Bringing any pet into a new home is a big responsibility, and this woman decided to take it a step further by adopting two rats. However, things soon took a wilder turn than she'd ever expected…
The Big Decision
After much consideration, Kimberly had made up her mind. She was going to take the big step and adopt a pet. She knew looking after an animal was a commitment, but she felt she was ready.
As for what type of animal she should adopt, she wasn't so sure. She could go for a cat or dog like most people, but that seemed too mainstream to her. She wanted something more unique, and that's when it hit her: why not two adorable pet rats? Little did she know how extraordinary her decision would turn out to be...
Meet the Boys
In February 2021, it was finally time for Kimberly to bring the rats into their new home in Chicago, Illinois. While they played on the kitchen floor for a few minutes, she worked through some name ideas in her head, finally settling on Edgar and Fergus.
Having been born in December 2020, the rats were just a few months old when they joined the family and met their new owner. As she introduced her friends and neighbors to the new residents in town, everyone had the same question for her - why?
She Had Her Reasons
Kimberly was not naive and understood that what she had done was far from the norm. She knew people would inevitably be confused by her unconventional decision to adopt two rats, so she was well-prepared and eager to share her reasoning with whoever requested to hear it.
When she was later confronted with this question by the GeoBeats Animals YouTube channel, she repeated the statement she had said so many times. "I really liked having small pets. [And] just where I am in life right now, it doesn't make sense to have a dog." Understandably, people had many follow-up questions...
The Rat Stigma
Sadly for rats, they seem to have the worst PR in all of the animal kingdoms. Since as far back as the 1300s, they've always had highly negative connotations - associated with various stigmas and believed to have been the cause of numerous diseases in history.
They've always been considered to be dirty, unlovable creatures, in stark contrast to the glowing reputation of cats and dogs. The Black Death, for example, which killed almost 25 million Europeans, was blamed almost entirely on the rat population. That's a formidable reputation to shake off.
But all hope was not lost. As hard as it would be to revamp their image, the rats were determined to rebrand. Thankfully, the human scientists and researchers were on board, working hard to dispel the mythical connotations surrounding their breed's identity.
Over the last few years, research articles have greatly helped to alter these perspectives and narratives, arguing that rats aren't the disease carriers they were believed to be. A 2018 article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science journal concluded that humans, not rodents, were the main spreaders of the Black Death.
For Good and Bad
Although their reputation has improved over the years, it has not yet resulted in an influx of rat adoptions. While official sources are insisting they are not the devils we always deemed them to be, people have been hesitant to shift their opinions according to this updated information.
As far as humans are concerned, rats don't make for good pets. Cats and dogs are sure things, tried and tested furry best friends. However, although rats don't offer the same level of comfort, there are some surprising yet considerable benefits to owning a rat. So, what do they have to offer?
Easy to Care For
A prospective pet owner is always warned about the level of care and attention they require. Domesticated animals are incredibly high maintenance and require round-the-clock care. Rats gain points in this department because they require very little of their owners.
Of course, living under your roof, they rely on you for food and sustenance, but other than that, they tend to do their own thing. Unlike dogs and cats, you don't need to ensure they have time outdoors or physical activity. All they need is for you to keep them alive. So, are rats secretly the perfect pets?
When Kimberly told her friends and family about her plan to adopt a rat, she was repeatedly met with the same response. No one could understand why she would want to bring such a dirty, disease-ridden creature into her home. But this didn't put her off; she was aware this was a mistaken label given to rats.
Contrary to common belief, rats are one of the cleanest animals out there. They love to keep their hygiene and cleanliness in check, constantly checking the state of their fur and licking it clean. Believe it or not, you can even train a rat only to do its business in a designated bathroom bowl. Too good to be true?
The Urge to Chew
If you're waiting for the catch that comes with keeping rats as pets: unfortunately, there are a few. Although they're low-maintenance and tidy, they still have issues like any other pet. These rodents have a habit of nibbling on whatever they can find, so this is essential to keep in mind.
If you're a neat freak and like to keep your furniture in perfect condition, rats may not be the ideal pets for you. They love to run through the sofas, gnawing on all the loose pieces of fabric they can get their teeth on. They also enjoy nibbling on wires, which can cause issues for you and them!
High Medical Bills
Another issue to consider before bringing a pet home is their tendency to get sick. While taking care of a rat may require less time, it's likely to result in higher long-term expenses. Keeping a rat alive is not cheap, and those medical bills can add up quickly.
For some reason, these rodents are highly susceptible to severe illnesses such as uterine and respiratory infections. They also have a high tendency to grow cancerous tumors. Treating these various conditions is expensive, and Kimberly needed to consider this before taking Edgar and Fergus home.
