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Mary Ellen & Miss Wings
Children Love Their Pets
Photo by Mary Ellen "Angel Scribe"©
Nico walking downtown, with Bart,
his Hooded Rat, on his shoulder.
Imagine being 10 years old, a nice summer day, and out for a walk down Main Street...with your best friend...on your shoulder! Most people are startled to see Nico, casually walking by City Hall with his year old rat, Bart contentedly sight-seeing on his shoulder. During the colder months, Nico says, "I like having Bart with me, because he warms my neck. He is like a living scarf, and his fur is soft to touch."
The trust and connection between this young man and his rodent is obvious. According to Nico's mother Lisa, "Nico and Bart are inseparable. They have a really sweet relationship." Nico's father, Vince adds, "Nico and Bart are best of buddies."
Lisa admits, "When Nico wanted a rat, I objected, but was out-voted by the family. It is a good thing too, because as cute as our kitties are, we love Bart the most. He is a devoted pet and our favorite. Bart is sweet, friendly, and very personable."
Nico says, "We adopted Bart from Tropical Pets, a year ago. Now, he is 12 inches long from nose to the tip of his tail. Names are important, and I felt he should have a classy name so I named him Bartholomew." On a closer look, his nickname Bart....contains the letters "r.a.t."!
Apparently, Bart's cage is more of a bedroom than an all-day living space. He prefers spending his time with his family watching TV, jumping from family member's shoulder to shoulder.
Bart loves everyone including Nico's twin sister Eve. All is well, until he jumps onto Nico's teenage sister Anna's shoulder. She loudly objects.
Nico adds, "I love Bart. He is obedient, doesn't eat a lot, and doesn't make much mess. Actually rats are my favorite animal. If Bart jumps off the couch and runs and I call him, he runs back to me.
Bart makes me feel needed and important, and he can really jump! When I put him on the dresser to change shirts, he will leap off it -- about 3 feet, back onto my shoulder.
Sometimes, when Bart sees our cats, he squeaks, then chases them, scaring them.
Bart likes our dog, Sally, and when Bart first came to live with us, he jumped on Sally's back. It scared Sally. She flipped out, jumped up and sent Bart flying through the air. Sally is the size of a small pony! Sally is half Irish Wolf Hound and half Bull Mastiff-- much bigger than Bart! Well, actually bigger than Mom and Dad too. After a year, Sally still doesn't like Bart, but Bart keeps trying to be friends with her."
Nico suggests, "Never pick a rat up by the tail or stomach, as it hurts them. Instead, correctly pick them up by their chest, with your fingers around their armpits and shoulders.
Pet rats are nibblers, who eat nuts, fruits, vegetables, and a little protein like eggs, fish and meat. Bart's favorite food is cauliflower.
Caffeine and sugar are bad for them. We make sure Bart gets a lot of exercise by being out of his cage. It also keeps his mind active because he is so curious.
Also, rats need more food closer to winter; and because their fur is short, they need more body fat to keep them warm.
For small caged animals, during the hot weather, Debbie of Old Mill Farm Store suggests, "Three days prior to hot weather, fill your personal water bottle with water and place in the freezer. These make wonderful coolers to add to your critter's cages or under the bedding of larger pets. Also, peel the label off the bottle, prior to placing in their cages, so they won't eat it."
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