Rats are incredible pets and teachers. Those of us who are blessed to spend time with these balls of fur have learned some important lessons from them, and I hope to one day have life as figured out as they seem to.
10. There is no such thing as being too curious
Rats will investigate anything they can get their paws on. If they can see it or smell it, they are going to do everything within their power to get to it. I mean they will do anything to get to whatever they are curious about, and you better believe they will figure out whatever it is. As humans, we only investigate things that we believe will benefit us. However, we would be much better served to investigate everything and figure out how we can make it benefit us afterwords; like a rat.
9. Instant gratification is not always the best gratification
When a rat gets curious about something, they are relentless. When that curiosity rewards them, you can’t mistake the self-satisfied look on their face. They’ll snuggle up in some hammock and give you a look that just screams, “Yes, I am awesome. Thank you for noticing”. This drives them to be more curious and to work harder every time they set out to do something, regardless of whether or not they’ve done it before. There is nothing as gratifying as something you have worked for, and rats certainly have that one down.
8. Companionship is everything
There is nothing on earth as sad as a lone rat. They won’t play or take care of themselves as well, and may even slip into an incurable depression. When they have others to keep them company, everyone gets taken care of equally. The happiest rats I’ve ever seen are ones in large groups wrestling, playing and cleaning with each other. This sense of companionship is everything to a rat, and we humans are not all that different.
7. Anything is possible
The largest mistake you can make is to look at a rat and say “You can’t possibly do that”, because sure as the sun rises, you’ll turn around and there they’ll be doing whatever you said they couldn’t. You would think that a creature as small as a rat would have some sense of self-preservation, or that they’d spend more time asking themselves, “Could this kill me?”. That expectation goes out the window the first time one of them leaps off of your shoulder and onto a towel hanging on the wall. They’ll climb up the towel and look around the room, fully enjoying the chance to see all the areas you haven’t shown them yet. The look on their face clearly says, “Danger? What danger? I made it didn’t I?”. If people were as easy to underestimate as rats are, we would get a lot more done, or we would have a higher average mortality rate. I’m not certain which.
6. Indulgence is okay
If you put a bowl of fruit and vegetables in front of a rat, you’ll find every piece gone within minutes. They’ll have stuffed themselves completely, and then stored the rest wherever they deemed as a suitable storage area, which will typically be in their litter pan (I don’t honestly know, I can’t help you there). We humans tend to save everything and indulge very little, not realizing that what we’ve stashed away may very well spoil before we can get to it. Or worse yet, saved nothing and then needed it later on. Rats have a healthy balance between the two, making their survival rates in nearly all situations absolutely ridiculous.
5. You only need to learn a hard lesson once
Humans have a tendency to do something destructive, get hurt, and then do it over and over again just to be sure that it actually did hurt the last time. Rats get hurt once and never go back to test their experience. I’ve bathed each rat that I’ve owned exactly once, and that was all it took for them to decide that running water is Satan. They don’t need to suffer something more than once to know that they never want to experience it again. If only humans could figure that out.
4. Rest and play are both important, and it’s easy to have too much of either
There is a significant difference between male and female rats. Male rats never do anything and are quite content to keep it that way. Female rats never stop, and would probably lose their minds if they were forced to. Between playing with each other, making and remaking nests, as well as all of the other random shenanigans females go on, it’s a wonder they don’t sleep more often. Regardless of whether it’s being too lazy or too active, each has its upsides and its downsides, and neither one is better than the other. A balance is best, in all things, and this is something humans forget as often as rats do.
3. If it isn’t broken, don’t try to fix it
Female rats, as mentioned above, never slow down. As a result, even when they find something that works, they are always trying to improve on it. They will gather all kinds of fabric and scraps to create a nest, take it apart an hour later and do it all over again. Since this results in the same nest every time, they can’t seem to see that improvement is not always possible. Sometimes, they’ll drive themselves absolutely insane with silly things like that. Humans have a tendency to do this as well, making for some infuriating days. (Heaven forbid both species are having the same problem at the same time)
2. Life is simple, and it’s important for that to be enough
Life isn’t terribly complicated, but humans and rats alike have a wondrous ability to make it complicated. Both species would do well to learn that sometimes having enough is okay. If you have companionship, food, warmth, a home and the time to enjoy life, there’s nothing to improve on or to be unhappy with. Just like the female rat will go insane trying to make the perfect nest, we humans will go insane trying to clean that one spot in the bathroom just so. It’s really just an unnecessary aggravation. Maybe one day we’ll get that all sorted out or have robots to clean exactly how we like.
1. Time is cruel, and there’s never enough of it
The average life-span of a pet rat is 2.5 years. This time is nowhere near enough and the bitter feeling that creeps up towards the end is unmistakable. The loss of my rats has hurt more than the loss of people in my life. The love, friendship and joy rats have brought into my world is something I can’t image ever living without. While humans live far far longer than rats, chronologically, our lives still pass as quickly and are just as precious. It is incredibly important to treasure every moment you have, accomplish all that you can, and love as deeply as possible before time has run out and you’ve no idea where it’s gone. Since rats only live a couple of years, that makes every single day the most important day of their life.