Back to Our Stars
After weighing up all these pros and cons, Kimberly decided she was ready to call Edgar and Fergus her own. She packed them up in a shoebox and took them excitedly to their new home in Chicago. Although she was confident she knew exactly what to expect, she couldn't have been more wrong…
Just a few days after bringing them in, she became startlingly aware of their peculiar behavior. So many questions raced through her head - why were they acting like this? Were they not happy? To her surprise, she learned this wasn't the case at all. In fact, if she'd done more research, she would have known to expect this…
Fun and Friendly
Edgar and Fergus displayed the typical positive behaviors that pet rats are actually known for. Just like excited puppies, rats are very friendly creatures, always wanting to interact with humans. Kimberly wasn't aware of this, so she'd been concerned their jittery behavior was something to worry about.
Almost immediately, they'd become quite comfortable in her home, running around happily with each other and playing around. To top it all off, they were incredibly cute, always attempting to cuddle up on the sofa and hang out with their new human owner.
Kimberly soon grew incredibly close to her new furry pals and didn't want to miss out on a moment of fun. In order to capture the memories for years to come, she decided to document their every shenanigan. Believing the footage was too cute to keep to herself, she set them up on Instagram.
On the account @silly_city_rats, Kimberly shares photos and videos of her pets for whoever wants to see. To her surprise, she had picked up on a real gap in the market and gained thousands of followers in a matter of weeks. Their follower count currently stands at over 78K!
Edgar, the Boss
So, what are Edgar and Fergus really like? Considering the high-profile social media stars, they quickly become, the public wanted to get to know them better, interested in their likes and dislikes and unique personality traits. Talking to GeoBeats Animals, Kimberly shared some insight.
"Edgar definitely knows his name. [He's] a ball of energy, and now he's more cuddly with age," she explained on the channel. "But he's still always up to no good. He likes to establish that he's the alpha of the group. He walks like he owns the place!"
Love for Each Other
On the other hand, Fergus is a softer creature, placing a level of importance on his relationship with his owner. "Fergus, ever since day one, is just full of love," the rat owner told the GeoBeats Animals YouTube channel audience. "He's always making really intense eye contact."
"He will stare you down until you pick him up," she continued. "And he almost looks like he's smiling, too. He wants to cuddle all the time, whereas Edgar wants to cuddle only when he's in the mood. [They] seem to be absolute best friends, absolutely love each other."
Bandit Joins the Gang
By the summer of 2021, Edgar and Fergus were well and truly settled. Kimberly had received more joy from these rats than she ever imagined she could, and she felt she had even more love to give. If she was this happy with two rats, why not add another one to the mix?
Days later, Kimberly's little family welcomed Bandit into their home. One year older than his new brothers, he had come with a little more baggage - a sad backstory to his adoption. His birth brother had recently died, and Bandit had been struggling to cope. As a result of his decreased health, his owners sold him on to Kimberly.
A Turn for the Worse
Just as Kimberly had hoped, Bandit had seamlessly integrated into the family, bonding with Edgar and Fergus and growing close to his new owner. The original rats seemed excited by the new arrival and the opportunity for a new furry mate. Tragically, this blissful happiness was short-lived…
As 2021 drew to a close, Bandit's health took a turn for the worse. While he had arrived in a weak medical state, he had been plowing through the pain for a few months. Now, they discovered he had a tumor in his chest as well as heart failure. The situation was looking bleak, and the doctors weren't hopeful.
Goodbyes and Hellos
Bandit was a fighter, and despite his negative diagnosis, he continued to put on a brave face and make the most of his days. However, by March 2022, he was incredibly sick and weak, and Kimberly knew in her heart it was finally time to have him put down.
After taking a day or two to process the loss, she took to the Instagram page to update the caring followers on Bandit's fate. The outpouring of loving comments gave her the strength to move on, and she decided it was time to adopt another rat - this time, a girl.
It took a little time for Kimberly to mourn the loss of Bandit and find her next furry friend, so it wasn't until July 2022 that Pepper was brought home to meet Edgar and Fergus. Just like Bandit, Pepper had previously lost a sibling before being adopted.
Before Kimberly even had a chance to worry about Pepper fitting in, the three rats were running around together and living their best lives. She had hit the jackpot with Fergus and Edgar as they happily welcomed anyone who entered. Fans have been loving the trio content on the Instagram page.
"They Make Me Smile"
Finishing off her story on the GeoBeats Animals channel, Kimberly had one final thing she wanted to say. She wants the world to know how wrong they are about rats and wishes to dispel the incorrect stigmas that follow them around. The Chicago resident has observed firsthand the happiness they can bring.
"People think rats are gross or are scary, but they're just the sweetest little creatures. They make me smile every day," she exclaimed. This story got us thinking - what other small animals could unexpectedly make for good pets? When Veteran Jeff Longo saw this tiny creature on the street, he decided to find out...
