I finally lost the broken rat yesterday.

He fell or jumped out of the cage the night before; I woke up to find him sleeping in one of my shoes, next to the bed. I tried to put him back into the nest box with his brothers, but he emphatically did not want to be set down -- every time I tried it, he hauled himself back up to the cage door and went NO, UPMOMMYUP! So, aside from a few times I had to run to the bathroom, and once out to the grocery store, he spent his last few hours wrapped in a warm towel, and draped over my shoulder like a sleepy baby.

I think I am proud to report that my rats are so spoiled that this one felt free to complain about bits of carrot in his baby food -- and flick them distastefully in random directions with his nose -- while he was being hand-fed out of a spoon, lying across my lap. I capitulated and just gave him my own cheese and broccoli soup the night before. His last nibbles were chunks of canned peaches, which he quite enjoyed.

One of nature's small mercies is that what very little animals actually die of, ultimately, is a stroke or a clot of some kind. They're always very surprised -- but only for a moment. He was a very well-cared for rat, with a coat burnished from petting and more food than he could possibly ever need, right until the end.

He has been laid to rest in a swatch of their cage blanket, with his Rat-Hulk costume, and a handful of cereal. I try to always make sure they go off into the afterlife warm, with some of their favorite objects, and more than enough snacks.

Letting go of the little body is one of the least upsetting parts, at least for me. Wild rats are prey; even with my domestic funeral arrangements, he will eventually become a meal for insects and bacteria. With as much time as they spend eating, I think it would appeal to rats on a philosophical level -- if rats had a philosophical level -- to know that when they no longer need their bodies, they'll be food for something else in turn. What kind of creatures would we be, I wonder, if we had absolute proof that when we died, we'd become one of the things we loved most?

It's a bit chilly in my room tonight, and all of us are apparently having sinus problems, so the remaining two are sleeping in a furry pile of snorble noises in the corner of their cage. I feed them every time I walk past their cage; I'm sure they have no idea why, but it's food, so they're not asking too many questions.

Bones, in better days, sleeping contentedly on their makeshift "balcony".


  1. So sorry that you have lost the broken rat :<( The picture won't show for me.

  2. My sympathy and condolences. The little buggers live far, far too short a time. X


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