Late last month, I bought myself a pair of female rats from a local pet shop. Now, I know what you’re thinking; “EWW! WHY RATS?!? They’re gross, ugly and disease-ridden!”. Not true! While I entered the store that afternoon with the intention of buying hamsters, I was surprised to learn that the type of pet I was searching for was NOT a hamster. I told them I wanted a low-maintenance, friendly, cuddly and playful small animal, which is what I thought a hamster would be. The “rodent expert” of the store informed me that hamsters do not fit that description entirely. Apparently, they’re usually quite solitary, tend to bite a lot, and aren’t all that playful with their human owners. That, and they’re not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed.

I was a little upset at this realization. Was I being too picky for my companion-to-be? No, because I was then told that rats, of all rodents, possessed the exact attributes I was looking for. I have to admit, at first I did think to myself “Rats!? Those are… unusual pets.” – which I learned after some research is not true. Nowadays rats are being adopted by families as pets almost as often as hamsters, rabbits and guinea pigs. – Slightly reluctant, I took a gander at their rat selection. Upon seeing them looking intently at me through the cage, almost as if they were saying “Pick me! Pick me!”, I did realize that they were kinda cute. A couple choice rats were picked out for me to hold. The first was a shy little thing, refusing to move in my palms. She obviously wasn’t the rat for me. Then I took a second rat, with a body of white fur and a head of darker grey fur. This one was much more lively. She sniffed my hand, crawled around my forearms a bit, then started licking my fingers with her little tongue. These were VERY good signs of a social, contented rat. This is this the first rat I chose as my companion, whom I eventually named Lola, based off a character in one of my short films. 😉

As I was told, and as my later research confirmed, rats don’t like living on their own. I was recommended that I purchase a second rat to keep Lola company. Later in the day, I purchased Chleo. I was in a rush to beat closing time, so I didn’t spend as much time gauging the rat’s behaviour. Chleo was cute and seemed somewhat lively, so I handed them my 6 bucks and went on my way.

Unfortunately, Chleo later turned out to be an unfitting pet. While Lola took a mere two hours to bond with me, Chleo was still terrified with my presence even after a week. She would spend what seemed like all day cowering in the “hidiehouse” I bought them, completely terrified of me, Lola, and her environment. Either she didn’t like me, or there was something seriously wrong with that rat’s little mind. I was forced to make a tough decision: Exchange Chleo for another rat. It was better for both of us this way. She would be back in the home she had grown accustomed to, maybe even find a new owner she could appreciate, and I would have a more suitable second rat.

That’s when I found Cocoa, a slightly smaller rat coloured white with than spots. She was less active and “lovie-dovie” than Lola, but certainly much more than Chleo. Cocoa is the fighter, and Lola is the lover. A good contrast. They seem to love each other. They groom each other, sleep together cuddled in a furry little ball, and they love to play together. I couldn’t be happier with my decision to adopt these rats, and I couldn’t have asked for a better pair of companions.