabric, is Lola. Actually, I think you might be able to see part of her. Look at Lily’s ears (she’s the blond at the top), and follow a line straight down from them, past Laurel. You’ll see a small patch of gray fur peeking through a hole in the fabric. That’s Lola!

It’s already evident that the crowding they’ve been going through has been stressful, and that they’re feeling a relief now. They still ask to come out and play, but not as often, and not with such a desperate look on their faces. And Lily is showing signs that the change has made her ultra-comfortable in our home. Every time she comes out now, she begins an endless series of grunts and low chirps that are getting louder and happier sounding with time.

Blog Changes?

It’s become clear to me that I seldom want to blog about my crafting any more. Yet, here I am with a blog called “Crafting Jen”. I know it’s meant to have double meaning – not only a reference to what I craft, but to the notion that any life is essentially lived in the crafting of yourself as a person. Still, I keep thinking it needs to change, but I don’t know what to change to. Any thoughts? I don’t think I want to go all rattie, even if they do seem to be the major theme these days.

Coming Next

New foster baby portraits!

Random Cuteness from Net-Net’s Nest

Filed under: Mainely Rat Rescue,Rats! — folkcat at 3:40 pm on Monday, September 1, 2008

Sometime on Saturday, a great cosmic energy switch got flipped, and the babies started looking and acting like actual little rats! The little buggers are into everything – here are some random moments from Saturday, Day 16. As always, click through for a larger view.

Solid Food is Good

The babies are eating dry kitten food as if they’ve never had a meal in their lives. They are also enjoying the Bob’s Red Mill 5-grain mix, minced up fruits and vegetables, soy-based baby formula, and baby oatmeal.

There’s Fun in Numbers

No surprise, really, but they do still like gathering in piles.

Your Siblings Make a Comfy Pillow – Even if They’re Eating

And apparently, both sleeping and eating can cause eye-closing bliss.

Climbing is Fun!

Alice (top) and Laura seem to think that more height is better. All the little ratlets have been climbing just as enthusiastically as these two. They’re even getting into Mom’s hammock – which makes it very hard for her to escape! We’re going to try moving it further from the walls.

There’s a Whole, Wide, Wonderful World Outside the Cage.

And we want to explore it all, now!

But There’s No Place Like Home – And Mom’s Free Dairy Bar!

When all is said and done, it’s Mom they still come home to!

Inspired to Bring Some Cuteness Home?

Four of the little girls are spoken for already! Once they’ve weaned, Lucy and Harriet will be going to a home in Maine; Laura and Trixie are headed for Massachusetts. That still leaves the girls, Alice and Ethel, and all three boys, Ralph, Norton, and Ricky.

If you’re interested in adopting any of Net-Net’s babies – or any other rats available through Mainely Rat Rescue – just visit one of these links: