Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Rodent Woe

Rats have a pretty bad reputation, which I would imagine goes back to the year 1348 when their fleas managed to wipe out half of Europe. However, domesticated rats are the most intelligent, placid, and gluttonous of all pet rodents.

I have two rats, Webster and Fletcher, named after Jacobean playwrights (my previous pets, two mice, were called Shelley and Byron, and my daughter's gerbils are Virgil and Dante. We're a rather literary household).  They are brothers, Webster being the larger and fatter. I used to believe that Webster was the dominant one, until the one occasion they had a serious tussle and Fletcher - being lighter and faster - nearly tore his brother a new one. Since then their relationship has been a little less one-sided.

They enjoy coming out of their cage and sniffing around on the sofa, although you'd need the arms of an octopus to control them if they are out at the same time. Webster is especially bold. He will happily walk all over you.

As indeed he did, on one occasion when I was stretched out on the sofa watching a DVD. Webster padded across my chest, tried to burrow into my armpit, then tasted the cuff of my shirt.

  'Watch it, boy,' I grumbled, 'Anyone would think I was starving you.'

In response, he returned to my chest, sniffed my chin, and then his tongue lashed out and caught me on the lip.

'Oi!' I spluttered, but I was too late. Webster had decided that he liked the taste of my lip. His front paws extended, he grabbed my lower lip, pulled it down, and started lapping.

My eyes bulged, my arms flailed, and I emitted an indignant 'mmff!' of protest. I grabbed the rat, sprang to my feet and unceremoniously dumped him back in his cage, where he nonchalantly started grooming his brother.

So what is it like, you may wonder, being French Kissed by a rat?

It kind of tickles.

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