Most of us will walk past a miniature struggling animal on the sidewalk and carry on with our day, never giving what we have seen a second thought. At most, we would drop it off at a veterinarian and hope for the best. However, Jeff Longo is not like the rest and went for neither of these approaches.
After spotting a small furry ball needing help, he quickly looked to see what he could do. While he wasn't too sure what animal species the creature belonged to, he was determined to nurse it back to health. As far as he was concerned, it didn't matter what it was - or what it would become.
Assessing the Situation
Walking along the streets of Tampa, Florida resident Jeff noticed the wretch lying on the hot sidewalk and immediately understood it was not in a good situation. Later describing it as "half dead," he knew it needed assistance if it would stand any chance of survival.
Most importantly, Jeff comprehended the urgency of the case and the fact that time was not on their hands. First and foremost, he needed to get the little creature out of the intense sunlight and into a cool place. Making decisions quickly, he wrapped it up in his sleeve and brought it home.
Once the little guy was safely indoors, Jeff did what he could to save her. After giving her water and helping her cool down, he was happy to see her return to life, relaxing her muscles and breathing normally. Now the hard work was over; it was time for the next essential steps.
Firstly, his new furry friend needed a name, so he decided to name her Biscuits. As he examined her in his hand, he couldn't believe how small she was. Biscuits was just over an inch long, and Jeff began to wonder how much she would continue to grow.
Taking to Google
Jeff knew that if he had any chance of looking after Biscuits correctly and giving her the things she needed, he would need to learn more about her species and what type of care they typically require. The main issue was that he didn't know what species Biscuits was part of!
He knew Google was where most of life's answers lay, but he had no clue what to type into the search bar! However, he was determined, so he got to work, looking up her features and characteristics and pouring through the results. Surely, someone out there had come across an animal like Biscuits?
As all promising searches do, Jeff's hunt began on the pages of Reddit. However, while the website is excellent for many things, it failed at helping Jeff identify his mysterious creature. He even started his own thread, posting a picture of Biscuits and asking the users if they knew what she was.
To his dismay, the responses were less than helpful. Not only were the users unable to provide the answers he needed, they even gave him unsolicited advice, telling him to ditch the creature as she would be extremely difficult to care for. But Jeff wasn't so easily swayed, and he continued on…
Finally, at long last, he had a match! After the long, thorough search, he had the answers he had so desperately needed and was well-informed about the animal he had brought into his home. So what type of creature was Biscuits? Well, she was a Southern Flying Squirrel!
What a rodent like this was doing on the sidewalk of Tampa, Florida, is unknown. They are commonly found amongst the trees of forests and woods - not hanging out on the street! Reading about their typical diet, it was clear Jeff would need to head to the shops to stock up on nuts, seeds, fruits, and eggs!
Jeff continued to pour through the information available to him online, hoping to learn everything there was to know about animals such as Biscuits. Soon, it became clear to him that there may be an issue and that Biscuits may have a decreased chance of survival.
Young flying squirrels usually stay by their mother's sides for the first two months of their lives, where they receive the training and care they need to go off into the real world. With Biscuits having been separated from her family at such an early stage, she would not have yet gained the survival skills she needed.
In Her Mother's Shoes
It was down to Jeff to be the mother that Biscuits tragically never had. Most importantly, he tried to provide her with that level of closeness she had missed out on in the first few months of her life. So, for two months, Jeff and Biscuits were inseparable.
Everywhere that Jeff went, he took Biscuits along with him. Whether it was to the office or the cafe, she was there by his side or in his arms. Jeff even began to bottle-feed her a concoction he made by mixing dog formula with heavy cream. Not before long, there were undeniable results.
In Good Health
Biscuits increased in size and strength with each day that passed. Jeff was so relieved and grateful to see how far she had come from the little sick welch she had once been. Now, in front of his eyes was a fully-grown healthy squirrel, and he felt emotional while thinking about the journey they had been on together.
Biscuits owed so much to Jeff, who not only saved her life but also welcomed her into his home and made her a part of his family. In case it wasn't clear, it was not just Jeff and Biscuits in the house; other residents were living there and were also big fans of the new arrival.
Part of the Family
That's right - Biscuits did not just have a new mother figure in her life; she also now had some siblings, although they were of the four-legged species. Jeff loved dogs and was the proud owner of three - hence the ready availability of dog formula in his home!
In her earlier tiny days, Jeff had been nervous that his big, tough canines might accidentally squish her," so he kept a close eye out. But now, they're all as happy as can be. "She runs around me like I'm a big tree," Jeff laughed. "Then jumps on things and then jumps back… gets excited… starts chirping… rinse and repeat!"