Of Rats and Jen (Inactive)

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

Something About Lola

Filed under: Books,Rats!,Shopping Adventures — folkcat at 1:23 pm on Monday, July 23, 2007

Hope you all had a great weekend! I had … quite the roller coaster ride, I’d say.

My copy of Harry Potter arrived in the mail on Saturday, as expected. I had precious little time to even glance at it, though – Gryphon and I had plans to go shopping.

We originally wanted to look at one-level cages for Star, but she has actually been doing so much better that we decided we could hold off on that a while.

We did go out to look at cages, but more to assess what’s available in the local stores. We know that when we add more rats to the family, we’ll have to have a larger cage – the one we have now is only just large enough for two.

Knowing, too, that the big-box pet stores often have small animal adoptions, we decided to keep our minds open. Finding a pet by adoption can be such a hit-or-miss thing. We wanted to make sure we were mentally prepared for the concept that the right rat might present itself at any time.

It’s a good thing we were prepared. We had looked at cages at PetSmart, and moved on to Petco. Petco is actually the store that often has adoptions available – it’s just hit or miss if they’ll have rats, and what the rats will be like.

We looked around at the small animal section at Petco, and didn’t see anything going on. Just the usual tanks of store stock rats, hamsters, and such. We knew that some of the stores put the adoptions back by the pet grooming salon, so we wandered back there. Nothing.

At that point, an employee noticed us and asked if she could help us find anything. I said, “Did you have any small animal adoptions today?” To my surprise, she said they did, indeed, have a female rat for adoption, she was right up by the small animal department. She led us up to the area we’d already looked over, and to a fish tank we’d completely overlooked.

Lola Plays Peek-a-Boo
Lola Plays Peek-a-Boo

Inside was a small, grey-colored rat with large ears. The paper attached to the end of the tank said this was Lola, a 5-month old Blue Dumbo female. Blue is the color – it’s like the cats that are called Russian Blue, but are really a bluish-grey color. Dumbo is a variety of rat specially bred to have larger ears that are placed low on the side of the head. Like Dumbo, the elephant.

The store clerk said, “She’s skittish, and a little nippy.” We were told she’d been born in the store – which surprised us. This Petco only has Pink-Eyed White (PEW) rats, because that’s all the breeder that supplies them offers. We didn’t ask, but surmised that she must have been part of a litter born to a rat surrendered to the store for adoption.

The lid to the cage was lifted, and Lola began running around the bottom, excited. I reached in a hand, and she grabbed hold of my fingers with her little hands, and began nipping all over. Not an “I’m going to bite a chunk out of you” or an “I’m going to show you to ever put your hand near me again” type of nip. Just enough pressure to find the boundaries of your fingers with her teeth, that’s all. She was getting to know me.

I lifted Lola out of the cage, and she climbed around my shoulder for a moment before insisting on going back. Another good sign was that she didn’t poop little rat raisins while I held her – that’s a typical indication of a fearful rattie.

Gryphon asked if she came with a cage. Yes, there was a cage we could have with her for an extra $5. That’s in addition to the $5 fee to adopt Lola. The tank was closed up again, and we were shown the cage in a back room.

The final test was to re-visit Lola, and see how she reacted to Gryphon. When the lid was opened again, Gryphon’s hand got the same all over tasting that I’d had. And then, Lola saw me leaning over the end of the tank, and leapt up to climb my shoulders again. She didn’t stay long – she jumped back down in the tank immediately. But she repeated the leap to my shoulders and the jump back to the tank several times. Clearly, she was as interested in us as we were in her.

That was the end of any waffling. Any rat who, kept in a pet store for five months, still displays such an eagerness to be with a human being – she deserves a loving home. Plus, she was cute as anything. We paid the fees, bundled her into the cage to be brought home, and began the drive back to Wilton.

Eager Lola
Eager for Attention

On the road home, Lola continued to show an amazing calmness for a pet-store animal. She spent the entire ride on the middle shelf of the three-level cage, at the front corner that gave her the best view of Gryphon and I in the front seats of the car. Heck, she even did something I’d consider unheard of for the situation – curled up and went to sleep in the moving vehicle!

Since Saturday, Lola has been living solo in her cage, which we set alongside Star and Sable’s cage in the living room. She is consistently eager for us to pay attention to her, and loves coming out of the cage to climb around on me. We have a current favorite game, too – I wave a tissue against the outside of the cage, and she grabs at it and pulls it through, then adds it to her nesting corner.

