Furever Afters

Charlie (formerly Fred of LaGrange) with his boy Caleb!


**”I am so happy with these rats, they are so much fun to play with. They love to sneak into my hoodie and groom themselves in there forever! They lick my hands when I pet them, and love to run around on the couch, hiding in the blankets and then popping out! Even my dad thinks they are kinda cute! I named them Mac and Charlie, I like them both, but Mac is really funny! I really love these guys!”**

That is from my step son, Caleb. He was a bit unsure of having a pet rat at first, as he was used to the idea of hamsters and gerbils as pets, which are very sweet, but just don’t have that same level of interaction you get from a rat! When I brought these boys home, Caleb was beside himself with excitement. I wanted to let them settle in for the first day without a lot of handling just in case they were stressed from the car ride home, but that was like torture for Caleb! He wanted to pet them and play with them so bad! The next day, he took them out and let them crawl all over him, just amazed at how friendly they were. And now, I can barely keep him away from the rats! When he is home, he has two rats with him. He even invited his best friend and neighbor over to see the rats, and now that boy would love a couple of rats as well!
Charlie and Mac are just the sweetest boys. I owned rats in the past, but it has been over 5 years. These boys are some of the sweetest rats I have ever owned. They charge to the cage door as soon as you walk by their cage, begging to come out. When you are trying to put new food in their cage, they attack your hand with kisses and try to crawl up your arm to let themselves out! They are such little loves, even when I give them free range time in the bathroom, they would rather crawl over me then explore…although, curiosity usually does get the better of them and soon they are hopping all over the bathroom checking everything out…but they always pop back over for a cuddle before they are off again! Mac is the wild man and bouncy character, always looking to get into something! Charlie loves to cuddle and just be pet, bruxing in complete bliss. They both stop for a good scratch behind the ears, though! Mac is a piggy, and loves to steal Charlie’s treats, so I always make sure to give Charlie a second one, because Mac usually is off with the first piece! They love their hammocks and have the best spot in the house where they can see everyone. These rats are so wonderful, we couldn’t have asked for sweeter pets! Thanks so much for bringing these boys into our lives!”

Galileo with his girl Rylee                                                               June 2009

Galileo, A.K.A. Funny, is having a fun time at our house. He’s very happy and loves all the attention that he’s receiving. He’s not a picky eater, and is always glad to try new foods. He excitedly runs back and forth and up and down his stairs when he knows he’s about to be picked up.

We have two cats, and at first we worried we’d have to keep a close eye on them. Turns out the cats are a little scared of Galileo, but he’s made friends with one of them.


Galileo is a very cute and cuddly rat that we are glad to have as part of our family.


Rylee W.
age 11


February 27, 2009
By Zimra of Orono, ME


My Mom HATED rats! Hated them with a vengeance! She said that they were
disgusting little beasts that belonged in sewers and trash
cans. Nobody, nothing, could change her mind. She didn’t even want to
be shown pictures of them. They gave her the heebie-jeebies.
One of my friends, or I should say my big sister’s friend, had
three Rats. She, Danni (Danielle), told me about Mainely Rat Rescue.She had adopted
the 3rd from MRR. She is the reason I finally was able to
foster. Because, I tried without success to get my mom to let me
foster. I told her the whole process and how she wouldn’t even have to
see them if she didn’t want to. She again gave me a big NO…in her
words “Only boys like rats.” I proved her wrong telling her that
Danni had Rats. I talked to her, Danni talked to her. She finally
consented,throwing her arms up in defeat.
So I E-mailed MRR telling them I could foster rats for them if they’d let me.
They responded immediately telling me that I could. They got me all set up
with a cage, food…everything I needed. So Me and my dad went and
picked up two rats. A siamese white one and a black hooded one.
I took care of them for a week before my mom even touched them.
One day, I brought them on the couch to play and then my mom walked up the
stairs. She saw them sniffing around and looking just as cute as they

( Number one cutest thing a rat can do is clean his face.. Number
two, .. Sniff like there’s no tomorrow. )

