Rattie Ratz: One Volunteer’s Rat Story

By Daria Filimonova

Daria is a volunteer with Rattie Ratz who wanted to share the story of how she got into owning rats and the mischief that changed her life.

Lewis and Jasper
My rat story starts not with rats but with mice. When I was a wee middle schooler, I managed to convince my parents to let me own two mice. I enjoyed the experience and though my parents would not let me bring home more mice after the first two, I found myself always checking up on the mice at the pet store.

Years later, I was at the pet store watching the little mice scurry around their tank when I noticed a note hanging on the glass. Two rats were brought to the pet store and were up for a free adoption. Instantly intrigued by the idea of "bigger mice" I asked a store employee to show me the rats. As soon as I saw their little faces pressed against the 20-gallon tank, I did the only thing any reasonable teenager would do… I called my mom! I managed to convince my parents to let me take them home and named them Jasper and Lewis. After some research, I went out and bought them a new cage, accessories, good quality food, and a lot of treats.

➡ switch to KingsRiverLife.com for more articles ⬅

I quickly realized that rats are very different from mice and fell in love with the funny creatures. Their different personalities and cute little faces won me over and cemented the fact that I would continue to want rats in the future.

Fast forward to the end of university and I was in the market to adopt rats again. I started to get random panic attacks at the start of my senior year, had to take a semester off and travel home to California from Canada.

Left to right: Cinnamon, Scabbers, Dobby, Pickles

In the beginning of 2020, I returned to Canada for my final semester of undergrad and decided to adopt a pet for emotional support. I scoured the local shelters and found a female rat needing a home. When I first saw her, I saw it was quite obviously a boy and corrected the staff. This came as a surprise to everyone at the shelter. Having already owned boys previously, I knew I had to have him. He was amazing. Ginger and white, I named him Scabbers, signed the adoption papers right away - and thus begins the real story of the mischief that changed my life!

Scabbers lived with me in Canada, was the perfect emotional support animal and really the perfect rat. We spent most of our time together, especially once Covid hit and my roommates left to shelter with their parents.

Scabbers and I did everything together, from taking out the trash with him in my pocket, to binging Netflix with him free roaming in the living room, and snacking together in bed. When classes ended, I knew I couldn't do anything but figure out how to fly my best buddy to California with me to go home. So, we went on an adventure together. No airlines to San Francisco were allowing rats at the time, so Scabbers and I had to fly to Los Angeles and my father drove there to pick us up. 

Once we were home, I started to finally look into finding Scabbers a friend. I happened upon a shelter Instagram post of a tiny black-and-white hooded boy. He was dumped in a box outside the shelter and was the only rat there. I knew I had found Scabber's friend - or as I would come to call all my rats younger than Scabbers - his son. I named him Pickles. 

Left to right: Cinnamon, Pickles, Scabbers, Dobby

Scabbers was instantly annoyed by Pickles because he was a tiny and energetic thing that didn't understand the concept of personal space. Scabbers was an angel though, and aside from giving me the side-eye, took Pickles under his wing and the two quickly bonded. I decided to upgrade to a double Critter Nation and soon two tiny dumbo boys, Dobby and Cinnamon, joined our little family and blended in immediately.

These four boys brought so much joy to my life. I enjoyed thinking of upgrades to their cage, trying out new ideas like dig boxes, and teaching them to do tricks. Scabbers and Pickles learned how to spin, but I could never wrangle Cinnamon and Dobby. I loved cuddling with them, and most of all, I loved to watch them just be themselves.

Scabbers was always with me, boggled and gave me kisses any time I would reach into the cage or put my cheek next to him. The boys treated him like a dad. He really loved yoghurt. Scabbers was the first rat to make me truly feel like he loved me and even at the end, when everything started to go wrong with his health, he only wanted to be with me and lie in my arms. 

Pickles started off as a troublemaker when he was young and full of energy. After Scabbers passed in 2021, Pickles and Dobby started to get into spats, so I decided to get Pickles neutered. After he mellowed out, Dobby became the primary troublemaker. 

Dobby was a goofball and too smart - or too dumb- for his own good. I still don't know which one it was! He always got into where he shouldn't be, tried to pick on Pickles even though he was a lot smaller and then he would proceed to sleep on Pickles for warmth. He loved to play with his brother, Cinnamon, and always provided endless entertainment for me. I would constantly find him dangling his head and his front paws off a lava ledge for no reason and would ask him what he was up to. 

