(To get caught up, read Part One and Part Two before proceeding.)

REVISED to include a picture of one of the main characters of this post. I tried and tried to get a pic, but these critters move at the speed of light, unless they’re sleeping, in which case, they’re buried under a mountain of litter….Thomas managed to get a shot last night, so I thought it’d be fun to include….

Yep, we came home with two glorified–CAGED–fancy rats, perhaps one of the BEST oxymorons ever coined (thanks Mert for pointing that out).  "Fancy rats" ranks up there with non-alcoholic beer, constant change, jumbo shrimp, genuine imitation, pretty ugly and Hell’s Angels :/.  Fancy rats…I’m still trying to figure out what the heck was "fancy" about them….

Proudly, Thomas set them on his dresser, and all of us watched, perversely fascinated with their rat-like activity.  They didn’t disappoint, they continued being cute in their rat-kinda way, but for the life of me NOW, I can’t quite recall what captured our attention. 

And then, Tad got home. 

As I heard him walking up the stairs, still watching Taz and Spaz quite literally "spin their wheels" (1,000 names considered and dismissed during the ride home), we were greeted with the words, "I’m not too happy with you."  I still don’t know if that was directed at me or Thomas, but I have a feeling it was evenly divided.

It appears "timing" was in Thomas’ favor.  At the EXACT moment Thomas phoned Tad, Tad had just gotten to his car to leave work.  He answered Thomas’ call, but within seconds, his boss called; consequently, Tad was distracted.  He doesn’t know how to answer a second call when he’s already on the line, so his goal was to get on and off with Thomas as quickly as possible, and call his boss back.  Thomas made an impassioned pitch, and I t h i n k Tad’s response wasn’t quite "Go for it", it was probably more like, "I dunno, Thomas, let’s think about this for 24 hours and decide if that’s REALLY how you want to spend your money, and once you’ve weighed EVERYTHING and thought about the other things you were saving your money for, and if you’re still sure you want to commit to cleaning their cage weekly for the rest of their lives and live with the noise of nocturnal creatures, if you’re still sure THEN, you can go for it."  I dunno, but I’m just thinking it went more like that.

There were a few more words exchanged between me and Tad, I’ll leave those to your imagination…think more "fire" than "ice"….

That night, we realized the rats were getting feisty.  Actually, that’s not entirely accurate.  The bigger rat, Spaz, was TERRORIZING the smaller rat, Taz.  That IS entirely accurate.  Spaz was CHASING his smaller companion around the cage, BITING him.  The little guy would squeak in defense and run away.  The problem was, it was a shared cage and there was no good place to run.  Mostly, Taz climbed the wire walls or cowered at the top of the beaded swing that came with the kit.  Rachel initially rolled her eyes at Taz and said he was just whiny trying to get the big one in trouble, but I think she was confusing the rats with her brothers. 

I watched the little guys for a while.  Spaz WAS attacking Taz, so by bedtime, I ended up separating the rats.  This was already causing me more trouble than I anticipated, so I wasn’t very nice to anyone, mammon or beast .  I put Spaz in the cardboard box they came home in, and by my bedtime, that buzzard had begun chewing through the air holes in the side of the box.  Tad told me to let it go outside, but there were freezing temps that night and I couldn’t find my way to killing the pet Thomas just bought, rat terrorist or not.  So, I had the bright idea to put the box in one of our showers, the one with glass doors that he couldn’t climb, in case he chewed a hole large enough to escape the box. 

The next morning, he was still in the box, and Thomas, who had given thoughtful consideration to our dilemma, asked if we could return both rats and get ONE hamster instead.  I figured it was worth a try.  We drove back to PetSmart, receipt from less than 24 hours ago in one hand, two fancy rats boxed in the other, and requested the return based on the aggressive behavior of Spaz.  Get this, the SAME employee who sold us the rats decided to THEN tell us, "Oh, yeah, there’s a definite rat hierarchy; if one’s bigger than the other, he’s likely to attack the smaller one."  Thanks for that little tidbit AFTER the fact.

So now we’re bP1010220ack to making a HAMSTER decision.  If you paid attention in the first post of this series (who the heck knew it would turn into a three-post rat rant???  Not me, I promise!), you’ll remember there were more than half a dozen choices for hamsters.  Of course, my favorites were the black bear and panda hamsters.  Thomas liked the long- and short-haired ones.  With some PROPER guidance this time around, we settled on a cute, little short-haired one, maybe not the "prettiest" in hamster-land, but according to the our PetSmart customer service rep, "child friendly".

Nibbles (sP1010108o named because we were all bitten within minutes of Thomas’ exchange) has become a reluctantly-welcomed member of our family.  Aussie and Callie have a special "interest" in him and we’ve had to keep a close eye on those two…often we walk in our playroom and they’re (ahem) paying him a visit.  Good thing they don’t have opposable thumbs or they might plan a dinner date with Mr. Nibbles.

So that’s the end of THAT story, but "this" story certainly can’t end with a happy ending, can it?  W h y, that would be entirely too easy.

The other night, after returning home from having been out of town for the week with family affairs, I was beginning to cook dinner.  Rachel came in to the kitchen to do something, and as she opened a drawer she informed me, "Mom, looks like the mice are back."

Click to hear my response  (Really, click this now with your volumn maxed out!)

"WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY???!!!" I exploded.

"Yeah, I noticed mouse droppings the other day but forgot to tell you," she continued.

My heart…my spirit…my soul SANK.  Not again…NOT AGAIN!   We had used the utensils that live in that drawer, HOW COULD SHE HAVE FORGOTTEN TO TELL ME????  Remember last time there had been nine mice caught, killed and/or released.

Before P1010097you question how she knew this and I didn’t, look at our drawer liner, I think a mouse picked it out because it’s extremely difficult to see a mouse "calling card" given the design.  Please note the drawer is empty…because everything is being disinfected, heat sterilized, RADIATED!!!

I was bereaved….apparently I wasn’t seeing clearly.

Sooooo, I was back to disinfecting silverware, dishtowels and EVERYTHING in our kitchen drawers and this makes me slightly twitchy (Grrrrr >:(  )…and yep, setting traps.  Four of them.  None of those "humane" or friendly traps, I’m waaaaaaay past that.  KILL THE MUTHAS, KILL THEM ALL!!  NO MERCY!  I’m Rambo…Terminator…Mad Max rolled into one mom-rat-killin’ machine. 

Within hours of setting the trap, spring laden with the seductive Siren’s call to mice–peanut butter–I checked the drawers.

🙂  Victory.

Sadly, said little mouse wasn’t snapped dead, his head was caught in the cli and he was running all over the drawer (think "chicken with his head cut off" except it was a mouse, head still attached, running around a kitchen drawer, not a barnyard).  In one swift motion, I grabbed the trap, opened the back door, released the clip and flung that sucker half-way to China. 

And THEN and only then did it hit me the irony of the past week or two, that here I had a kid begging to BUY the very beasts that now I was plotting to kill!

So, I laughed. And reset the traps ;).

And it hit me…….Oh!  My!  everlovin’ Word!   It hit me–

I AM the friggin’ rat lady!

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