Mostly, I wonder why some people have pets, or what they think animals are like. J and I worry almost endlessly about doing the right things for our fuzzies – is their diet healthy enough, are they getting tubby, are they too hot in the summer or too cold in the winter; is the cage big enough, are they getting enough exercise; was that one sneeze the start of something sinister or did s/he just get a bit of dust up her/his nose? It’s probably just as well we never had children, we’d be unbearable.
But it seems that almost every day on various rat groups and forums I read tales of rescued rats who have been neglected, fed the wrong things or not at all, left in filthy cages and so on. Now, granted, when we started keeping rats there was less information around than there is now, and we didn’t necessarily get it right in the beginning.* But now, there are so many groups and websites full of information that you are practically falling over it. And surely rule one before getting any pet is to be sure that you know how to look after it.
The latest one I have just read involves a couple of young female rats who were kept in a plastic box in the owner’s garage. That’s a bad start, but when you read that the owner didn’t give them any water because she didn’t know they needed it, your mind starts to boggle somewhat. How can you not know that an animal needs water? We need water, dogs and cats need water. Where on earth did she get the poor things from, if the person selling them didn’t say “Do you have suitable food and a water bottle?” This is why I am opposed to selling animals in pet shops – they are not a simple commodity, like a toaster or a cd, they are living creatures who need care and attention. If the shop cannot advise properly on correct care they should not be selling animals. And if the buyer thinks a living creature isn’t going to need food, water, exercise, attention, stimulation and cleaning out, then they should consider getting a pet rock instead.**
I’m sorry for the slightly ranty post, but it does annoy me that some people still seem to view a pet as a possession which can be thrown away if it becomes ill or if they get bored with it. Luckily, my friends who have pets are responsible and caring, because I wouldn’t be able to bite my tongue if I actually knew someone who treated animals badly.
To lighten the mood a little, and show you how dumb I can be – today was cage cleaning day. Samhain and Saturnalia had some suspicious red splashes on one of their wooden ledges, and I said to J “That’s not porphyrin, is it? I haven’t heard them sneezing, hope they’re not becoming ill.” Then, on fishing out some more pink-stained paper bedding, I remembered that they had frozen red berries yesterday afternoon – fruit juice stains on wood look a lot like porphyrin. Well, at least I didn’t panic that it might be blood.
* We got it so wrong. Bought from a pet shop. The first pair lived in a tank, on wood shavings. But we learned from our mistakes.
** Can you still get them? Or was it just a 1980s thing?