Thinking of getting a pet? Consider a rat, says blogger Rattus Yu

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Aug 22, 2014 in Rat Answers | Subscribe

You may have heard of people sharing their households with pets as exotic as tarantulas and pythons. But have you ever considered keeping and caring for an animal as common as a pest—say, a rat?

Changing the public’s mind about rats as pets is the mission of Rattus Yu, who has been keeping rats for pets since 2009. Rattus considers herself “a single mom to a bunch of adorable pet rats” when she isn’t blogging about food or beauty products.

Rattus revealed in an interview on “News to Go” on Friday that she adopted the nickname “Rattus” from the brown rat’s scientific name, rattus norvegicus.

She also shared that her pets and the rats running loose around the metro are of the same species. The difference is that her pets were born and bred as pets and so are used to human beings. Of course, Rattus breeds them herself.

It isn’t surprising that she also catches wild baby rats and raises them.

“Dati, noong panahon ng 2012, nakahuli po ako nang dalawa—magkapatid po sila,” she said.

“Napalaki ko naman sila. Kaya lang yung isa, namatay din kasi. Yung isa, nagkaroon po siya ng anak, and ito po yung mga resulting [offspring].”

Clean and healthy

For her interview, Rattus brought two of her babies, Squall and Soriel, to the studio.

They were quiet and well-behaved in their cage. Rattus said that that they would not get loose and disappear into the building.

To demonstrate, she took Soriel from his cage and cradled him like a baby. Sure enough, the rat climbed up to one shoulder, traveled to the other, and then generally stayed put.

Rattus said that her family and neighbors don’t mind her keeping the rats, as they are often just in their cages and she separates the males from the females.

This is also why she is confident that her pets do not pose a threat to the health of her loved ones, although she admitted that they  have not been vaccinated.

“’Di sila gumagala-gala sa mga canals o imburnal,” she explained. “So, therefore, malinis po sila at wala po silang sakit. Tsaka, nababasa ko naman kasi online sa mga literature na ganun talaga silang mga pet rats—hindi naman po sila nagdadala ng sakit.”

She also feeds them clean food—barley, which can be bought for P25 a kilo at a poultry store, although rice is also adviseable
But Rattus wasn’t always a fan of her namesake animal.

“Dati, pag nakakita po ako ng daga, hindi mo po ako mapapalapit kahit isang metro lang,” she shared, smiling.

“One day, nakita ko sila sa isang pet shop. Merong isang pair ng rats—kulay itim yung ulo niya tapos yung rest of nung body niya, kulay white. Sabi ko, ‘ang cute naman niya, kakaiba!’”

“After a few days, binalikan ko po sila. Nag-alaga ako ng pet rats. Then after three months, na-overcome ko na talaga yung fear ko of rats,” she said.

But why rats?

Rattus has no uncommon reason for keeping rats as pets.

“Para po kasi silang pet dog—very intelligent po sila,” she explained.
“Halimbawa, pag-uwi niyo po ng bahay, nakikila po nila kung sinong nag-aalaga sa kanila tapos sinasalubong ka nila kaagad. Nakakakilala po sila ng tao.”

She also asserted that they have personalities, just like any other pet.

“Minsan nga, umaakyat sila sa shoulder ko at kinakagat-kagat nila yung tenga ko—it’s a sign of affection,” she revealed.

She was quick to assert that this bite was of the nibbling kind and that her pets are gentle creatures—not the aggressive pets that roam the city’s sewers. She has never once been bitten out of aggression by her pets.

She said that she sometimes brings them to her room and lets them play around in order to get used to people. She also takes them to the poultry store some blocks from her house in order to expose them to other people. They are content to ride on her shoulder. “Nakikilala nila yung scent ko,” she said.

A new image to the public

Rattus is not unaware of what sicknesses rats may herald. Examples include leptospirosis—which can be caught if a person with an open wound walks through floods that may contain animal urine; and the plague disease, also known as the Black Death—the virus of which was carried by fleas on the backs of rats and killed 200 million people in Europe from 1346 to 1353. Rattus understands that the image of the rat is dark and bleak.

Still, it pains her to read about how rats are treated around the city, especially with regard to extermination. However, she said, “Pero ginagawa ko rin yung part ko to make people aware na hindi sila ganoong ka-ferocious or vicious na animals.”

She does this by posting pictures of her pets (and herself with them) on her Facebook page. The image of rats that she would like to present the public is that of cute, human-friendly animals.

Rattus even recommends rats as pets for children. “Hindi sila high maintenance, madali silang pakainin, tapos super friendly sila—wala silang attitude problem,” she said. “Basta bigyan niyo po sila nang maraming time and affection—as long as sanay na sila sa inyo, very comfortable na sila sa tao.” — Vida Cruz/JDS, GMA News

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