We hadn’t had Seven and Nine for long before I was sure that I would want to Get More Rats, but, being practical and aware of their relatively short lifespan, I decided that it would be sensible to wait until the first pair were at least a year old before adding to the horde.
So, less than eight months later, we found ourselves in the local pet shop making arrangements to pick up two adorable, tiny ratlets.
Named, by Codepope, after River Song from Doctor Who; this too has to be explained to everyone they are introduced to.
They are both white with chocolate-brown hoods. Song is slightly darker brown, has a distinct spot on her back below the hood, another tiny one just above the base of her tail, and a narrow white stripe down her throat. River has a broken stripe below her hood and a much wider stripe down her throat. Song has a wonderfully silky coat, whereas River has a tendency to look like she’s been dragged through a hedge backwards.
Song started out as the smallest of all our rats, but over the last few months she has turned into fat rat the incredible food thief and is now the largest of them — though if Nine hadn’t become lumpy rat then she would still outweigh her. Song is always hungry and will, very deftly, steal food from anyone else who has some; her speed and precision is quite remarkable to watch. It’s hard not to admire the skill, even as you’re admonishing her for removing food from the mouths of other rats.
River isn’t far behind in the must-have-food stakes, though she is more selective as to what she has to have. I once made the mistake of trying to eat a shortcake biscuit while they were all out and, after fending off the ratties crawling along my arm to get at it, ended up with River hanging off the biscuit by her teeth. Hard to be mad with them when you’re practically crying with laughter.
In the first few months we had them, their energy and their extra-spiky claws earned them the nickname the demon twins; they are now nineteen months old and far more chilled than they used to be. River has her spot on the back of the sofa from where she can survey her domain — not that she looks that impressed with it — and Song no longer runs around like a lunatic all of the time, although she still has the ability to teleport around when she’s in the mood and she still dives under my t-shirt whenever I take her out of the cage — skin, apparently, being her preferred climbing surface.