One day you are supposed to be snake food. The next day you’re a pet. I’d say that’s one lucky rodent. And that’s why I named my pet rat, Lotto. We all know that unmanaged, rats can be pests that cause massive destruction in attics, pantries, closets, and other areas where they shouldn’t be. But Lotto was different. I actually brought him home with somewhat sinister intentions. He was supposed to be bait to find my corn snake that had gotten out of its enclosure. To make a long story short, the snake didn’t show up and the rat survived and made a new home in the snake enclosure. From that point, I knew he was special and decided to take him in. I have found that he is very friendly, intelligent, and actually quite loyal. He’s happy to climb onto my shirt, sit on my shoulder, and just enjoy being around me. But rats are not usually seen in a good light. That’s why I was excited to learn about World Rat Day.
World Rat Day was founded in 2002 by some of my fellow rat enthusiasts who wanted to get people to maybe think of at least some rats as friends. Rats have been around for over 50 million years, and they haven’t had it easy. They’ve been blamed for the spread of the bubonic plague during the Middle Ages that wiped out nearly 60% of the population. (Recent research questions the validity of this claim though.) During the 19th century, rat-baiting became popular in the UK. Spectators of this gruesome sport placed bets on how quickly a dog could kill a pit full of rats. Eventually, fancy rats became all the rage. Fancy rats are domesticated rats that Victorian rat-catchers would capture, breed, and sell for their unusual colors instead of for the dog pits. Rat fancy grew as a hobby in the 20th century with groups and societies popping up in all parts of the world.
Rats have done some very important work. Because of their keen sense of smell, rats have been used to sniff out things like land mines and tuberculosis. They are also very good therapy animals and have been used in the advancement of science since their physiology and psychology is very similar to humans. They’ve contributed to increasing the understanding of several diseases including Alzheimer’s, diabetes, cancer, and even COVID-19.
So, while I 100% understand customers who want to get rid of wild rats, Lotto is safe with me. The story about the corn snake didn’t end with Lotto’s survival. My corn snake DID come out of hiding a few weeks later. Sometimes we have a little bit of a sticky situation in our house though since in addition to my corn snake, my other pets include a ball python and a cat. It’s a little bit hard to convince those three that Lotto is a friend, not food, but we all get along.
If you have a rat as a pet, congratulations! World Rat Day is a day to pamper their fuzzy little faces. If you don’t really care for this type of pet and have some of the wild kind in your attic, just give Tempco a call. We’ll take care of the rest.