Today I want to talk about my rat, Loki. Loki is the reason I even still have rats at this point. I heard about two martens (a rare colouring involving a black/grey coat and red eyes, aka ‘black devils’) who’d been rescued from a pet shop with a bunch of other rats. All the rats were underweight and had patchy fur from mites. When I got Loki and his brothers, they definitely weren’t underweight any more. They were the biggest rats I’d ever seen! And although Loki isn’t a particularly good marten (he looks more white than grey now), he’s still super pretty ❤
Loki had a pretty bad start in life. His brothers hated him. I’ve never seen a rat be so badly bullied. I tried everything to sort this out (mainly sticking them all together in hamster cages over and over to ‘bond’) but nothing worked. This was one occasion where the ‘no blood, no foul’ rule of rat keeping turned out to be total bullshit. Loki was a nervous wreck. I’d often hear him screaming as his brother chased him, and during free roam he would hide behind the sofa and to get him back I’d have to tip the sofa onto its back and grab him with a towel before he could find something else to hide under (luckily he couldn’t fit underneath the fridge). Despite his fear of being touched, he never actually bit me.
After splitting him and his brothers up, and after neutering him, I tried Loki with my two girls, and he seemed to like them well enough, but nothing really changed in him until I partnered him up with my baby rats, Odin and Tyr (who are definitely not babies anymore and who make Loki look like a small rat), along with Mercury. All three boys are super friendly and cuddly, and Loki seemed to soak up their confidence like a sponge. I was able to train him to jump onto a tool box if I tapped it, and I could use that like a lift to get Loki to and from his cage. Eventually, Loki started letting me pick him up. After that, and not really all that long ago, Loki started jumping on my lap with the other boys. I was able to get in quick cuddles with him whenever I picked him up. He no longer runs away from me. He still has off days where he doesn’t want to be touched, and on those days I leave him alone, but the majority of the time he acts like any normal rat.
The change in him has been so wonderful to see. He’s no longer scared of his own shadow. He’s no longer scared of me. That’s taught me a lot about rats, and about their friendships. He loves his new brothers. If we go to the vet, I always take Tyr along with us, because he’s the most confident and he makes things a lot less scary for Loki.
I’m writing this because Loki is an old man now, and his body is starting to shut down. I’m trying to feed him up, but he can’t keep weight on and he’s tired. Still, he seems happy cuddling with his brothers after a good meal, and that makes me happy, because I know how miserable he was when he first came here, and the contrast is so good to see.