Hello I am Guy one of the Coombe Mill children and I have a pet rat. My rat is called Francesca and she is special to me. I had a hamster called Bobby before Francesca but Bobby died of old age as hamsters don’t live very long they are also nocturnal and hard to play with during the day. Rats on the other hand are awake during daytime and in my experience more clever than hamsters as you can teach them tricks and they are very responsive. For example if I whistle and tap Francesca as cage she will come to that part of the cage knowing I have a food treat for her.
I first got into rats because my Brother Theo has one called Captain Sparkles. Just like any pet rats need looking after, I clean Francesca’s cage out every week adding new shredded paper as her bedding. I used the paper shredder from mum’s office to make her bedding. Every night I’d check she has clean water and feed her a small handful of rat food. I also like to give her a fresh food treat from the fridge; her favourites are lettuce and carrots. I never forget Francesca as I also have to put the Coombe Mill rabbits to bed and feed them too.
Rats are very sociable and like to come out to play, on a sunny day Theo and I like to have our pet rats out together in the garden. We sometimes give them a bath in a bowl of warm water, Captain quite likes this but Francesca doesn’t, they like to nibble on the grass, feel the fresh air around them and nuzzle each other.
One sunny Sunday Theo and I were playing with our rats on the grass when mum said it was warm enough to have our Sunday lunch outside, rather than put our rats away we thought they could play while we ate our roast dinner.
It was funny hearing Dad shout as one of the rats ran up his trouser leg or nibbled at a toe! I thought we knew where the rats were all the time, but after lunch Captain Sparkles was still under the table (he is very old now) but Francesca was nowhere to be seen. Mum excused me from clearing up while I looked for Francesca. As the afternoon went on she’s still hadn’t been found, all my brothers and sister were helping me by now. I was getting so worried and afraid for Francesca. We even shut Penguin our cat in the greenhouse in case she found her and was not so kind to her! I asked Mum to help me make some lost signs on the computer to put up around Coombe Mill as we had no idea how far Francesca might be by now.
I went off to run the train at 6.00 and still Francesca hadn’t been found. I stood up to introduce myself at the train and ask all of our guests to look out for her for me
Now I was getting really worried as it would soon be dark. Mum insisted we let Pengiun out and that worried me even more. I really thought I wouldn’t see my rat again. Then Theo heard a rustling behind the greenhouse and began to search in mum’s Rosemary bush, having a rat himself he thought it sounded just like the noise a rat might make moving through there, the next minute he came into the house holding Francesca high. I have never been so relieved and even gave Theo £5.00 of my pocket money in thanks.
Never again will I eat dinner in the garden without making sure Francesca is secure first. Having a pet is a responsibility and one to be taken seriously.
Guy wanted to create and share this post himself; I only helped with the spelling and grammar. I am not mad on rats myself but am delighted for the children who are keen to have them as pets as I welcome the responsibility it gives them.
“Tales from the farmers wife” shares the funny and interesting happenings on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Nick and our 6 children. A behind the scenes look on balancing family, farming, the holiday business and cooking for all.