Written by Poppy’s carer, Mat
“I never thought I would grow to love a rat” my mother said to me one night while Poppy, our rescue rat, nuzzled her head into the crook of my mum’s armpit and began to drift off to sleep.
Poppy spent many nights on the couch with me, scurrying out of her hidey-hole to nibble on some treats before eventually falling unconscious in the front pocket of my hoodie. Her eyes would begin wide open, but would gradually close as I stroked her head with my index finger, just as I would do with the cats and dogs I have previously had in my life. However, life wasn’t always like this for Poppy.
We first rescued her alongside her sister, Clover. Having previously only had dogs and cats, we didn’t know much about rats. We thought the best thing for them would be to leave them alone in their enclosure, as they probably don’t like humans and prefer each other’s company. We cleaned their enclosure every week, and picked them up every now and then, but never gave them the same level of attention we would to a dog or cat.
It wasn’t until Clover passed away that we felt the need to spend more time with poppy. We would have her on the couch whenever we decided to watch TV, I would let her rest in the hood of my jumper as I worked on university assignments, and we would even let her roam the house freely. After we changed the way we perceived, and therefore treated Poppy, we saw there was so much more depth to her personality than we had ever imagined.
She would run around the house, and once done exploring, she would scratch at my feet to let me know she was ready to be placed In my jumper for a nap. Upon waking, she would nibble on my ear as if to say, “good morning,” and she chattered her teeth together in joy when I stroked her in the right spot. Poppy isn’t around anymore, but she left behind a human who cares about her very much, and has changed his perception of rats forever.