Obligatory Rate Update!

All of the wee little miscreants have names now. The dumbo is Duke Dimwit of Flathead -- His Grace, for short -- the one who spends most of his time hiding in dark boxes is Grue, and the goons with the dark ear tips are Xyzzy and Plugh.

If you had anything constructive to do with your adolescence -- or are just younger than I am -- the Zork Wikia will tell you everything you need to know. tl;dr: The Flatheads are the disastrously foolish royal dynasty, grues are creatures who lurk in the dark and will eat you in a few turns if you don't scare them off with a lamp, and "xyzzy" and "plugh" are magic words, although what exactly they do depends on which game you're playing.

His Grace is of the opinion that he is personally the exact center of the universe, around which all other things revolve. This is not unusual for a rodent. All of them agree that I should really only be paying attention to one rat; they just disagree on which rat that is. Rats do display empathy towards each other (and to you, their human tender, whom they generally consider to be the biggest, weirdest-looking rat they've ever met), but so far as I have observed, it only kicks in when the other rat is sick, trapped, or otherwise in distress. When everybody is healthy, all bets are off. It's not unusual to see rats gathered around the communal food dish grab things out of it with one tiny greedy "hand", and use the other one to shove the neighboring rat's face out of the bowl. Flathead appears to be right-handed (yes, rats also have handedness; they're about one-third southpaw, with a very small percentage of ambidextrous critters), as that is the arm he shoves through the cage bars all the way up to the shoulder and waves at me when he thinks I have more Cheerios, and am holding out on him.

Grue is not really afraid of everything. He's just startled by everything. He was, in fact, the first one to realize that when I have the cage door propped out flat to play with them, he can climb out on it and smash himself against the front of my shirt. He flails like he's dying for a second when you pick him up, but once he realizes he's been scooped up for cuddles he's perfectly fine.

Grue and His Grace both desperately want to attain ROOF OF CAGE, but they're not yet allowed to unless I'm standing right there. Flathead has already managed to sneak out on me once, and had to be rescued from the bookcase. He has obviously not learned his lesson from being petrified into a bookend by the terror of open space, because he keeps trying to do it again.

Xizzy, on the other hand, has decided that pets = good. The first few weeks of new rats are always a game of 'where do you want to be scritched?' and Xizzy apparently wants his ears played with. His other main claim to fame is that he has now rolled off the edge of his nest box twice by grooming himself so intently he forgot about gravity, and once very nearly rolled himself off the edge of the upper story by stretching too enthusiastically after a nap. He seems to be getting rexier and rexier as he ages; I don't know how frizzy he'll end up by the end of the process, or whether his coat will wax and wane like a true rex rat, but he's got that forever-rumpled look. All of them have curly Fu Manchu-style whiskers, but Xizzy's tend to stick out in odd directions as well.

Plugh is growing into a large but simple creature. I'm not entirely sure how. About half the time, when I stick food into their house, Plugh looks up from his napping spot on the lower level, and decides he's too lazy to climb up and get it. He's not 100% clear on the idea of 'don't toof-test Mommy' (he's not biting, just scraping with his teeth as they do when grooming each other, and occasionally trying to trim my nails for me), but on the bright side, literally all he needs to be happy is the chance to exist on the inside of a box. Any box, of any description. He just hunkers down there, staring out at the world and chittering at nothing. He is not completely on board with the idea that Mommy gives out pets and can be climbed, but he's coming around.

All of them are tiny little food-absorbing black holes. I think they're hollow all the way through. Rats have an amazing capacity for tasty things anyway, but these guys are only a couple months old and still growing, so they're basically rat to the power of healthy teenage boy. I think they're eating their weight in food per diem right now.

Comments

  1. Grue sounds like the kind that would be nicknamed "Spook" if he were a horse.

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    Replies
    1. Ha. Yes. Fortunately, he is much smaller. And when he bolts, it's straight into a box, so at least I know where he is. He pokes his nose right back out, he's just on a hair trigger.

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