Thursday, January 3, 2013

Cleaning Tails

Rats are not afraid of vacuums. Cats are. When cleaning day rolls around and I pull out the vacuum, the cat goes into hiding, and the rats press their little noses through the bars of their cage. The rats love cleaning day. I always start with their cage- they love this, because I put them in my bed while I clean, and they get to run around and make tunnels in the sheets. I usually hide some treats up there for them to find. I always have to do their cage before I vacuum, because the bed is one of the places that Cleo hides from the vacuum, and two rats and a cat sharing the same bed just isn’t a good idea.

When I’m done cleaning the rat cage, I usually leave Cathy and Lyra out. They are out of their cage for at least an hour a day, usually two- but on cleaning day they are out for four or five. They usually just end up curled up together in the bed, just as if they were in their cage, but I like the thought of them out and about. I think they like it too.

After the cage comes the bathroom, kitchen counters, sweep, mop, and then out comes the vacuum! I keep the vacuum in the coat closet. I love saying coat closet. I’ve never had one before, and I’m quite proud to have one now. It makes me feel sophisticated. Oh, and speaking of vacuums and closets- let’s look back three years to my first apartment viewing. I was with my soon-to-be roommate and we were touring the first apartment on our list. The woman giving the tour stopped at a very short, skinny closet and said “And this is obviously the vacuum closet.” Now, before she said anything, I was thinking what an absurd size for a closet- but I definitely wasn’t thinking, oh, this is obviously a vacuum closet. I’m sure she began saying that after the millionth inquiry as to the purpose of the absurd little thing.

Anyways, Cleo does not like the coat closet. Notice, that I am saying coat closet, because this is a full sized closet. It does contain a vacuum, but it’s size and shape does not limit one to storing a single vacuum within. Now, Cleo knows the sound of that vacuum coming out, and off she goes. (By this time the rats are back in their three story cage in case she makes a break for the bed). The bed and the back of my closet are Cleo’s two vacuum refuges. I always start in the living room, so she chooses these places because they are in my bedroom, and as far away from the vacuum as possible. But, after the living room, I bring the vacuum to the bedroom. At this point Cleo usually makes a break for the living room. I turn off the vacuum to make her more comfortable, but even if it is off, she will avoid it like a snarling dog and get out of there as fast as she can.

And, in the meantime, the rats are standing up, hands and noses through the bars, just watching the show. Maybe that’s why they like the vacuum- because it scares Cleo. Now that I think of it, I bet they’re standing their laughing, just watching her squirm. Rats laugh, did you know that? We humans can’t hear it (it’s at a frequency of 50 kHz), but sometimes the way they look at me, I just know they’re giggling. They talk to us too (50 kHz is their social frequency) the same way they talk to other rats- but alas, we just can’t hear them. That just amazes me.  Laughter seems like such a human trait, but we’re not the only species that partake in a chuckle now and then. There are, as I mentioned, rats, but also dogs, chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos, and orangutans. Isn’t that amazing? It just blows my mind. And if you need any help believing that rats do in fact laugh, just take a look at this picture.

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