Pet of the Day

September 7, 2002

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Sheila Rae, the Pet of the Day
Name: Sheila Rae
Age: Five months old
Gender: Female
Kind: Black Hooded Rat
Home: Columbia, Missouri, USA
 
   Sheila Rae is named after the children's book character, Sheila Rae the Brave. She is fearless, and picks on our poor ferret all the time. She is the first rat I have ever known personally, and she has taught me a lot. For instance, rats do not have naked tails; they are actually covered with tiny bristly hair. And their little hands are so cunning! They even have vestigial thumbs. Their teeny claws are very sharp, so they can climb anything from curtains to cages with ease, and they leave unintentional scratches on human skin. She greedily grabs any food I offer her with her fat little arms, and loves just about anything--caramelized pine nuts, almonds, pizza, dried papaya...

    She's a little slob, and now I know firsthand what they mean by the expression "rat's nest." Cedar shavings are not very healthy bedding for small animals, so I give her old t-shirts to cuddle up in, and she likes chewing them up and stuffing them with shredded newspaper. She recently lost her sister to an ear infection, so I try to give her the attention she once got from her close friend. She likes when I "groom" her and appreciates the physical contact. That she could have met with the awful fate of being a laboratory rat, or might have just as easily ended up as snake food makes her a very lucky girl indeed!
 

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