For as long as I can remember I have be known for my love of animals. Like most kids we had pet guinea pigs and rabbits, and I even had “pet” lady birds for which I would very careful pick nettles full of green flies for them to eat (Don’t judge, I was a child!). Always described as an animal lover, this term has never felt truer than since becoming vegan 7 years ago.
And when I say animal lover, I mean ALL animals. Slimy slugs, flapping pigeons, crawling spiders, slithery worms, scaly fish, creepy bats and dirty rats. All of them deserve as much respect as cats, dogs, monkeys, rabbits and any other animals humans typically hold dear to their hearts. There is something that draws me to the animals which few consider worthy of attention, or even worse, animals which some actively dislike.
It was around the time I became vegan that looked giving a home to rescued rats and I’ve never looked back! My first love was a little boy called Sam, who related to me by grooming my face, gently licking and nibbling my eyebrows. Like something out of a Disney film, he even once licked my tears when I lay crying on my bed after reading about a rat experiment and feeling helpless and sad about the terror they must feel in such a situation.
My current bunch of four, two boys and two girls, each have a personality as individual as yours or mine. They enjoy galloping, yes rats gallop. They gallop, up and down the hallway, chasing my feet, jumping with excitement, and even lick my legs when I get out of the shower. Bathrooms are perfect rat proof room to let them have their daily run! Unlike their bold and aggressive public image, rats are very sweet, sensitive and wary of novel situations. It took a while to coax them out of their carry case into big open spaces at first!
Knowing the general public opinion of rats makes bus journey to the vets a slight trauma. Many will peer into the carry case expecting to see a cute kitty or a fluffy rabbit and looking back at them are rats! ARRRRGH! Even somewhere that you’d expect people to have a bit more empathy, the vet waiting room, prejudice is still encountered with some proudly informing me about how their dog catches rats! I take the opportunity to educate people that they are in fact intelligent, playful and loving animals and that my pet rats carry no more disease than their pet dog.
Maybe such prejudice comes from horror stories of the plague we are taught as kids, or the fact that rats are canny enough to have survived the unprecedented expansion of humans by living in the sewers built and filled by us! I admire them for their ability to thrive and adapt to a human dominated world where other animals have unfortunately ceased to exist.
The fact is, if you can extend your compassion and love those which others consider to be at the bottom of the pile, empathy for all living beings comes naturally.
Just look at these faces and tell me they ain’t adorable! If you are in the London area and would like to adopt some rats or other rodents, please get in contact via Mimi’s Rodent Rescue facebook and give a beautiful animal the life it deserves.
This article is dedicated to my two boys who passed away in between writing this post and publishing it. Two beautiful souls who will be missed.