In January of last year, my partner surprised me with a pair of (what he called at the time) baby rats to add to our tiny one bedroom apartment (first mentioned in this post). I wasn’t super excited about the adoption since I hadn’t had any experience with rats at the time and I wasn’t sure what it would be like to have two small rodents running around. My partner wanted rats because they’re supposedly the smartest of the rodents and we weren’t about to adopt another dog to add to our already two dog collection (and look at us now with two rats, one cat, and three dogs!)! Michael and Quentin are classified as Dumbo Rats with their name inspired by the Disney cartoon due to their large round ears. Dumbos are usually friendly and outgoing and they need to be with other rats for their social personalities. Michael and Quentin came from the same litter and they live happily together as sisters, playing and fighting like other pets. Michael and Quentin used to hide in their cage and bite us when we tried to pet them, but we started taking them out of the cage at night and their attitudes toward us completely changed! They’re much more social and playful and they love coming out and running on us, my partner’s keyboard, our floor, chairs, and anywhere they can get. We give them treats and lots of pets during play time and their behaviors are quite similar to that of dogs or cats—I like to call them my pocket puppies!
Now that we’ve had Michael and Quentin for around one year and a half, we’ve experienced the highs and lows of pet parenthood with so much joy and scary moments in abundance. A few months ago, we discovered one large mammary tumor on Quentin’s stomach and a couple of tiny ones on Michael’s. Because the tumors grew suddenly and rapidly, we took them to the vet where they each had surgery to remove the tumors. The surgeries were quite expensive even with an extremely kind discount—who knew surgery on two rats would cost $1,000?—and the recovery was just as difficult. My partner and I had to give Michael and Quentin multiple doses of antibiotics and pain medicine through a syringe every day and we had to make sure Michael was using the bathroom regularly since her tumor could have impacted her urinary tract. Thankfully they both recovered fairly quickly, but shortly after the surgery, we found several more tumors on each of the rats again. Our vet informed us that surgery removals can often trigger additional tumor growth so we knew they would potentially have tumors again, but it’s been quite the journey of understanding that these medical issues are part of the rat lifespan. Most rats live around 2-4 years and Michael and Quentin are coming up on the 2 year mark in November (I will cry when they age!!!). They are such silly, rascal, nosy, sweet rats who are the best pets I could’ve ever asked for. I love holding and kissing them and their faces every day (even though they both hate it); observing them destroy their clean cage my partner makes for them; seeing them stare at my partner while he does work at his desk; and watching them eat all of their favorite foods like hard boiled eggs, peas, blueberries, mango, and watermelon (they are quite literally their mother’s daughters!). Rats are the best pets ever and I can’t wait to continue watching Michael and Quentin as they grow up!