January 09, 2005

Such cute little vermin

Ah, into each life the unexpected must fall, and when you have a 10 yr old who loves animals, those falling things tend to be warm-blooded and furry with cute little faces.

Case in point: Progeny has been asking for a ferret for months. The Grandparents take her with them for their daily mall walk, and when they go to Castleton Square mall across town, they always take Progeny into the petshop to see the puppies. Sadly and frustratingly, puppies are not the only beasties they sell in this place. They also have what are typically called by the trade "small mammals" or "small critters" and this catagory includes ferrets.

I am not a ferret fan. Sure, they have cute little faces if you like that beady-eyed weasel kind of thing. Yes, they are frisky, as they move with a gate something akin to "Anaconda Meets Kangaroo Jack." Of course, they can be litterbox trained, as long as you provide a litterbox in each and every corner of your house. Certainly, they groom themselves and they are clean, and as long as you have the musk glands ripped from their bodies surgically they don't smell much. But I'm still not a ferret fan.

But Progeny just would not take no for an answer. She sent various letters to Santa over the course of the Christmas season asking for a ferret, but specifying that it needed to be deposited at Gramma's house instead of at our house. She went into the petstore at every opportunity in an attempt to cajole the underpaid teenagers at the cash register to just let her buy one for a riduculously low price and throw in the cage and other ferret essentials just because she was such a cute and sweet young child pre-teen. She offered me, of all people, her entire savings as a bribe to let Santa drop one off at our house, and given the financial situation at the Manse Montezz, that was a difficult one to pass up. But I did. I'm her mom. I had to be strong. But it still hurt to turn down that bribe.

Needless to say, Santa did not stop at Ferret Island to pick up the sweetest and most loving ferret in the world for Progeny. For this alone, I owe Santa some rather kinky favors over the next year.

Progeny took it in stride. She understood that she wasn't going to get a ferret any time soon, but she still wanted something sweet and cute and cuddly to pet and carry around and burden with a crazed, juvenile name. The cats and the dogs just were not enough.

Enter Dumpling and Cecily.

While we were in the Petsmart getting grub for the Wonder Dogs, Progeny went looking vainly for ferrets. None could be found, but there, in the bottom tank of the Small Critters section were a pair of young female "small domestic rats" with black heads and shoulders, white from there back, and a stripe of black down the centers of their backs. I looked at them, they looked at me, and something terrible happened, something that Spousal Unit to this day does not believe happened, something completely against my rodent-o-phobic tendencies: I asked to hold one.

The Critter keeper reached into the tank and selected the rat that walked over to her. She picked it up, carried it out of the small, shack-like thing within the Critter area, and handed me this rat. It looked at me (it had blue eyes, by the way), I looked at it, it wiggled its whiskers at me (to which I could not respond in kind because I had tweezed that afternoon), and then crawled up and sniffed my chin.

We had a moment, this rat and I, a moment from which I have yet to recover. My mind raced, my heart pounded, and the little rat literally snuggled itself between my hound-dog-ear breasts and curled up in my hand...

The cage sits on my kitchen table. The cats are obsessed with Dumpling (Progeny's rat) and Cecily (my rat), and Spousal Unit is having a really rough time dealing with the idea of "vermin" inhabiting our house as guests and not as prey for the felines.

*sigh* Yes, I have a bandaid on my knuckle now from a fear-bite, but they're just babies (8-10 weeks) and they haven't been handled enough, to that's the price I have to pay until they are socialized better and understand that I'm not the boogie-mama.

Any rat tips? I could use them. I'll post pix when I get around to it.

Posted by Mamamontezz at January 9, 2005 10:29 PM


I do have a female Ball Python that measures 6 feet in length.

She could easily take care of the "vermin" in one sitting.


SlagleRock Out!

Posted by: SlagleRock at January 10, 2005 12:15 AM


such a cute story, yet kinda eeeekish. Never seen a rat with blue eyes before.

Can't wait to see the pics.

Posted by: emma at January 10, 2005 12:59 AM

But, of course.

Check out:

I also handled thos critters for eleven years in my prior life. They continue to grow as long as they live, so I hope you bought a big enough cage.

I could not be certain about the sex of "Dumpling," but I hope it is a "she," lest you wind up with lots of little rats. (The pups are seriously cute, but plentiful.)

Posted by: Jim - PRS at January 10, 2005 01:57 AM

I hear they taste just like chicken.

Posted by: ec at January 10, 2005 09:02 AM

The Modulator does the Friday Ark for critters of all kind. (This week's is here: http://themodulator.org/archives/001575.html) You should submit this!

Posted by: Omnibus Driver at January 10, 2005 12:15 PM

Once, whilst young, I had raised pet rats on the farm, found them to be a clean animal, intelligent and better than a cat at keeping the mouse population in check. They need chew things to gnaw on. Enjoy the new pet, they're fascinating. Remember the movie "Willard"?

Posted by: Jack at January 10, 2005 12:25 PM

ec and slaglerock, manners! They're Mama's pets. Sheesh!

Congratulations, Mama Montezz! It seems you had an epiphany somewhat similar to mine. I held a rat and she looked at me and I at her, and I could see there was someone thinking back there. They're a lot smarter, cleaner, and fun than people think. You can toilet (poop only) train them; rats do like to mark their possesions, and you are included as a possesion. Boys more than girls, but still. Fortunately, rat pee won't give you anything a bar of soap won't cure.

You might, indeed, need a bigger cage, but rats do *not* continue to grow as they age. Or, rather, the can grow *out* if you feed them too much, just like with people. I've got one Monster Fat Rat who weighs about 1100 grams, which is definitely more than double what he should weigh. Anywhere from 400 to 600 grams is preferred, but Calle loveslovesloves eating.

The worst thing about rats is their relatively short lives...about 2 1/2 years is average. OTOH, as a mother, this might work to your advantage, if Progeny grows bored of taking care of a pet, which sometimes happens with kids.

Posted by: Victor and his seventeen pet rats at January 11, 2005 09:09 AM

They sound like Hooded Rats to me, and those make fine pets. I had one for about 5 years. He had a set of nuts the size of golf balls.

Posted by: Acidman at January 11, 2005 09:23 AM

I hear they make a passable stew if you are starving. And not a bad target if confined to a smal space. Also good for honing a cat's killer instinct.

Posted by: DavidHoltz at January 12, 2005 03:21 PM

No, EC, they taste more like squirrel. If things don't get much better around here, they just may end up in a stew..."honestly honey, I don't know HOW that cage door got open, the cats must have got them". "another helping of stew?" Hmmm cats...maybe THEY taste like chicken? Braised or Broiled?

Posted by: delftsman3 at January 13, 2005 06:33 PM

Actually I always thought cat tasted a little like monkey. Dog on the other hand is kind of like horse to me. All this food talk has me hungry.

Posted by: davidholtz at January 14, 2005 10:55 AM

oh, I hope you don't become too addicted - you'll end up with 50 of the cute little critters before you know it.

Posted by: liz at January 17, 2005 04:24 PM
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