We adopted Portabella from the Arizona Humane Society on December 27, 2010. She was in a large ferret cage with her littermates and was the only little rat to stick her head out inquisitively when I opened the cage door. That’s how I knew I wanted to take her home.
Ideally if you have a rat it should have a rat companion but we decided she would be our only rat as they can be a little expensive in terms of health care. I was home a lot anyway and we planned to let her have the run of our place so she didn’t get too bored. This plan worked out well, but looking back on it I would have liked to have another rat for her to play with.
I also kind of regret not getting any video footage of her being her cute self. If we were petting/massaging her little face she would stretch her arms out for a massage. Sometimes she was over-excited at the prospect of food and would climb all over us. If we were watching a movie and she had her fill of popcorn she would take the excess and tunnel underneath us for storage. Portabella also had a strange rivalry with our toothbrushes. If we teased her with them it was all out war; that was the only time I saw her fierce teeth-gnashing huntress side. It was hilarious to see our otherwise gentle pet stalking a toothbrush. She was a fan of chasing ribbon and could do so as well as any cat, and she had a penchant for catnip filled fishes.
We knew rats have issues with mammary tumors and respiratory infections. We dutifully took her to the vet any time we heard her sneeze; she never suffered an intense respiratory infection. The first time we discovered a lump we took her to the vet right away and had it removed. Her recovery was a little tough, she opened her stitches once overnight, but after that she healed quickly. Her second operation was difficult and she was getting older. Her recovery time was a lot longer and she seemed so fragile. She eventually bounced back but we found a new growth within weeks. After that she developed a fourth growth and we knew our time with her was coming to an end. Friday morning was relatively normal. She had to be hand fed and watered as she wasn’t eating her pellets, but she was very interested in fruit and beans. By Friday evening she was having difficulty breathing and was very lethargic. We took her to the vet so she wouldn’t die alone in her cage over night. It was a difficult decision but I think it was the right one for all of us.
It’s sad not seeing her whenever we come home. She was kind of like a dog in that she would stop what she was doing, come out of her cage, and wait for us near the door. While our time with her was short she brought us so much joy and love. We will miss her very much.