This is sort of an extra bonus post, about my problem child, Mr Pickles.
Mr Pickles is a pet shop rat. He’d been returned at maybe three months old along with his cage, with the request that they rehome him as the original purchaser couldn’t keep him. The problem with this being that the cage was worth far more than Mr P, and he then sat in the pet shop taking up space for a couple more months while they failed to get the price they wanted for the cage plus rat.
Along came a friend of mine who heard the staff discussing putting him in the freezer as snake food and selling the cage. Long story short, I gained a rat.
Now this rat had been kept on his own, hardly handled, flicked on the nose to cure him of biting, and was very much broken. It took me quite a while to get him accepted into the second cage group I tried him with, but in the meantime he became my best friend. I was his refuge from the scary rats that wanted to sniff him. They really were scary. Mr Pickles’ reaction to being approached by any one of this very gentle group of buck rats was to hitch his skirts and run squealing.
Given a few months he has become much, much calmer, is settled nicely into the group and seems like one of the boys. He reacts more or less like a normal rat. So when I moved them into a different (but very similar) cage last week to allow me to deep clean the one they were in, I did not expect it to turn him into a nervous wreck. But he became very, very broken again. Not with the other rats this time, but with me. Any attempt to handle him was met by a terrified screech, two foot levitation and going into hiding for the next hour. This went on for five days.
And then, last night, he was back to normal.
I dearly wish I could see just what was going on in that little head. I can only think that he has some sort of ratty version of PTSD. But what was it that flicked the switch and turned him back into scaredy rat? More to the point, what suddenly turned him back again?
My very special Mr Pickles.