June 2011

Rats on the Runway

Rats are pretty popular pets. They’re very intelligent creatures; did you know that rats are used to sniff out landmines? They are also very clean, low-maintenance pets who enjoy being pet. I have a cousin who keeps rats and she always has one on her shoulders, just hanging out with her. It’s pretty sweet. My best friend had one for many years as well, and her husband swears that it’s one of the best pets to have, as his family had them throughout his entire childhood.

But did you also know that rats are apparently fashionistas? And if they aren’t, their owners sure can be.

Rat owners apparently like to dress up their rats in designer fashions, adorning them with little tutus, wedding gowns, and even little rat tuxedos.

There are even pet clothing designers who make outfits specific for rats, selling to the most avid pet dresser-uppers. They may claim that the rats themselves enjoy dressing up, but who can really tell?

As a child, one of my best friends—one of those “toxic” friends, if you know what I mean—used to dress up her Pomeranians in baby clothes and parade them around in baby strollers, up and down our street, pretending they were her babies. Sometimes they growled, but usually they just pathetically lay there, letting her doll them up and torture them with clothing meant for cabbage patch kids.

I’m not a fan of dressing up pets—ever, really. I get it if you have one of those tiny, blinking, yappy dogs who gets cold when it’s under 90 degrees and he needs a sweater to prevent him from shivering—though I definitely don’t get buying such dogs in the first place, between their usefulness, cuddliness, and cost—but other dogs have plenty of fur to keep them warm, so what’s the point in clothing them?

I’ve known a few people who claim that their pets love to dress up; I even knew a woman who dressed up along with her dog as a theme for Halloween every year. But from my own firsthand experience and from the simple fact that it looks uncomfortable, I really doubt that it’s the universal experience for animals in general—as well as rats.

In addition to so many different outfits, rat accessory manufacturers also sell various rat furniture pieces, hammocks, and other pet owner favorites. Now, these, I do get; having had mice, cats, ferrets, and plenty of other mammals who enjoy chasing toys, swinging in hammocks, and climbing towers, I know how much these accessories can come in handy. In fact, my own home is pretty much littered with cat, dog, and mouse toys, climbing towers, and treats. We love to dote on our pets like any other pet owners, but we don’t dress them up. It’s not just a lack of interest (but there is that!); we just don’t think they would enjoy it much, if at all.

I’d love to hear from other pocket pet owners about their views on dressing up rodents, however. Is it really worth doing, and do you think they really like it?