When life gives you rats

The true story of what happens when life gives you rats.

Anna Bergsland holds her rats close to her heart because she loves them so dearly.

Photo Courtesy of Anna Bergsland

Anna Bergsland holds her rats close to her heart because she loves them so dearly.

Anna Bergsland, Staff Writer

‘Twas three nights before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring… except for two baby rats. This past winter, I had the best/worst Christmas anyone I’ve ever had. I have spent the past year growing my love for rats, referring to almost everyone good and bad as “rats,” and even going as far as setting my screensavers as cute baby rats. My friends have also watched me grow in my love for rats and listened to me talk endlessly about them.

The best/worst Christmas began when my friend Annika jokingly told me that she would get me a pet rat for Christmas. I, of course, jumped and squealed with joy, because I know that I would be the best human rat mother to ever walk the face of the earth. However, it became a reality. The next day I received a text that I was newly a rat mother, but instead of receiving one bundle of joy… I received two!

The next day, I was going to pick up my new beautiful baby rats who I had named Natalie and Natasha. Along with my baby rats, I had received a traveling cage, running wheel, ball, and rat food. I was all set; I had everything I needed to provide for them. There was just one small problem: my parents have a very strong dislike towards rodents, and were not aware of my new Christmas gift.

I began thinking of a brilliant plan as to how I was going to smoothly bring my baby rats into my house. I thought the best approach would be to go after the weaker and less controlling target, also known as my dad. I started by texting him a link to a simple article that I found online explaining why rats make great pets and examples where rats were getting along with household dogs. He replied extremely confused, explaining that I would never, ever be getting a pet rat. Little did he know, I already owned two.

Next, I tried calling him; he then again emphasized that I would never be getting a pet rat. I tried to explain to him that they were given to me as a  gift and that it would be rude not to accept them. He didn’t want to hear it; the answer was clearly no. When I got home later that night, it was obvious that my dad had addressed the issue with my mom because the first thing she said to me when I walked in the door was “Do you have the rats? If you bring them into the house you will be grounded all of your winter break.” That was the final straw. I wouldn’t be able to keep my new babies. This was turning out to be the worst Christmas ever.

I didn’t know how to break the news to Annika. It truly was the best Christmas gift I had ever received and I didn’t want her to think that I didn’t like them or that my rat obsession was simply a hoax. The next day I went to visit my baby rats, but instead of it being a happy day like it is for most mothers when they first meet their new babies, it was a sad, sad day. I would have to break the news to Annika that I wasn’t allowed to keep them. It would be the first and the last time I ever saw them. The visit was amazing; I fell in love with their small noses and extra long tails. But just as quickly as I fell in love with them, we were torn apart. My parents might not have let me keep my rats, but hopefully my roommates next year will love rats as much as I do.