My Mom sat down and watched them for a minute.. and then, miracle of
miracles. She petted one.
The one she petted was Pepper, the black hooded one.
He ran and hid underneath the couch cushion.
She frowned and tried petting the other one.
Salt, the white siamese one.
He flopped down against my moms leg and just went to sleep.
They say male rats are more lethargic than girls. Salt is just a sleepy head.
After she saw how charming he could be, she gently picked him up with
one hand and set him on her lap. After a quick sniff around,confirming that there was no immediate danger, Salt went back to sleep. My mom just fell in love with him.
she called him her little man and held him every night.
BUT, she still hadn’t adopted him.
One morning, we got an E-mail from MRR. Robin, the foster care counselor,
told us that someone in Michigan wanted to adopt Salt and Pepper. My
mom just fluffed up like a mother hen and said, ” OH NO, no-ones taking
my Saltie, he’s mine!”
I read the rest of the E-Mail. Robin told us that there was no way to
transport them that far. After that scare, my mom didn’t want to take
anymore chances.
We immediately called Robin and told her we were DEFINITELY adopting them.
When we hung up my mom threw on her coat and raced out the door with
me. We Bought a Rat Manor Habitat, toys, treats, rat bedding,.. in
short, everything we needed to keep Salt and Pepper happy.
My mom has now managed to bond a little better with Pepper but he is
no competition for Salt. Salt’s just a natural charmer.
Just this morning we were all eating oatmeal and I look up and see
Salt and Pepper happily managing to get oatmeal ALL OVER their
faces. My mom had served them before anyone else.
She really pampers them.

So there it is. My mom is a true example that no matter how much you
think that you hate rats…..you’d be surprised.
Take my word for it.

January 2, 2009
By Susie Duff of Framingham, MA

I’ve never been a rat owner or really even thought about it. I had the
typical pets as a child growing up in an apartment–hamsters, gerbils,
guinea pigs, and mice for a brief time until my mom thought they smelled too

But I’ve always loved all kinds of animals and as a soon as I lived in a
house, I loaded it up with dogs. Well, ok, three.

My husband jokes that there must be a sign up on door that only animals can
see, “Stray Pets Welcome.” Once an escaped cockatiel found his way to the
telephone line in front of our house and flew down to me when I started
talking to him. I was able to return him to his owner who lived a few miles
away. Another time I found an albino ring necked dove on the way home.

So I guess it isn’t that surprising that one day when I came home from work,
my husband reported that there was a white rat in our garage. I knew enough
from doing many trap/releases of wild rats living under our deck to know
that a white rat isn’t wild.

So I went to the garage and started talking to the clutter. Priscilla came
out immediately. She didn’t come up to me, but she was calm enough to
explore unafraid.

I caught her almost immediately in a hav-a-heart trap. She came over to my
side of the cage and let me pet her through the bars. The next day I spotted
another white rat hiding under our deck and coming out to eat bird seed that
had fallen from the feeder. I was also able to catch her.

When Priscilla was reunited with Abagail, the scene would have warmed any
heart. She was so excited and started kissing her all over her head. It was
clear she was saying, “My best friend!!! I thought I would never see you
again!” (Actually, we think they were mother and daughter).

My husband agreed that we could keep them, although he confessed that rats
had always ‘creeped him out.’

A few weeks later, it dawned on me that Priscilla might be pregnant. The day
after I told my husband that this was a possibility, she gave birth to ten
babies (the father was a wild rat).

It was then that I found the wonderful rat rescue groups on the internet.

I promised my husband I would surrender the babies. But only two survived
(long story, but the moral is that vets do NOT always know best).
Fortunately they both turned out to be females.

I was still planning on giving them up until my husband suggested we keep
all four. (And no, I didn’t push for it; it was all his idea). As a sign of
gratitude, I let him name the babies (Hoot and Annie. Can you tell he used
to be a musician?).

I’ve since had the pleasure of discovering what wonderful animals rats are.
They’re so intelligent and so personable. I can’t think of any other pet
where biting is extremely unusual.

They love to explore the room, help me work on the computer, climb the
curtain for a treat, and go digging in my dog’s fur. His favorite ratty game
is hide-and-seek with Priscilla, but he’s also very interested in ‘bobbing
for dog kibble.’

I built them a grotto out of a bookcase and I love watching them go from
shelf to shelf, swing in the hammock, and try to hide food from each other.