Cinnamon was an aloof, silky-smooth Siamese with the most relaxed personality. He was down to have his belly rubbed and to be held for extended periods of time, but he was also an escape artist. He was my only rat that was not scared to jump off the bed and he even managed somehow to reach the cage. Whenever we would go to the vet, Cinnamon would be gushed over and get his picture taken by the staff because he was just so cute.

My boys went through so many life-changing moments with me: a pandemic, university graduation, moving out, meeting my husband, and getting married. They were the constant in my life during this time of change and growth, and I believe it made my bond with them even stronger.

In 2022, Dobby and Cinnamon passed within a month of each other, both declining quickly and suddenly. I went to the emergency vet, I went to my regular vet, in the end I couldn't do anything more to save my boys and it was honestly a traumatic experience that will always hurt to talk about. I was devastated that my mischief was gone so suddenly with no time for either Pickles or I to adjust, just one death after another.

Pickles was with me the longest but still not long enough.

While I was processing the grief, Pickles was slowly becoming my best friend. He got spoiled and he returned the favor by showing me he loves me with extra kisses. My husband got to know him, and we came up with a lot of nicknames and catch phrases for Pickles. We still use them to this day. My husband enjoyed watching Pickles stand up on his hind legs and peak over the cage bars, giving him a treat, and then watching him grab it and go hide. We even bought Pickles a big birthday balloon when he hit two years. I enjoyed taking care of Pickles, whether it was after his tumor removal surgery, or for his chronic respiratory infection, or buying expensive vitamins and supplements that helped with aging. I took the best possible care that I could of Pickles, not sparing any cost just like I did with my other boys because I did not want to lose him. Pickles was a good strong boy who was with me for three birthdays of mine. In November, we had to make the difficult decision to let him go a few days after my birthday after a hard fight with cancer. Not a single rat I’ve owned had been spared of the disease.

I thought my experience with rats would end with the loss of Pickles. But he is survived by two boys that I adopted in hopes of bonding them with Pickles. Unfortunately, Pickles health never allowed that to happen. The most contact the trio had was supervised free-roam that always ended with Pickles crawling into my lap and looking at me like, "Mom, help they are climbing all over me!" 

Brussel and Hansel

It has taken me a while to adjust to the loss of Pickles, especially because he was the last of the original mischief that took hold of my heart. While I have had a hard time bonding with the two boys I have now, Hansel and Brussel, I am soothed by the fact that I don't have to tear down my Critter Nation and put everything away just yet. I also like watching the differences and similarities between Hansel and Brussel and my other boys. Even if it makes me miss my mischief it is a way to remember them.

For me, the only con to owning rats has been the heartbreak of their short lifespans. I try to remind myself that while rats are not here for our whole lives, we are there for their whole lives, and it is important for rats to continue to find good loving homes. An additional issue that I did not expect when starting my mischief were the vet costs. If you are considering becoming a rat owner it is very important to be prepared both mentally and financially for the veterinary care that your companions may need. I could say that I became a regular visitor at the vet's office with all of my rats, even the newest ones (Hansel managed to remove his neuter stitches five times).

While I am unsure if I will personally be able to own more rats in the future, I will always recommend rats as pets because of all the good qualities about them. They are intelligent animals, they are easy to bond with and grow attached too, and they are each unique and interesting individual. I could tell the difference between my rats with my eyes closed by touch or by hearing - such is the extent of their individuality. For example, if I heard something being moved around the cage at night, I knew for sure that out of my four boys it was Pickles remodeling and trying to push all the toys out like always. After all, I had everyone, other than Scabbers, since they were babies, and they were all my best friends.

If you would like a best friend of your own or to learn more about how amazing rats are as pets, I highly recommend you reach out to Rattie Ratz rescue or join us at an adoption event! While my experience has been bittersweet with the passing of my mischief that does not overshadow the amazing two years that I had with my boys. They were my constant companions through so many major life changes. I will always remember them and cherish my memories of these boys, and I hope that you too will be able to find your perfect rattie soulmates like how I found mine!

And that is the end of the story for now. <3

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.





  1. Loved your story .I've rescued many rats, each with their own personality, they were so loved & all broke my heart when they passed.Amazing little creatures ❤️


Post a Comment