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"Huh?"

Questions have been asked about why Scribble's motto is "Huh?", including intimations of perhaps favoritism with little Scribble getting the short straw. Perhaps Scribble is being judged unfairly?

Scribble is, as has been stated many times on this site, very different from Eek, and yet is still quite endearing, and certainly loved. With that said, Scribble is, as the phrase goes, not the "sharpest pencil in the box". Scribble does become puzzled easily.

The earliest signs of Scribble's easy confusion began when giving the rats large leaves of kale. Both rattie girls like kale, and both have specific locations in their parts of the cage where they like to eat their food. So upon being presented with a kale leaf, each will drag it, in both cases, up an interior cage ramp to their individual feeding locations. Eek, being quick both physically and mentally, understands that to drag the large sized leaf up her ramp, she'll need to turn around, moving backwards up the ramp, dragging the leaf behind her. In a flash, the leaf is pulled into the desired location and Eek is happily eating away.

Scribble befuddledScribble, however, is very challenged. She also desires to drag her leaf up her ramp, but unfortunately tries to do so while moving forward. The leaves are of such a size - about a human hand in dimension - that if she holds an edge in her teeth, and starts to move forward, she quickly has stepped onto the rest of the leaf. She excitedly starts up her ramp, clutching her prized leaf in her teeth, only to suddenly be unable to move forward. Because she is standing on the leaf - the one she is holding in her teeth. She tries and tries. Then finally lets go, enthusiastically runs up the ramp, only to look back seemingly puzzled that her kale is still at the bottom of the ramp. She very much wants that kale, so back down the ramp she goes, and grabs onto the kale again. Again she tries to travel forward up the ramp, and again, mysteriously, she can't move - because she is standing on the very leaf she is trying to carry. Back and forth she goes. Sometimes a chunk of the kale will rip off the edge, and she eagerly brings that into her "spot" and consumes it. Then back down the ramp for another go at moving the kale leaf.

As much as I love the little Scribble, I am sad to say that this is not a one time occurrence with Scribble. So far it has happened with every leaf.

This behavior is also not specific to food. One evening I was sorting through some swatches of knitted fabric on the floor while Scribble was roaming freely. Each swatch was about 5" x 5" - and just the kind of thing that Scribble would like to grab and run off with. She would sneak in to excitedly grab a swatch corner and turn to make her get away... stepping onto the very swatch with which she was attempting to abscond. She pulled and pulled, finally letting go to run to the objective hidey hole without the swatch. I could almost hear the "Huh?!" as she longingly looked back in puzzlement at what she had thought was her prize. And out she came to try yet again.

Dear little Scribble has attempted to apply her apparently meager brain power to solving this problem. There was another day in which I was working with a series of notes on small sheets of paper. Like with the swatches, I had spread them on the floor to organize them while Scribble was roaming freely. Again, she would "sneak" in excitedly to grab a corner of paper then turn to run off, and because she had stepped onto the very same paper she was holding in her mouth, find herself stuck. After several attempts, this time she hit upon a new idea. With edge of the paper in her mouth, Scribble hopped vertically into the air. She still landed on the paper, and found herself stuck, so she hopped again. And again. And again. Hop, hop, up and down, with very little forward progress, accompanied with uncontrolled laughing on my part, as she doggedly tried again and again to move forward with her prize.

Maybe one day it will occur to little Scribble to drag her kale behind her as she moves backwards. Until then, she continues to be somewhat befuddled, and very loved.

Update April 27, 2013: It was observed for the first time that Scribble has finally learned the "pulling something while moving backwards" strategy. More than once, she happily and successfully moved larger chunks of fabric and kale leaves around in her cage, without standing on them and becoming confused.

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Blog_post | by Dr. Radut