One of the funniest incidents I’ve ever seen was the time that one of them
was ‘hiding’ treats by furiously moving them from shelf A to shelf B, while
at the same time the other was moving them just as fast back to their
original spot.

This went on for about 10 minutes, neither one realizing that their pile of
treats was not getting any smaller. Then when one was waiting for the other
to move out of the way so she could pass, you could just see comprehension
suddenly dawn on her. She paused for a few seconds, (“Wait a minute…..”)
and then changed her route so that she deposited them on a different shelf.

I know now that I’ll be a rat owner for many years to come. They’ve got to
be one of the greatest pets.

Decemeber 2008
By Melissa Bouchard of Palermo, Maine

I am writing to let everyone know that Cheese & Crackers (a.k.a Jared and JoJo) have found their forever home! The boys have been with us a little over a week now and are adjusting so great! I originally came across Mainely Rat Rescue sort of by accident while looking for a hamster for my son for Christmas. Robin mentioned adopting a rat instead since they are bigger and easier to handle by little hands. After researching a bit, I agreed she was right, a rat would be a better fit than a hamster. Robin knows her rattie’s and recommended these boys to us and we will be forever grateful to her! They are angels in fur! They snuggle together in their hammock all the time and are very eager to greet us as we approach them. They love to come out and play and surprised us by being quite avid jumpers! Some of their favorite treats so far are shredded mottzarella cheese, yogurt covered raisins, and shredded wheat! We all adore them and rush home to play with them. We feel very blessed to have them as part of our family. A big thank you to Mainely Rat Rescue for all that you do to help the animals, and a big thank you to Robin. Without her patience, guidance, and knowledge, I am ashamed to say I would have never considered getting a ratty or known how truly great of a pet these little guys can be! We are ratty lovers for life now!

August 2008 By Emily of Florence, South Carolina

I knew fate was calling my name when I saw the posting about Josephine and her babies. My attention was captured when I saw that her babies were born on World Rat Day (April 4th). So I clicked on the topic and was surprised by what I read. Josephine had given birth to only two babies, both of them boys. I had been planning forever to adopt a female and two boys when I was ready again (I had three boys of my own and had recently lost two). I didn’t think I was ready but all the signs were there. I wouldn’t have to split a mother from her babies and I could have the group I dreamed of… the whole family would be together forever (after the neuters and spay of course).

Being PEWs, Josie and her boys were harder to adopt out, merely because of their color. Some potential adopters consider them too “ordinary” or are afraid of their clear pink eyes, making it hard for even the sweetest PEW to find a loving home. But myself, and many others know the truth, their color is merely heaven’s way of showing off its very best earth angels… pure white and innocent.

Josie came from a person who used her to breed babies, which were then fed to snakes. When she and the other rats were no longer needed, they were dumped out like trash. She was understandably traumatized and terrified of losing her newest babies. She didn’t know how to trust, let alone love a human. When I picked them up, I knew it would be a struggle. I knew that she may never trust me, but I vowed to make her as happy as possible… whatever that meant for her.

I wore leather gloves when handing out treats for the next few days to avoid those sharp teeth. I didn’t even try to pick her up for quite some time. Pretty soon I felt comfortable giving her treats bare handed and we progressed to coaxing her farther and farther out of her cage. The boys certainly helped in this matter because they had no fears about exploring every inch of their new human. Josie did decide that my hair was by far my best feature… excellent nesting material!

After about six weeks I finally attempted to pick up Josie without gloves. I popped a yogie in her mouth and scooped her up. It worked!! She didn’t try to bite, but more importantly, she didn’t struggle because she didn’t want to lose her treat. The very next day I did it without a treat and continue to pick her up more and more. She now lets me give her kisses all the time and puts up very little fuss when I want to hold her and cuddle.

Josephine seems to enjoy her pets and holds very still and bruxes while I stroke her. She has this surprised look on her face the whole time! Like she can’t believe she’s actually enjoying it. She even boggles when I talk to her in a soft voice. I have no fears of getting bit anymore and she is very clear about her limits. I push them a little at a time. She's stopped nipping completely and is SO careful about taking treats. I even got a quick kiss on the mouth as she was exploring my face, no teeth, she just knew to be gentle.

