I just finished sitting on the bathroom floor with the rats, letting them have exploration time outside of their cage. It’s a very quiet time, since they start and bolt at the smallest movement. I hope to teach them that they are safe so that the edge wears off of that response.
While I sit, and try to be still, I have a lot of thoughts.
I think a lot about brain development. In a presentation by the Harvard Center for the Developing Child, I remember them talking about the impacts of toxic stress and neglect on brain development. In order to show the effects, they had scans of rats brains that had had different life experiences. I can’t find the images now, but basically a rat who had a good mother that took care of it had a much more developed brain than a rat with a mother who didn’t interact or care for it.
I keep thinking that my little ratties are from the neglectful mother, since she was a feeder rat, and had probably not been well socialized. I like to think that while I sit against the bathroom door that I’m helping to rebuild their brain pathways and teach them a better way to be.
I also think about how different they are. Blanco white rat has been the boldest and most outgoing about leaving the confines of the cage to explore the bathroom. Since he was seemingly the shyest when I met them a week ago, this surprises me. Blanco has shown way more initiative for leaving the cage than Brave Little Toaster.
Last night Blanco white rat spent some time walking around on me, and tonight wouldn’t come closer. It reminds me of what yoga instructors say, everyday you do your practice the best way you can. It may not be anything like yesterday, or tomorrow, so just focus on what you can do today. I’m trying to keep this in mind when really I just want the pet them and snuggle them all.
Last night little Tbone wouldn’t come out of the cage into the bathroom. He just wasn’t having it. Tonight he came all the way our a couple of times and I could see how small he is, perhaps only half or two-thirds the size of the others. You know I will now make a special point to ply him with cheerios and baby food.
Spot is solidly middle of the road when it comes to exploring. He’s second our the door, but first to find the food I put out. I want to encourage them to come close to me, and I got Spot to eat some baby food while the plate was on my lap.
Oh! The other thing I think about a lot is how much I love their noses and whiskers. then they are checking something out, those whiskers get going and remind me of a propeller plane, gearing up for take off!
I keep telling myself we have made progress, but I think there’s still a long way to go. For your enjoyment, here are a couple photos from yesterday and today.