Rat update: They are settling in nicely. They have already figured out that when I take their bowl away, it's going to come back with food in it. They are starting to catch on that whenever Mommy is happy, sad, angry, frustrated, bored, anxious, impatient, tired, awake, or any other emotion really, she deals with it by poking food through the bars of their cage. "Keeping Arabella company," is an exceedingly cushy gig for a rat. I promised the little boogers they'd be fat all their lives, and I intend to follow through.

The dumbo has such a flat skull and such low-set ears, he looks like he's had his little head bonked in with a dictionary. He has been christened Duke Dimwit of Flathead, in the grand Infocom style. Presumably a distant ancestor of Lord Dimwit Flathead the Excessive. His Grace is probably going to be the alpha rat, and he's probably also going to be a benevolent dictator. Dumbos usually are. Rats with the dumbo mutation generally get to be big solid things -- Yuki was a dumbo, and Jazmin called her "Ocitita" ("little girl-bear") for a very good reason. Colossal domestic rats don't really fight so much as they get their way by sort of existing in a state of unmitigated hugeness. They tend to settle food bowl squabbles by hip-checking the other rat out of the way, and then casually standing on his face.

On the bright side, they also tend to be docile and friendly in that way that happens when a creature has always been the center of the known universe and has absolutely no reason to believe that any harm will in any way befall them, ever. Sort of like the Tick.

One of the top-ears is violently startled by everything on the face of the Earth. He's not really scared of things, per se; it's just that his panic reflex is on a hair trigger, and he has to jump and clobber himself on the inside of the box or fall out of the hammock or ricochet off the wall before he realizes it's fine and he can come take the Cheerios from my hand. Things that have taken him unawares: Loud noises, soft noises, sudden noises, predictable noises, food, the water bottle, the crinkle of his own bedding, me, the other rats, himself, puffs of air, shadows, absolutely nothing that I could perceive, and more. I feel ya, little buddy, believe me. He has spent so much time diving into dark boxes to hide that I have dubbed him Grue.

[Edit: I took Grue on purpose. He was the only one trying to bury himself head-first in the pile of bedding and brother rats when I went to pick them up. I let three of the usual friendly idiots pick me, and then scooped up the one who was terrified of life. I figured he'd be better off with someone who has loads of experience with both rats and panic attacks.]

Still have no idea what to call the other two. One of them is quite bold and will come up to the cage door to climb on Mommy's arm, and has decided that ear scritches = good. The other one is slightly more skittish. Suggestions?

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