We need a rat, can you get one?
Such is the nature of my job.
We are currently putting together an exhibit about animals that adapt to life in darkness and for the city section the request was for a rat. This was in addition to the desert scorpions, cave fish, tarantula, hermit crabs and snakes. The last three are no problem because I already have them. The desert scorpions are on their way - it pays to have the right contacts, and I am borrowing the cave fish from a friend. So all I needed was the rat. The local pet store usually has all kinds of colours except what would generally be thought of as the 'natural' rat sort of colour but I figured I would give it a shot anyway. Now in my line of work the only rats I have anything to do with come in packets, frozen, so that I can feed them to the snakes but I am up to most challenges so a rat it is.
Well as it turned out the hunt was extremely easy. For the first time ever the local pet store had a 'rat coloured' rat. Not yellow or white or piebald just good old grey/black - perfect! I haven't handled rats before (at least not live ones) but we have become fast friends already.
The most fascinating thing about this entire process is peoples reaction to rats. I enthusiastically tell people to come and see my lovely new arrival but when I tell them what it is the look of horror soon appears - a rat! Eugh!! Then they get to meet him and slowly he wins people round. He is very cuddly and very gentle. Likes nothing better than to sit quietly in my arms and be petted, it is wonderful to see peoples opinions change in a matter of minutes, his fan club is growing all the time.
Another common misconception is that these are dirty animals, nothing could be further from the truth. This guy spends hours every day cleaning himself meticulously from head to the tip of his extremely long tail.
I think you get where I am heading with this - don't follow the herd, make your own judgements on individual animals, by experience, not hearsay, you may be pleasantly surprised. As for me, well I have fulfilled the request of the exhibits department but much better than that I have managed to show a lot of other people who I work with, that rats really are pretty neat :)
Photo Credits - CJT
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- ONE OF THOSE GOOD TO BE ALIVE DAYS.
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