The boys are crazy little tikes. They love exploring me and anything! They don't like to be petted or held because they are just too busy for that! I'm enjoying their time as hellions and do look forward to them becoming lazy men, but can certainly wait! All three have the softest fur I have ever felt, so thick and clean and white.

I have now lost my other three boys to old age and find Josie to be my greatest comfort. Perhaps it is because she has known loss. Her beautiful pink eyes are so clear and understanding. She has put her trust in me and has given me her world. Thank you Mainely Rat Rescue for helping me find my little trio of angels. I am grateful every day for their love and find such joy in watching them discover the small wonders each day brings. I have found happiness in tissues, hairties, and Cheerios… who knew?!



June 2008 By Nicole of Haverhill, MA

I knew that since Tooey was all by herself that she needed some friends. Rats are little furry friends that need to be in company with their own kind. I was unaware of this at the time I adopted her and then learned from many sources about this fact. I finally researched for a couple months to find the perfect place to adopt. I checked petfinder.com and even on craigslist. I finally chose the perfect place to find my new furry friends. That is of course mainely rat rescue. I searched for a while until I found the fruity babies. I thought how adorable. I knew I wanted my rat to have a black hood because Tooey is all white and I didn’t want them all to look too much alike. All of those babies were absolutely adorable and it did not matter which baby I got. The boys were VERY cute, I especially liked Kiwi but I wanted to have 3 girls. In the end I now have Pineapple and Nectarine. I was referred to Paula for the adoption and it was so quick and easy. Luckily, she lived only 15 minutes away so I could get them easily. On the day of the pickup I brought my Jeep Cherokee thinking that I could fit this massive cage in my car but unfortunately I did not. Thanks to Paula and her husband I got a carry case (WHICH I LOVE) to bring them home and Paula and her husband help me fit the cage in the car. I thank MRR, Paula and her husband for all their help and doing such a great thing by helping rescue ratties. ~Nicole

Necta & Pine Necta Pine Necta, Pine and Tooey Necta and Pine Tooey



May 2008 By Thomasena of Gorham, ME

I adopted three adorable girls from you. Their names are Mercury, Venus and Luna. They live with my boy, Wade. They get along fabulously! They groom each other and sleep in a big pile in their hammock. They live in a big ferret cage with different levels and I love watching them run up and down the levels stashing their food. They also play together and popcorn around. They have brought me such joy in the short time I have had them and I wanted to thank you for the hard work you do! They would thank you if they could too; they seem really happy together. Thank you again! ~Thomi Luna & Venus Mercury & Wade




March and April 2008

March and April's website additions and adoptions are dedicated to the memory of Mango, a little PEW boy who passed away before his story could be written. Mango was in a feeder bin at a pet store when he fell ill and was taken to the Canobie Lake Vet Hospital in NH for treatment. With a head tilt due to a large abscess next to his ear, anemia because the lice were so bad and an upper respiratory infection, Mango was in rough shape but found safety in the loving arms of a technician at the hospital. Because of the medications he was on, Mango could no longer be sold as snake food and the technician was allowed to take him. Wanting the best for her new little train wreck, Lindsay contacted MRR for support in rehoming Mango once he recovered from his multiple ailments. Mango was a sweet boy who, unlike others who came from this particular feeder bin, had no fear of the humans who were caring for him and flourished in their loving care. He was in ratty heaven at Lindsay's house feasting on fruits and veggies and was named after his favorite of all, MANGO! Last night we posted Mango's picture in the adoption pages and prepared to write his story announcing him to potential adopters. This afternoon we got the sad news, Mango suffered a severe seizure and passed away at the hospital this morning after a long struggle this weekend. Our hearts go out to Lindsay and the others at Canobie Lake Vet who worked so hard trying to save Mango and we know the rat community thanks you for giving him love and a wonderful few weeks of life he would never have experienced otherwise. We are sure Mango is sitting on your shoulder right now Lindsay, whispering sweet "thank you's" in your ear <3



March 2008 Our Happy Ending story I know it is a happy ending that our two Fruity Boys, Papaya and Kiwi, have found their forever home but for our family we are just starting the "Once upon a time." One story is ending, and that would be our adoption process and another story just beginning, our new life with rats!


