Anastassia is working on getting a degree in Accounting. She is passionate about animals and literature.
‘Dracula!’ I would shout, tripping on my roommate’s sport shoes, trying to get him before he would be out of reach. Dracula, my white rat of 7 months, had already disappeared behind my bed to chew on some old crackers.
My rat was happy, he lived in a big cage with his brother, Remi (who belonged to my roommate). They had all the food they ever needed and all the toys - they were treated like Kings. But why did I get a rat instead of a dog? I can already see the disgust on your faces- but keep reading and you will understand.
On September 15, my roommate and I decided we wanted to get an animal because it would make the college experience more fun. The only animal allowed in a college bedroom was a fish. We had planned on having two each and naming them weird names like -Chacha and Jull. Anyway, we kept on planning the room so the fishes would have space and who’s turn it would have been to feed them and change the water.
Twelve days later, we decided it was time to go to the pet store and get our future aquatic pets. As we arrived there, we decide to look at all the animals: the rodents. We saw the rats and immediately stopped and looked at them, jumping and running on the blue wheel.
‘Want to get them instead?’ I sarcastically said.
‘We’d get in so much trouble.’ my roommate responded. I rolled my eyes and moved on to the guinea pigs. We both found them too big and looked at the rabbits that were chewing on some lettuce.
We stayed in the pet store for at least half an hour before deciding on choosing the rats - With the great help of one of the clerks, Nelson. He had a witty sense of humor and was very honest about the shop’s products, which helped us immensely to chose the right products for our rats.
I was reading the novel Dracula, for an English class at the time and was very obsessed with it; therefore I chose a white rat with red piercing eyes and named him Dracula.
My roommate chose a white rat with black spots on his spine and named him Louis, at first.
Of course, as college students, rats were not allowed, so we snuck them in pretending we were carrying school books. Arriving, at our room, we pet them for a bit and started to assemble the 90$ cage we bought. It took us an hour and another of our friends to build the cage. When we were done, we placed them under the mirror, next to our closet and our bathroom door. They had chew toys and a pink water bottle and a blue wheel just like at the store. We wanted them to feel at home. My roommate changed his name at least twice from Louis to Remi, without deciding, but she went with Remi from Ratatouille because it is ‘a fantastic movie’ she would say.
At first, the rats were scared of their new environment, but they soon started to got out of the small house we bought them started to play around to discover the three-floored cage where the lived in.
Over the next few weeks, our rats started to develop a personality: Dracula would never drink water and would eat healthy, like his mama. Remi, was the complete opposite, he drank and ate a lot, he would even push his brother, Dracula, so he would arrive at the food first. Dracula would get scarred more often and would pee as a result. Remi was more clean. When we woke up every morning, they would be curled up together, keeping each other warm from the breeze of the night and our heart would melt.
My roommate and I would always get distracted when we had to do homework, so every ten minutes or so, we would sit on the floor and let out babies out of the cage for them to run around the room and chase them every time they would go into the closet and hide in our shoes.
Rats are very clever, so me and my roommate wanted to train them so that a specific sound would mean they are about to get food. But we never got around to it. We fed them lettuce, carrot and banana and nuts and Roden food of course. They would be curious about everything, making us interested in them. We made two houses for them using tissue boxes, and they were so happy they would nap all day in there. I loved the fact that even though they had a tissue box of their own, they would always chose to sleep together.
When they were on our beds, we would tickle them and they would make happy noises and would jump around (which is called popcorning): My roommate’s heart melted every time.
I was going through some issues at the time and I needed someone to comfort me, and they helped. I would both put them on my bed, and they would come to my face to kiss, lick or bite my face. Just the ability to pet them made me happier. They were my support animal and I needed them at the time.
However, when you get rodents, it is not easy to travel and it became a problem when we had our Christmas holidays coming up. I had to go back to Paris and she was going to visit Hungry, so where were they going to go? We tried to find friends and relatives that would keep them, but no one was willing. We had to give them up and it broke both of our hearts.
It was a good college experience and I will tell my children and grandchildren about one semester in college when me and my roommate had rats and they were our best friend for five whole months.
© 2020 Anastassia de Bailliencourt