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:
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.