This all began for us with a little girl named Kylie who would not give up the idea of having pet rats, something I must admit I had never imagined for our family. After watching her prove she was responsible and seeing her dedication to learning about rats we figured it would be a birthday present. We started to hunt on-line for some friends for Kylie. When I found the Mainely Rat Rescue site, and took one look at the Fruity Boys and Girls I knew we just had to adopt from this rescue. My whole experience with MRR has been so wonderful. I couldn't have asked for a better experience. When Kim let us know we could adopt, Kylie was shown the site and picked her two babies! For the next ten days (time until they would be ready for adoption) all I heard was "I can't wait". Our trip to pick them up was so exciting. Once in the car and driving away our next story begins...

I turned around to look back at Kylie sitting there with her new babies and she was so happy. I quickly got the camera and took her picture, I just had to capture that moment of pure happiness. Little did I know that I really did not need to capture the moment because it has not ended yet! Kylie still has that same huge smile on her face that she had the moment she took them in her arms. Papaya and Kiwi are proving to be fun for the whole family, they share their love with all of us. Kiwi is loving exploring his new home and seems to be the most curious of the two. Papaya is more cautious but also rules the cage so I think once he has adjusted to his new home he will be just as curious as his brother. Right now they love taking a rope bridge from the cage to Kylie's bed and helping her with her homework. Mostly trying to steal her papers when she is not looking. Homework is taking a bit longer than it used to. Kiwi runs around everywhere and is easy to locate, Papaya on the other hand likes to find a way under the blanket that Kylie covers the bed with and you have to watch for the moving lump! Everything that they do is cute and no matter how strange having a rat for a pet might have sounded to us in the beginning I already can not imagine our family without them. I am so grateful to MRR (Kim) for their help and advice and friendship but mostly for that HUGE smile on Kylie's face when Papaya and Kiwi are hanging out with her.

Live Love Laugh, The Sumner Family




February 2008 - Behind the Scenes at the MRR Store By Patti Hanscom

Often times people wonder how an animal rescue, especially one geared towards small animals, is able to stay afloat. Between the food bills, vet bills, and the cost to transport rats all over New England and beyond, it can certainly put a strain on the budget.Some rescues rely solely on donations, some are funded by the pockets of the wonderful people running it, some provide goods or services, and some, like us, do a combination of the above.

While we do receive some funds from donations and adoption fees, the vast majority of our funding comes through our online store. With ever growing vet bills, and an almost constant influx of new rats needing our help, it would be impossible for us as a rescue to survive without the support and business we receive from our customers. We have an ever expanding network of supporters, ranging throughout New England, all the way across the country, as well as Canada! It is wonderful knowing there are those out there in different states and countries helping support our efforts to rehome these wonderful creatures.

For those that haven't visited our store, we offer a wide variety of pet and people related goods, including Wodent Wheels, Old Mother Hubbard treats, "designer" food bowls, treat jars, and a variety of handmade hammocks, including several original MRR designs! We also recently released a Hammock of the Month Club, where you can pay a 3, 6 or 12 month subscription fee, and receive a new hammock in the mail each month.

It may be a lot of work updating inventory, making hammocks, corresponding with customers, and doing all the other store related needs, but it is certainly worth it in the end. To date, our online store has raised over $2,000 since it opened in October 2007, allowing us to care for rats we otherwise never would have been able to help. We are ever grateful for every cent we have received to help care for these often misunderstood creatures. Your support truly means the world to these rats, and I don't know how we would do it without the support of all of you out there!



January 2008 - The Story of Morris By Annie Frelich

We recently adopted an adorable neutered boy rat from Mainely Rats Rescue and our experience was just wonderful. We had two PEW girls that we had taken home from a pet store this summer. We fell madly in love with them and sometime over the holiday vacation we knew that it was time to add to our rattie family. We wanted to try a male rat this time and found out about MRR through the internet. We put our trust in MRR to pick out a rat that would be good for us and our two females. Lo and behold, Kim informed us that they had the perfect boy for us. His name was Morris and he was already neutered and ready to find a home. He was around the same age as our girls and he was having a hard time living with his male cage mates because he was being bullied. What Morris needed was just what we have to offer: a nice quiet home with two girl rats.

