Didier the Dumbo Rat

Catherine Graf
From the RMCA web site, March 2009


My big boy, Didier (Didi) is gone. This morning he was peacefully put to rest, after I found out he was much sicker than I thought. Didi was about 2 years, 3 months, getting up there for a rat. When he was a baby, the pet shop asked me to take him, but he seemed to be having respiratory problems, so I said no. He had been shipped there as reptile food, but Kayla didn't want to give up on him. About a month or so later, she told me she'd been treating him with antibiotics and he was well.

And he was well. This time I took him home, and he has never been sick since, not until now. He started chirping and gurgling, so I took him to the vet, who immediately put him on oxygen. Nobody had ever seen a rat as big as Didi, outside of Manhattan's meat packing district. A woman in the waiting room showed me that he was as big as her dog.

When Didi came, his first roommate was Nicholas, who terrorized all the other rats with his violent personality. Didi beat him up the first night and Nicky learned he was no longer king of the hill. But Didi was a nice friendly boy with all of us. After the others went, one by one, he was left alone in the living room. That's when I asked him if he wanted to meet Vicky.

Vicky is drop-dead gorgeous and Didi was wild for her from the first day, even though she often played hard to get. In all the time they lived together, they never once had a fight. When Vicky felt like being by herself, Didi respected it. Other times she let him love her.

Vicky went along today. I was expecting the vet to give Didi an antibiotic, but he said Didi was really suffering, had either cancer, pneumonia or heart failure. We had an intense discussion, but I felt it was best to put him to sleep. I stayed with him right to the end. No animal will ever feel I am abandoning him. I sent Vicky out to the reception desk. She's back with the other girls today and is doing well. We will all miss Didi, but you have to know the right time to let go. We are looking for a new rat to give a home.