This article is from the July/Aug. 1994 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.
By Alethea Perkins
Irecently suffered a very heart-breaking experience, and learned a hard lesson. I have two things to warn about here and I am sharing this with you in the hope that no one learns this lesson the way I did.
I own a Black Hooded feeder rat, and my sister owns a Silver Lilac Hooded which I gave her as a gift. These are both our first rats and we still have a lot to learn as I am finding out. A friend recently gave me her singing canary with the idea that I would give it a good home. I had been allowing the bird to fly free within the confines of my bedroom; this is also where we keep our rats. I didn’t know my sister’s rat was loose; in fact the rats were the last thing on my mind when I let my bird out of his cage that morning. Unfortunately, she was loose and when I left the room, she killed my bird. Sadly, I forgot a very important fact: Rats are predators! If you have other small animals or a bird, don’t ever leave your rats alone with these animals.
This brings me to the second topic, rats and cats. ln some of the news letters I receive from the club, there are cute pictures of members’ rats curled up in the paws of their cats and a few stories make reference to their rats and cats playing together. Our rats are extremely afraid of our cats and we have never allowed the cats to get too close. My sister’s Silver Lilac was badly injured when someone let the cat in the bedroom by mistake. She caught the rat by the tail and the rat panicked. The skin was pulled off the tail like a glove off a hand. The bone had to be amputated and the skin stitched shut. If we had caught our mistake just minutes later she would be dead right now! I won’t mention the stress it put on the rat, or the large vet bill involved.
People love their pets very much, but they don’t always realize that pets are not human. They act off instincts and instincts are powerful motivators. Certain animals are predators, their instincts tell them to prey on other animals. How many of you know that rats are predators? I am sure you all understand that cats are predators. Have any of you ever seen a wild rat or mouse after your cat has had time to play with it for a little while? lt’s not a pretty sight. A cat doesn’t know the difference between your “pet” rat and a “wild” rat.You might say, “But I feed my cats well, they would never do that.” or, “My rats know better than that, I taught them not to hurt other animals.” Rats and cats don’t always kill because they are hungry—they do it because it’s their instinct. They are predators and these instincts can never be trained out of an animal. They may be fine while you are there watching, but it only takes a minute for disaster to strike, don’t turn your back on them once. The earth is under a curse, death abounds and animals are still preying on one another. The lion is not lying down with the lamb yet. Please remember, I wish I had.