(Get it? Race - rat... aw, never mind)
Unfortunately Cortez and C.S. (veterans of the Cinema Insomnia cast), my CA-to-FL traveling buddies, have gone on to their reward. So has another CI alum and the best rabbit in the world, Hopper.
(That's not a slam against subsequent rabbits that have also crossed over - 27 fine conejitos in all...)
Rats are the best of pets for sullen, mangy urbanites - Inexpensive, responsive, smart, and off to Rat Heaven within 2-4 years. My herd is ovo-lacto (actually, they'd be pure vegans if they didn't get so freakin' excited at the scent of cheddar cheese. This is a rare treat, a couple times a year, 'cause they have enough health problems already just living under my roof) and they're way too discriminating to eat anything even vaguely resembling rabbit pellets, which is more than I can say for myself.
Once you get used to their tails, there are a few more, uh, quirks. Rats don't care where they drop their bodily wastes (thus the epithet, "pigs in the shape of rats"). Their homes need very regular cleaning. They need baths.
They're also persistent problem-solvers... block them from rappelling down to the floor, and they'll think up a half-dozen new ways to do it. They've got me trained. Dull, monotonous food ("Hey, any other rat on the planet would be thrilled to get chow like this, you little ingrates") generates the most stricken, disbelieving stare a beady-eyed mammal can work up. The female rats I've shared quarters with are usually less friendly than the guys (thus another catch-phrase, "chickens in the shape of rats"), but they're smarter and more... streamlined. (But you didn't hear that from me.)
Basic ratty info - (and let me know if any of it's incorrect):
Rats belong to the rodent order, Rodentia, of gnawing mammals. Together with mice, hamsters, voles, lemmings, and gerbils, rats make up the Old World family Muridae. In number of species, the true rat genus, Rattus, is one of the largest of all mammalian genera. Most species of true rats are found primarily in the East Indies.
Rats are commonly thought of as dark animals with pointed noses and naked feet and tails. They are similar to, but generally larger than, mice. In everyday usage, rat refers specifically to the black and Norway rats, the most feared of all rodents. These are aggressive, omnivorous, adaptable, and prolific animals. They often live with humans and have accompanied them - hitchhiking with early land travelers or stowing away on ships - throughout most of the world. The senses of these rats are highly developed, and their ability to gnaw, climb, jump, or burrow gains them entry to places inaccessible to many other small mammals.
The Norway rat (R. norvegicus), also known as barn, brown, sewer, or wharf rat, was probably originally a native of Asia. It emigrated much later than the black rat, reaching Europe around 1553 and arriving in North America around 1775. It is similar in appearance to the black rat but has smaller ears and a somewhat larger body. Its tail is shorter than its head-and-body length of 7 to 10 inches (18-25 cm). Its coarse fur is usually brown but may be gray, white, black, or pied. Laboratory rats are domesticated albino strains of the Norway rat.
Unlike the black rat, the Norway rat digs burrows of long, branching tunnels and specialized rooms and is an adept swimmer and diver. It has proved to be more adaptable than the black rat in temperate regions, especially in urban areas. It is omnivorous but is more likely than the black rat to eat animal matter. It catches fish easily and may feed on mice, poultry, and young lambs and pigs. It may even attack larger animals, including humans. When both species live in the same area, they occupy different habitats. In a building, for example, the Norway rat tends to occupy the lower levels, while the black rat lives on the upper floors.
Female Norway rats reach sexual maturity at 2 to 3 months of age. They can bear up to 12 litters per year, each litter containing from 2 to 22 young.
D i d y o u k n o w :
Rats (and rabbits) are unable to upchuck.
Why are laboratory scientists switching from rats to lawyers for their experiments?
Your rodent larnin' would be incomplete without these choice rat links:
Big thanx to these folks, and the other sites to which they link.
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