My rats live to stash.
My rats stash to live (or, at least they think so).
For as long as I have had rats, I have noticed the most engaging stashing
behavior, and it seems to me that it's the same in each and every rat. I call
it the stashing instinct - and they all have it inbred. I've seen it in the
alley rats out behind my old Boston apartment (I used to watch them zing back
and forth between the dumpster and their rat holes), and I see it now in my
two boys, Oreo and Fritz. When it comes to stashing, there's not much
difference between domesticated and wild rats.
The Art of Stashing can take several different forms.
See if your rats fall into any of these categories:
- Stash 'Til You Drop
Yup. No matter how much there is, they're gonna keep at it 'til it's gone.
This could be an entire bowl of popcorn, a whole box of Munchy-O's or Yogurt
Drops... if there's a surplus, all must be stored away just in case. The pace
is frantic, and usually the first few trips are executed with such glee (for
them it's like winning the lottery) that the rat goes leap! leap! leap!! on
his way to the stash. Of course, if there's really a lot to be put away, they
usually get down to business after the first few trips. Sometimes they even
get smart and drag the whole bag of potato chips in one trip. For this reason,
if you can possibly help it, do not leave food unattended when your rats are
- One is Not Enough Stashing
Every rat I've ever had does this one. You hand them a treat, and they take it
and then wait for another before running to the stash. What, one paltry little
treat? It's not worth the trip! You have to give them two or three- however
many that can be crammed between the teeth. Then it's drop-and-pick-up, drop-
and-pick-up... all the way under the bed.
- Paper Stashing
Not only food falls prey to stashing. Large pieces of wrapping paper, 8-1/2 x
11 copier paper, tissue paper, a whole undulating roll of paper towels- the
bigger, the better. There is nothing funnier than the sight of your rat
tripping over a sheet of paper. They do not give up! No matter how perilous a
climb, or how small the stash entry, they will cram that paper in. Not to
mention, after the stashing part comes the ripping part!!
- Theft Stashing
This is the most insidious kind. It happens when you are not around to give
out treats, and most usually it's something you value, or do not want the rats
to get. For example, those big pink drawing erasers, pencils, paychecks, York
Peppermint Patties, the only-photo-in-existence of Auntie May, gum... you get
the idea. And the worst part is, you usually don't know it's gone until you
find it three months later in the rat stash, chewed-up and peed on, or your
rat comes out from under the bed, with fresh minty breath...
Rats will stash; there's no getting around it. Here are a couple of ways
to make stashing a fun activity for both your rats and you:
- Hide and Seek Stashing
Place treats in neat, secret places all around your room - on shelves, around
corners, in shoes- any place your rats can get into or reach, that isn't too
obvious. This game sometimes lasts for days.
- Exercise Stashing
Hefty rat? Try this one: I call it Re-Treating. Dole out about 15 treats, and
count the laps your rat makes, back and forth to the stash. Retrieve the
treats from the stash, and repeat (of course, this depends on where your rat's
stash is- it must be easily reached so you can get the goods back). This type
of stashing works best if there's a lot of climbing and running involved. Make
‘em work for it!!