Archive for July 6th, 2011

Oh Rats!

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

I thought I would blog a lit­tle bit about rats. I really like them and I have some clients that LOVE them. You wouldn’t think that they would be great pets but the are smart, social, and affec­tion­ate. Unfor­tu­nately, their life span tends to be about 2 years and by that time they may deal­ing with chronic dis­eases like can­cers, heart dis­ease or the dreaded res­pi­ra­tory infec­tions that are so com­mon. Now, although I would never touch a sewer rat, I find them fas­ci­nat­ing as well. I love going to Man­hat­tan and while wait­ing for the sub­way trains, look on the tracks to see if any rats are around. Usu­ally I can spot one or two and it makes my day–I don’t know why. I do know I am not the only one though. Robert Sul­li­van wrote a fas­ci­nat­ing book that I pur­chased dur­ing one of my last trips to NYC. It can also be pur­chased on Ama­zon. It is a great read if you are like me and curi­ous about the rats in our country:

Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City's Most Unwanted Inhabitants (Alex Awards (Awards))

As I stated ear­lier, I have an affin­ity for pet rats, but I have clients that do take it to a bit of an extreme. When talk­ing to these rat afi­ciona­dos, there does tend to be a high level of anthro­por­phism.  I think part of this is due to the fact that rats use their front paws like hands and will push away med­ica­tions they do not want and use their paws to eat favorite foods. I also find that rat own­ers are very pro­tec­tive and I can actu­ally really appre­ci­ate this. Many peo­ple look at rats as ver­min and have instinc­tual fears. I find I usu­ally have to show my clients that I like rats, I know how to pet them and make them bog­gle. Once you gain the trust of the patient and the client, then you can help pro­vide med­ical care. I had one client that would fax me pages of infor­ma­tion from a self pro­claimed rat expert and I would have to read through the infor­ma­tion and then dis­cuss it with him. It was quite chal­leng­ing at times, espe­cially when I did not under­stand the med­ical rea­son­ing behind this person’s sug­gested ther­a­pies or when there was no proof of safety. So we would nego­ti­ate on our plan of action with every call. Ah, the age of the inter­net. Even­tu­ally, this client moved out of state and he would still con­tact me regard­ing his rats since he could not find a local vet that would see rats. After his last rat passed away, I believe he opted to not adopt any more, it was just too emo­tion­ally drain­ing when they became sick or aged.
When the movie Rata­toulle came out a few years back, I was so excited.  It shed light and humor on the rela­tion­ship between peo­ple and rats. Depend­ing on the con­text, a swarm of sewer rats can be scary and dis­ease rid­den. But one or two pet rats can bring humor and com­pan­ion­ship to a family. To know them is to love them.