Since we were far away in Vermont the great folks at MRR helped to transport Morris to a nearby location where we could pick him up with ease. At last we met our Morris. He was so healthy and well cared for! After a few squirmy minutes, he decided to sleep on my lap the whole way home. We were instantly in love with him!

In the days that followed we were very concerned about introductions to our girls. It was very intense complete with angry rats hissing, leaping 2 feet in the air and tufts of hair flying. Kim was on the phone with me every day talking me through each step and encouraging me not to give up. Paula and Gayle also helped by both email and phone. We were backed up by MRR's full support team!

Today Morris is happily frolicking (he hops like a bunny) or lounging with his two lady friends. He is very athletic and energetic. He runs REALLY fast and man can he jump and climb! We think that he enjoys showing off his skills to impress the girls. We had a Wodent wheel that had never been used ( the girls just didn't get it). Morris has now taught them both how to run on it, and now they all take turns on it during playtime. He will cuddle with us now and then especially when he can curl up in his special winter hat while doing so.

His initial shyness with us is lessening each day. He is an expert manicurist and hairdresser...grooming us with great enthusiasm. Yesterday we got our first face kisses from him. He is always first at the door when there is food involved!

What was life like without our dapper little gentleman cavorting in his curly haired tuxedo? We can barely remember, but for certain it wasn't nearly as much fun as it is now! Thank you MRR for matching us up with Morris! We look forward to adopting more ratties from you all in the future.

Sincerely, Annie and Stephen




3/3/08 "I just wanted to let you know that the girls are doing great and adjusting really well to their new home. I've given them the new names of Charlotte(akaJill) and Fern (aka Ellie) after characters from Charlotte's Web. Charlotte is incredibly friendly and loves to crawl around all over everyone.Fern is a little shyer and prefers to hide under blankets and cushions, but is not skittish of people at all. I love them dearly and I cannot thank you and everyone at Mainely Rat Rescue enough for these girls and for all of the work you are doing. Thank you so much!" From Matt in NY

_MG_0715.jpg Charlotte and Matt picture by MaineRatRescue

1/23/08 Yuri and Leonardo are adapting very quickly to their new home. Yuri was actually vocalizing on the second day here, making little happy chirpy noises. Neither Star nor Sable did that for months, and Lola only occasionally vocalizes even now after 6 months with us. Yuri and Leonardo’s personalities are shining through clearly. This picture actually shows the difference well: Read HERE for the rest of their Happily Ever After! 9/8/07 Gulliver has found his forever home! He will be getting neutered 0n Wednesday at Pine Point Animal Hospital in Scarborough, ME . Gully will be meeting his new Mom, Kerry, on Saturday and moving to Merrimack NH to live with 2 sweet litte girlie rats. We think he'll be in heaven for sure! 9-3-07 Two dumbo boys have found a loving forever home with Kim's daughter, Elizabeth and her boyfriend Joe. These rats came from a neglect situation in Southern Maine where their former owner did not have the resources or proper information to care for her rats so she voluntarily surrendered them knowing it was in their best interest. Here are a couple pics of the happy parents with their new additions!

December 2007 - Through the Eyes of a Foster Parent, "Help for Tina and Pearl" Revised ~By Marlena

When I learned about the Mainely Rat Rescue, I wasn't looking for any new rats. My boyfriend and I had four healthy, happy rats who made us so happy, we didn't even consider the possibility of adding to our brood. That is, until I discovered Moose. Moose was an overweight male rat who had been shuffled from a shelter to a foster home to another foster home. For most of his life, he had never had a home that was really his. Moose's story spoke to me, and I showed his profile to my boyfriend. That same day, we applied for Moose.But this story isn't actually about Moose. Moose was simply the key to the door that let us into Mainely Rat Rescue.

