rat posed on a towel and wearing a jester hat
Is your adorable rat a prankster? Brandi Saxton of It’s A Rat’s World

The other day I was passing by the rat room when I heard whispering coming from the cage. I tiptoed a bit closer to see if I could catch a little of what my rats were talking about.

The younger boys were bragging to the senior rats about the little prank they had played on me the week before.

Secret Rat Confessions

a couple of escaped rats peering out from a basket
The young rats bragged about escaping from the play area while the cage was cleaned. Brandi Saxton of It’s A Rat’s World

Brinley: Last time mom was cleaning the cage we escaped from the play area!

Camden: How?

Moffett: The play area was up against the cabinet this time, so we were able to climb out and hide in the hut container.

Kelton: When Mom started calling our names, we all froze so she wouldn’t see us. But then dummy Moffett here blew our cover and we were spotted.

Moffett (through snorts and giggles): Yeah … but then I pretended I was deaf and just sat there staring at her from the bumblebee hut! Her hands were too full to grab us, so we got to keep exploring!

Rat laughter then filled the room.

Reviewing The Facts

Realizing that my boys had conspired against me, this made me wonder what other sneaky things they were up to. I took a moment to reflect on not only these rats, but all the rats I’ve loved over the decades. Was it possible that many of the silly, bizarre, and outright naughty things they did were in fact pranks they played on me? And if they were, does this mean that everyone else’s rats are pranksters, too?

Let’s take a moment to examine this.

Tricked Into Hop-Ons

rat pulling on shirt
Does pulling my shirt mean the rats want attention, or they want free rides? Brandi Saxton of It’s A Rat’s World

When the seniors Camden, Regent, and Gatwick were young, they constantly grabbed my shirt with their teeth or tiny hands anytime I was standing near the play area. I often thought it was because they were trying to get my attention or wanted to be held. Or maybe they were just playing tug-of-war like my dog, Juno, does with her rope.

On several occasions, though, the play area was very close to both me and the cage while I was cleaning it. The boys used the opportunity to pull at my shirt as a group when my back was turned. When they worked as a team, they pulled hard enough that I legitimately worried the shirt might rip. I couldn’t really stop them, because my hands were busy. Instead, I tried to lean back toward them a bit more to lessen the tension on the material. This allowed the boys to get close enough to scramble directly onto my shirt, up my back, and onto my shoulders before I could stop them. Sometimes they even got onto my head!

Was that their plan all along? Did they know that pulling on my shirt would get me to move closer so they could catch a free ride or do “hop-ons”? Those hop-ons caused me to squirm and screech from their sharp little nails reaching me through my clothes. I’m sure they thought it was hilarious!

The Curious Trait Of Sock-Biting

rat grabbing onto toe of foot with a sock on
A toe-biter at work. Brandi Saxton of It’s A Rat’s World

Then there’s those times where I’m just hanging out with the rats on my couch, watching TV, minding my own business — when out of the darkness slinks a rat on a mission. The silence and stealth of these sneaksters goes unnoticed until the very moment I feel the sharp nip of teeth sinking into my socked toes! Not my naked toes mind you, those never seem to be in danger. It’s only the socked ones that fall prey to my supposedly sweet rats.

I’m sure you all know exactly what I’m talking about, too, because what owner among us hasn’t loudly yelped at least once from a socker-biter? Why, oh why are they so drawn to our feet coverings? Lots of people have suggested that they may be lured by the smell of our feet, but I don’t buy it. I personally think bare feet would be smellier. Obviously, their sniffers can pick up odor through material, so smell can’t explain their proclivity for covered toes. Plus, I’ve had freshly washed feet in a clean, just-pulled-from-the-drawer pair of socks get nipped, too.

It’s like the socks are a bat-signal telling them what needs to happen. Could this be a prank of mass scale, orchestrated by all pet rats, on their owners?

Nosy Rats

What about those goofballs who like sniffing ears or noses? Ever had a rat shove their nose straight up your nostril or into your ear? I have — many, many times. Are they doing it out of pure curiosity or were they dared by one of their cagemates?

Hairdressers Or Hair Messers?

rat sitting on woman's shoulder reaching for her ear or hair
A nosy rat? A hairdresser? You be the judge. Brandi Saxton of It’s A Rat’s World

This reminds me of several of my rats, who while sitting on my shoulder, started chewing on and/or riffling through my hair. Was this their way of gifting me a haircut and style? Or perhaps it was commentary on my looks, and they were giving me an unsolicited makeover!

Me, being the ever-loving owner that I am, never wants to hurt their feelings, so I have yet to criticize the end results. But upon further reflection, these moments have always left my hair a muss, and now I can’t help but wonder if that was their ultimate goal. Were my hair and I actually victims of a prank? Hmmmm.

Surprise Dental Checkups

rat peering into woman's mouth
Would you endure a visit from a rodentist? Brandi Saxton of It’s A Rat’s World

And let’s discuss the rodentist rat for a moment, shall we? These are the rats (not all of them do this), that pry open your mouth and shove their little heads in so they can clean your teeth. Most people would absolutely recoil at the thought of a rat anywhere near their mouth, much less in it. But some rat owners find this funny and endearing, albeit a bit painful. But why would a rat ever stick their head into the mouth of a much, much bigger creature? Wouldn’t instinct keep our rats from doing this? So, what exactly are they up to?

I have never been able to figure out this peculiar trait exactly, but then I’ve only had two rats consistent enough to be considered a rodentist. I suppose it could be a symptom of their fastidious cleaning behaviors, but they aren’t normally as meticulous about our bodies as they are their own. I’ve heard speculation that they are trying to get food from out of our teeth, which is frankly pretty gross no matter how cute I find them. I’m pretty skeptical of that reason. I’ve had some VERY food-driven rats that have never, ever attempted to clean my teeth before. And again, this goes against their natural instincts.

We may never learn the real motivations of a rodentist, but I can guarantee it’s not out of concern for our oral hygiene. Maybe their plan was to make this quirk just bizarre enough that we’d be forced to forever ponder it. Which could possibly make this unanswered question a prank that will live on for eternity!

Planning Payback

Due to the intelligence and individuality that our pet rats possess, I believe that they have banned together as a species and unanimously decided which idiosyncrasies they will use to keep us confused and mystified — for our entertainment and for theirs — while also each coming up with their own individual hijinks.

I’m glad my boys have found clever ways to amuse themselves, but I think it’s only fair that I come up with a little prank of my own. Next time I call out, “Treats, treats, treats”, and they all frantically come running to the cage door in expectation of their favorite snacks, they are going to be surprised with some of the very sour grapes that are currently being ignored in my fridge. That’s right boys — two can play this game!

What silly pranks do you suspect your rats are playing on you?

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