Having pets is fun. Dogs and cats make great companions and are pretty common. But how about an animal that’s a bit more obscure – such as a rat or squirrel?
Those are just two of some of the wacky animals we’ve taken care of at our house, which we used to refer to as The Zoo.
I think the more normal of the two are probably the rats, which we had three of. Named Leroy, Pepper, and Bean, our rats were some of my favorite pets ever.
Rats are actually very friendly and social animals. Even my mother, who was not at all thrilled about them at first, grew to like them. Whenever you’d walk into our room, the rats woke up and began clamoring against the bars of their cage, almost like a dog who is excited to see you. They loved to be held and never once bit me, as hamsters and gerbils have done in the past.
The only downfall of keeping rats is their lifespan, which is only 1 to 2 years. My rats reached their lifespan this past Autumn, and I miss their bright eyes and friendly personalities.
The crazy squirrels, however, were a little different. Several years ago we raised two squirrels, Rocky and Daisy, when their parents disappeared and weren’t taking care of them anymore. We began by feeding them with a formula made for all different types of animals out of a little baby bottle while they were wrapped in a towel.
They were so cute, tiny and soft.
When Rocky and Daisy began to grow older, they got a little crazy. After all, they were wild animals, and their natural instinct was still in them. Sometimes Rocky would get frightened by a loud noise and shoot off under a couch, where we’d have to slowly and gently coax him out. They were both notorious for climbing up your body like a tree, which was pretty painful due to their claws.
When they were fully grown, we slowly acclimated them to life outside. They’d often come to our window looking for a snack, like peanuts or popcorn. Their visits slowly became less frequent and then stopped as they became wild squirrels once more.
Having these animals was truly a lot of fun. The rats were wonderful pets and it was exciting to rehabilitate the orphan squirrels to their natural habitat.
(Editor’s note: Reach wildlife rehabilitation experts by calling Red Creek Wildlife Center at 570-739-4393. In most cases, abandoned or injured wild animals need to be taken to the center in Schuylkill Haven, Schuylkill County, according to redcreekwildlifecenter.com).