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What to Do with a Naked Baby Rat?

The shock of the “ratness” took time to overcome. It was sometimes hard to tamp down the rising creepy feeling looking at what was now obviously the little ratty nose, the huge yellow teeth and the somewhat naked rat tail. Researching rats, I was beginning to suspect that it was a roof rat – considered a nasty, unsavory, filthy and wild creature – adding to my apprehension. None the less, it was in my care, and I felt responsible in seeing this through.

Also around this time, some friends and family were beginning to learn of my rat. Most rolled their eyes, laughed and reacted with incredulity. However, my Aunt Cathy was immediately and uniquely pro-rat, and even questioned my plan to cast the little rodent adrift in the wild world without even a blueberry to her name (Eek has a very strong affection for blueberries, something that was apparent from early on). Aunt Cathy advocated that I consider keeping it as a pet, which caused me to roll my eyes, laugh and react with incredulity. My friend Ed advocated naming it "Chuckles". It just wasn't a "Chuckles". I started calling it “Eek”.

Little Eek with not much furEek was, however, losing more and more fur, due to outgrowing the mats created by spillage during the kitten formula feedings, and also had an issue with it's tail. It was time to seek professional advice. It turns out that there is one veterinarian, and only one veterinarian, in our area that treats rodents. In late July, approximately one month after Eek’s arrival, we went to the vet, Dr. Hilary Stern.

It was a revelation to witness everyone at the vet’s office handle Eek so casually and comfortably. I had brought in my gloves, which, up until this time, I had used to handle it. But the clinic staff were cheerfully willing to handle Eek bare-handed. The little rat won great attention for extreme cuteness, with those unusually huge ears, and gigantic, voluminous whiskers. Each tech excitedly had to have a picture. While being examined, Eek happily crawled all over Dr. Stern, nuzzling her neck, licking the doctor.

Dr. Stern confirmed that Eek was indeed a Rattus rattus, also known as a roof rat, black rat or ship rat, and a female. To my relief, she assured me that Eek’s fur would grow back and that she would not remain naked. Eek also had the end of her tail missing from the original cat encounter. This too, Eek would heal from, with the blackened end eventually simply falling off. Lastly, I was told that Eek was very tame and used to humans (this was said while Eek was held in the vet’s hand, happily and affectionately licking the vet’s fingers). Therefore she should not be released as originally planned.

As an aside, if you happen to be visiting this site because you have pet rats, information about Dr. Hilary Stern, our fabulous friendly supportive rodent vet can be found here at her clinic.

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Blog_post | by Dr. Radut