Now involved in the rescue as adopters, we received an email about two female rats in danger of being euthanized, Tina and Pearl. Tina and Pearl had been left at a shelter due to "loss of interest," then moved to a foster home until their foster had to leave for college, and then back to another shelter. They both had tumors, Tina's were large while Pearl's was a single new growth. As one might imagine, it's difficult to place a rat with large tumors which will need surgery, never mind two, and Tina and Pearl remained at the shelter.

The foster parent cleaned out her savings and offered it to the Mainely Rat Rescue in hopes that they could provide the surgery and place the girls, but they had no fosters available to send the girls for recuperation. In this same time period, we were offered a large cage, and I immediately thought of Tina and Pearl.

When we first got the girls home, they were both worn out and exhausted by the rigors of travel and shelter living. Imagine for a moment the constant noise and activity there must be at a shelter. For a rat who usually sleeps during the day, her sleeping hours are spent in a whirlwind of activity. This isn't to say that shelters don't do the best they can, but they aren't exactly set up to cater to a nocturnal animal's needs. Seeing those girls pass out the moment they arrived in our quiet house really brought into focus how exhausting it must be to live in a shelter. The next day they were much more themselves, and we were taken by their incredible sweetness. We were warned that Tina sometimes bit people who invaded her territory, but it was really more of the tasting that rats typically do on fingers, not malicious. They loved being near us and climbing on us, quite a departure from our fiercely independent four who loathe to be picked up and prefer exploring to hanging out with mom and dad. We quickly fell in love with them, and I kept reminding myself that we were foster parents, and someday Tina and Pearl would have new parents, who loved them just as much as I did.

Healthwise, aside from the tumors, Tina was perfectly fine. She gamboled around the bed, pried our fingers apart for treats with the strength of a human three year old, and ate any food put before her (except freeze-dried strawberries, nobody liked those). Pearl, on the other hand, clearly had some other issues. She seemed to prefer CareFresh to food, didn't really focus on anything when she looked around, and followed Tina completely. At their first vet visit, we mentioned the possibility of blindness, and the vet said it could be possible. She also said that it could be a result of further health problems occurring in Pearl. Both rats were assessed for surgery to remove their tumors, and it was agreed that both rats would be done the following week. I knew that soon after the tumor removal, Tina and Pearl would be ready for adoption, and I knew that with their sweet temperaments, they would be adopted quickly.

Unfortunately, the following week, Pearl developed some respiratory problems which prevented her from having surgery. We were briefed in the office that Pearl may have significant health problems, and advised as to things we might see if she had a brain tumor. We were given medications for her respiratory issues, and brought her home with heavy hearts. Here was this little rat who was the sweetest creature I had ever known, who had spent about twenty-five percent of her life in shelters and foster homes, and may die in a foster home. I knew, realistically, that it would be very hard to find someone willing to adopt a rat who would probably need more vet care than most rats, and that Pearl and Tina couldn't be adopted apart. Pearl looked to Tina for guidance, and was lost without her. I hoped that the medications would turn Pearl around, and she'd be able to have surgery. I wanted to be a successful foster and make the girls ready to meet the world.

The good news was, the medicine seemed to help Pearl's breathing, and she was definitely eating better. She came out to play more often and stayed out of the cage longer. She was becoming more social and happy and snuggley. I couldn't wait for her to go back to the vet to hear how well she was doing. Except, even with her increased appetite, she had lost weight. Weight loss in animals, unless they're overweight, is never a good sign, especially if they've been eating. The vet recommended against putting Pearl through the surgery, and suggested concentrating on giving Pearl a happy life. Kim asked if we'd be interested in adoption.

I wasn't at that last appointment, my boyfriend called me and let me know what happened, and I was a little shocked. I really thought that Pearl was doing well, and the idea that she may not have much time left filled me with sadness. In truth, before he even mentioned that Kim asked about adoption, I had already decided that was what Pearl deserved. She has settled into our home and habits, and I just couldn't bear the thought that she might die in a home not her own. It's true that the love we have for her is the same whether as a foster rat or our little Pearl-girl, but the bond is different. Before, we were her caretakers. keeping her happy and fed and social for her future parents, keeping a wall between us so it wouldn't hurt too badly to see her go.

Now the wall is gone and we're open to the hurt, but it's worth it just to look at those girls and know that they are ours. That all of the moving and shuffling and stress are over for them, they are home.