3 minute read

It is with a wry sadness that I must report the passing of our family pet rats. Nugget died on September 5th, 2023. Oreo survived another 4 months, passing on Tuesday, January 9th 2024. Both rats are survived by their owner, Henry.


Nugget and Oreo were sisters born in Hagerstown, Maryland. Their owners were a fastidious bunch. There was an application form to show we were respectable rat-owners. They needed driver’s license information, rat habitat info with pictures, and even our local exotic veterinarian. After sending photos and swearing we wouldn’t breed our own rats, they agreed to sell us these two.

The trip back to our home was adventurous. Nugget and Oreo started tucked comfortably in the inner coat pocket of a large woman or man (not that it matters) who met us at an abandonded church parking lot. They were eager to meet us after they were transfered in our small carrier case. Henry held the carrier in his lap the entire car ride back as they looked through the acrylic walls wondering where they were going.

The adventures in our house consisted of frequent trips to the bathtub where they could run around, pee, and poop with disregard. Oreo really liked a play castle complete with battlements and a stairway between the levels. Nugget liked to find some treats and sit and eat. On special occasions, we would let the roam on blankets or towels in the living room.

Image of Rats on a Blanket, Nugget on the Left, Oreo on the Right
Image of Rats on a Blanket, Nugget on the Left, Oreo on the Right

Oreo was always the more active one. She would scurry off and look for something new. She was not easy to hold and snuggle with. Below she is interested in Meg’s bandaid, but would soon get distracted and move on. Nugget was the cuddly one. She was the favorite among guests who didn’t have an aversion to rodents.

Image of Rats in Meg's Hands
Image of Rats in Meg's Hands


As the rats got older, Henry got more accustomed to them. He was able to hold both rats at the same time (something he would never try early on). And then the old saying of how pet owners look kinda like their pets started to come true. Henry would eat food by holding it up to his mouth with both hands taking little rat-like mouthfuls. Then he started developing this brown coat of fur. It was eerie.

image of Henry dressed as a rat holding both rats
Henry dressed as a Rat holding both Rats


Eventually, Oreo and Nugget got into their usual routines. They would walk in their wheel, and then wait for food by their cage door. One day, Oreo got tired of the same-ole same-ole. She was a smart rat; unlike her more sedentary, cuddly sister. There was a reason she spent most of her time on the blanket trying to discover every area; even areas off the blanket. She saw how we opened and closed the doors to her cage. So she decided to give it a go.

It was Meg who discovered this escapee walking across the upstairs hallway. Intrepid as Oreo was, she barely made it out of Henry’s room. Meg made sure to “close” the cage door this time. Where was Nugget by the way? Just chilling out in the cage.

One evening a day or two later, Henry was fast asleep in his top bunk bed. If one were to travel from pillow, past Henry’s toes, over the gray metal railing, one would see the top of the rat cage approximately 2 feet away. Oreo must have traveled this same path in reverse that night as Henry was awoken by a soft, friendly rat on his pillow. No longer fast asleep, Henry tiredly called out “Uhhh, I think Oreo got out again.” We now knew the door wasn’t being accidently left open. Oreo was able to throw her body against the door hard enough to unlock the bent friction latch that held the door closed. And how she carried the two-foot gap that is five feet above a wood floor is a mystery to this day. Oh, and where was Nugget you might ask…just chilling out in the cage.

Carabiners, spiral rings, and even rope were employed on the door in the near-term. Finally, I used pliers to bend the friction latch even more. It took the force of a grown adult to bend the latch enough to open the door.

The rats were sweet creatures. Always exploring or just wanting to be held depending on their personalities. They only live for about 2 years, which Oreo did.

picture of nugget picture of oreo
Image of a) Nugget on left; b) Oreo on right.

For a video of the rats, see this VIDEO.