We’ve allowed small interactions between the rats. At first, the highly-energetic Lola seemed to irritate Sable no end – Lola would try to play-fight with her, and the two would end up chasing and boxing in a clear attempt to establish dominance.

No one got hurt, though, and this morning, each rat got a turn exploring in the other’s cage. Sable and Lola no longer fought for dominance – instead, they just acted like two rats in the same cage, each trying to do their own thing. Okay, so Lola’s thing continued to be seeking attention from Sable. But Sable was less irritated, and even stopped a couple of times to groom Lola a little.

As for Star, since she’s a slow-moving girl these days, her interactions with Lola have been somewhat less than Lola with Sable. Still, there was a moment Sunday when Lola was inside the Rattie Sister’s cage, standing on the doorframe, watching Star work her slow way up the ramp. Lola reached down, grabbed the skin on Star’s leg, and pulled gently. Was she helping her in? I’m not sure, but she didn’t appear to be trying to hurt her, and Star didn’t get upset.

Now that we’ve established that they can live together peacefully, our next hurdle is to come up with enough money for a cage that will hold all three rats at once. We’d build another like we did for Star and Sable, but with Gryphon working two jobs, there’s no way he has time to do it. And the hardware cloth shaping is a bit much for me to cope with. Yeah, I could do it, but Gryphon can do it more skillfully. The local PetSmart actually has a cage that would do, and fit the space we have available. We just have to come up with $130 to get it.

So the budget crunching begins. It’ll be hard, but we’ll find a way. Meantime, just take a look at the pictures, and try to tell me Lola isn’t the cutest rat you’ve seen in a while.

Oh, and I did finish reading HP7 last night. All in all, a satisfying end to the series, I think! But ‘nough said about that, I know not everyone has finished yet. You won’t find spoilers here!

6 Comments

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Comment by Elinoire

July 23, 2007 @ 4:03 pm

A friend who knows I am a rat fan sent me the URL for your blog. I had no idea stores like Petco (or, frankly, any stores at all) did the adoption thing with small animals like rats — that’s great! Lola is adorable and it just made me really happy reading about how you guys all found each other. 🙂 Congrats on the new family member!

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Comment by sarebear

July 23, 2007 @ 5:30 pm

How great is that, you rescued her from living alone in a store! That’s cool that they’ll take rats in to put out for adoption.

When I read your sentence about it being a roller coaster ride at the beginning of the post, I feared the worst for Star. Thankfully, not yet.

I’m glad Sable became able to tolerate the newbie, and even groom her a little; I don’t know much about rats, but that sounds like a great sign to me!

You know, it amazes me and doesn’t at the same time, that animals seem to be able to sense stuff about others’ well-being. You see this all the time with dogs; they’ll curl up with a child who is not feeling well and be alot more patient than usual with a baby (some pets, depending on temperament, and intelligence of the breed; it happens often, though; cats too!)

So Lola seeming to wonder or be curious about Star’s leg, or help her . . . that’s cool.

I didn’t know cages could cost so much! Not that it’s an unnecessary expense, they need a good home with room for activity!

That game you play with Lola sounds so cute; sounds like she’ll fit right in, there.

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Comment by AlisonH

July 23, 2007 @ 11:02 pm

She’s adorable!

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Comment by jen.

July 24, 2007 @ 2:15 am

SO. CUTE.

Seriously. That is one very adorable rat. I am surprised at her friendliness; she must have known that you and Gryphon were ‘rat people’ and that you would be the ones nice enough to take her home!

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Comment by Laughingrat

July 28, 2007 @ 11:52 am

Congratulations on adopting Lola. She sounds like a sweetheart. Dumbos seem to be so extra-playful…wonder if it’s a genetic trait or just a coincidence?

I’m sorry to hear about Star. Is she all right? I haven’t been able to keep up with blog-reading as much as I’d like, so I’m out of the loop. 🙁 Does she have a tumor, or a respiratory infection, or what?

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Comment by Janet MacDonald

May 16, 2009 @ 7:01 pm

I know it has been a couple of years since you posted this blog about Lola, but I fell in love with that little darling as soon as I saw her! You are one lucky couple to have adopted such a lovely little rattie as Lola! I’ve written a story about some wild grey rats, titled: Rat Island. My little grey rats look just like Lola, but they are wild, and I was lucky enough to meet them on a wild bit of land near my neighbourhood. I was wondering if you still have Lola? I read that pet ratties live for about 4 years. Is that right?
I was just wondering what country you live in. I live in British Columbia, Canada. If you like, could you e-mail me? I’d like to hear more about your wonderful little ratties.

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