Adorable Rats Doing Funny Stuff

by Kara on March 20, 2010

Froppy - © Ellen van Deelen

I know that LOTS of people think rats are creepy and scary. I am not one of those people. I have a lot of trouble understanding why they feel that way. I feel the same way about spiders, though, so I can relate. Don’t expect to see pictures of adorable spiders doing funny stuff on my blog any time soon.

My friend Luba sent me a link to these pictures of rats playing musical instruments. I loved them, so I just had to email photographer Ellen van Deelen to ask if I could share a couple with you. Her photos do such a great job of capturing ratty personalities. They are funny, curious and smart, and her photos really bring that out AND they made me laugh. Apparently, van Deelen had the idea for these photos when she saw some tiny instruments in a store window. Rats are insatiably curious about everything, so they cooperated by thoroughly investigating the instruments, providing her with some wonderful models. If you click on any of the pictures, it will take you to larger versions of the images on

The Musician - © Ellen van Deelen

If you’ve checked out my About page, you’ve seen a picture of me with a rat, Salty, on my shoulder. Stephen and I used to have rats and they were fantastic pets. I usually describe them as being like little dogs that don’t bark. Rats are extremely social and each has a unique personality.

Our alpha rat was Kat, who was hilarious. She was a little bully. If I was sitting on the couch, and she wanted to get from one side of me to the other, she wouldn’t simply climb over my lap. Instead, she would try to go behind my back by using her tiny hands to try and push me out of the way. And it usually worked too because I didn’t want to accidentally squish her. When we gave the rats treats, Kat would steal the treats from her sisters and go hide them. It wasn’t that she particularly wanted the treats. She just wanted to show them who was boss. She was usually too busy to eat the treats and when she forgot about them later, her chubby siblings would gobble them up. Kat was a skinny little thing, and she lived the longest of all our rats, which was still far too short.

The Band - © Ellen van Deelen

My favorite Kat story illustrates her personality perfectly. When we were in the room, the rats were allowed to come out of their cage and run around as much as they wanted. During one such play time, Kat’s sister Dill was sitting on the floor right in the middle of the room. Kat was walking from one side of the room to the other and found Dill in her path. Rather than walking around her, Kat chose to climb right over her, taking care to elbow her as much as possible. Once she was on the other side, she looked back at Dill and gave her a karate kick in the side. Stephen and I could barely stop laughing. It was such a Kat thing to do. For her part, Dill just sat there complacently through the whole thing.

The Irrepressible Spazi, riding around in the hood of my sweatshirt - © Stephen Bay

Another one of our personality plus rats was Spazimodo, or Spazi for short. There was never a more aptly named creature. He had a limitless supply of energy, which he used to create all sorts of fun games for himself, sometimes involving other rats or humans. Spazi’s best game was one I like to call Smash Your Face. I would lie on the floor on my side and Spazi would sit quietly by my feet – I swear he was trying to look nonchalant. Suddenly, he would take off running at high speed along the length of my body and launch himself into my face. Before you express any horror, know that Spazi never caused any harm by doing this. I was never once struck by a stray claw. He was quite careful and seemed to just want to involve me in his fun. I am sure he thought it was just as much fun for me as it was for him. And I guess it was, because he always had me laughing.

I highly recommend that you check out Ellen van Deelen‘s other rat pictures – they are truly wonderful. Please do not use these photos without permission from the photographer. She deserves the credit for her work.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Margot March 21, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Fantastic pictures. I used to think rats were awful, but then some friends got some. They were adorable, but I think maybe I still prefer my dogs. The cats might prefer the rats. :-)

Stephen March 21, 2010 at 4:40 pm

Looking at the photos of the rats, I can only guess that it took the photographer hours and hours of working with the rats and props. Having had pet rats before, they are extremely flightly and rarely stay still.

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