Rattie Ratz Rescue: Becky that Bites

by Steph D’Agostino 

Steph D’Agostino is a Rattie Ratz Rescue social media volunteer who loves hosting live educational events for the rescue and sharing cute pics of the rescue rats.  

When most people look at Becky the rat and see her adorable face through the bars of her cage, they are instantly charmed. Her bright pink ears are round and sit up, perked forward. Her black eyes seem friendly – she looks interested in you. And she almost seems to smile as she places her paws on the bars and sniffs. It seems like a perfectly fine idea to stick your fingers in there and offer her a treat... right? Wrong!

Becky is a sanctuary rat at Rattie Ratz Rescue, and she is one of the rats with the most fans. She has gained a cult following of sorts due to her charming good looks and naughty personality. She has earned her nickname: Becky that Bites.

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Becky came to the rescue in March 2020, right before the coronavirus pandemic hit. Rattie Ratz was contacted by workers at the Humbolt County Animal Shelter about a pregnant rat that they had and would the rescue take her. The experienced volunteers at Rattie Ratz knew that she wouldn’t have much of a chance of being adopted from the shelter, where most adopters were looking for cats and dogs; rats were unusual. They agreed to take Becky and place her in one of their foster homes with a dedicated volunteer, where she could safely give birth to her babies, and they could all eventually find adoptive homes.

There were some concerns, however. Becky had been loose in a park when she was discovered, and she was prone to biting – a lot. Most domestic rats are gentle and only bite as a last resort if very scared or cornered. Becky seemed to go out of her way to bite. One idea was that pregnancy hormones had kicked her maternal protective instincts into high gear, but there was no way to be sure until she raised her babies. Also, since the rat was found pregnant outside, it was possible that her babies had been sired by a wild rat. Rattie Ratz volunteers wondered: would the babies be just as wild and bitey as Becky?

The good news was that Becky gave birth to a litter of healthy, beautiful babies that were sweet and gentle. By all appearances, they were normal domestic rats, and they were quickly adopted once they were old enough. However, it became apparent that Becky would have a much harder time finding an adoptive family. Even with the babies weaned and adopted out, and her hormones no longer at full-tilt, she remained very aggressive to humans.

Rattie Ratz volunteers knew that a typical adoptive home would not be the right match for her, so they placed her in a forever sanctuary home. Sanctuary home volunteers provide a safe and loving home for rats that have medical or behavioral issues which make them “unadoptable.” The rats get love and attention, suitable rat companions, and any medical care they need.

Becky now lives a full and enriching life with Rattie Ratz sanctuary volunteer Molly. Molly understands Becky’s need for personal space and respects that she does not want to be touched. Becky is now considered a senior rat at two years, nine months old (domestic rats typically only live between two and three years of age). One might think that old age would slow her down, but Becky is just as feisty and demanding as ever. If she isn’t the first one to get a treat, she follows Molly’s every move and bites the cage bars as if to say, “Give me the treat or you’re next!”

Despite – or because of – Becky’s funny quirks, Molly’s developed a real fondness for the sleek brown rat. Not every pet wants to be held or petted. So Molly provides other enrichments. She ensures that Becky gets free roam play, a fun cage with toys and hammocks, and good healthy food. Becky lives with a large black-and-white neutered male rat named Ratticus Finch, who is a shy fellow that’s a good match for her wild personality.

“She’s come a long way,” says Molly. “I’ve had her a long time. She knows how to go into the carrier, she knows I won’t make her uncomfortable if I can help it. She’s a good girl. She knows I respect her boundaries, and so she does what I need her to do for me so that I don’t have to cross those boundaries.”

Becky will likely never settle into being a cuddly rat. As Molly puts it, “She’s still a little bit nutty.” But Molly loves Becky just the same.

No matter their quirks, all animals deserve a safe and loving forever home.

If you would like to know more about Rattie Ratz Rescue or find out about upcoming information/adoption events, please visit our Facebook or Instagram. If you are interested in adoptable rats or volunteering for Rattie Ratz Rescue, visit their website at www.rattieratz.com

Check out more animal rescue stories in our Pet Perspective section on Kings River Life, and the Pets section here on KRL News & Reviews. Check back every month for another animal rescue adventure from Feral Paws. Advertise in KRL and 10% of your advertising fees can go to a local animal rescue. We also have a special Facebook Group for our pet articles--join and never miss a pet article.