Sunday, 6 January 2019

The Three Magic Beans

So ever since I got three pet rats, people ask me, “What made you decide to get rats?”  As if getting rats as companions is… weird or out of the ordinary, despite the fact that I know of lots of people who have or had pet rats and the only people I have ever heard say anything negative about rats are people who have never been around any.

It’s such a confusing question to me, because I don’t remember ever NOT wanting a pet rat.  I mean, they’re small and fluffy, with shiny black eyes and twitchy noses and little fingers; they’re all of the cute things.

Traditionally The Housemate is a dog person, and I am a cat person, but we rent so we're not allowed either anyway.  We have been toying with the idea of asking our landlord if we could get something small for... well since we moved in.  But we never had the courage.

Then one day a valiant knight from the RSPCA went on a quest to save a poor tormented animal from an ogre, and while inspecting the property, the knight came across a whole shed of poor imprisoned rats and managed to rescue them.

These many rats were nursed back to health and put up for adoption, and seeing that the local RSPCA shelter, which I like to look at to torment myself, had this sudden influx of rats, it seemed like fate was calling us to action.  So The Housemate and I finally asked our estate agents to ask our landlord if we could adopt some of these little critters.

And we waited.  And we waited.  And we waited, while most of the rats got adopted.

And then finally we were given a YES, and we rushed to the RSPCA to meet the rats left for adoption, which came down to two cages of four, to be given out in even numbers, of whom the guy knew almost no useful information.  No idea on their age, and they come from a bad background, so likely to develop health problems and they don’t like being handled.  Just what you want to hear.  Being inexperienced owners, we decided to go for just one pair.  So we went for the first rat we saw, a little brown creature with adorable pointy-up ears, who was out of the cage in a flash and climbing all over us.  And we decided to take her fluffy grey friend who eventually followed her over.

But then it turned out, oops, there were actually only three rats in the cage, not four.  So we were destined to adopt three rats, so long as we got all the necessary equipment and permissions in time.

And so we suffered through the most irritating and stressful week of useless incompetence, as every inconvenience and problem that could be thrown our way was.

But then, a miracle, the day came and we were able to visit the RSPCA again and take our new babies home.

And that is how we ended up with our three magic beans, which we decided to name after some characters from The Princess Bride, in memory of William Goldman, since he happened to die just as we were about to adopt.

The brown bean, Inigo – the most curious of the rats, who seems to have boundless energy and likes to lick your hands.  She is what we consider a ‘starter rat’ because she is so easy to handle.

The grey bean, Fezzik - the bounciest of the rats, who is big and fluffy and likes to observe from a height.  She is a little temperamental, switching from shy and retiring to hyperactive zoom-zoom in half a second, which took us by surprise at first and she is the most likely to escape the pen, but also the mostly likely to fall asleep in your dressing gown.

The white bean, Vizzini – the fieriest of the rats, who is silky and soft and likes to build nests.  We’re slightly terrified of Vizzini, because she is shy and nervous, but also wants as much attention as the other two, but she’s a bit blind and clumsy which means occasionally she bites.  This has only caused serious damage once, but you know the phrase.  I'm sure with more time we'll all get more comfortable with each other.  Just don't tell her that we only adopted her because the RSPCA guy miscounted how many rats were in the cage.

The great equalizer of course, is to offer them a sleeve and all three will climb and burrow all over you.  We've had them nearly a month and a half now, and they steal away my spare time constantly, because they're just so gosh darn adorable.


  1. Oh my goodness, this brings me back. My first pets ever, when I was about five years old or so, were mice. I loved those little babies and couldn't understand why anyone would ever think otherwise. I'm glad there are fellow rodent-fans out there! Your babies are so sweet, and I'm touched by their stories.

    1. Aw, thanks. I think it's good for kids to grow up with animals so that they don't develop these irrational dislikes. All animals want to be loved in some form. Although I find the responsibility of looking after these three is quite heavy - not sure I'd have coped with things that can escape when I was five! Good on you.


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