the weird chick

Feivel Went West

January 6th, 2015

Feivel and Bernard

My poor little buddy Feivel died the other day. He’d been sick for a long time. I took him to the vet a while back; it cost $200 for the visit and his medication. He seemed to get better, but almost immediately after he went off his medication, he got sick again. Rats have very sensitive respiratory systems and are prone to pneumonia. It’s been about four years since my last pet died — the family dog, Bear. We got him when I was ten, and we had him until I was just a couple weeks shy of twenty. He actually died the day before my brother and sister’s sixteenth birthday. That was a sad time. We had brought him home about a year before our parents divorced. Poor guy had parvo when we got him, but he survived for nine and a half years until he developed a tumour in his ear. He hemorrhaged shortly after having surgery to remove it. I miss that dog a lot. I made a necklace out of his dog tag, and have the song from Robert Munsch’s “Love You Forever” tattooed on my ribs, for him and all the animals and people that came before and shall come after.

Being the first pet to die in the past four years, poor Feivel is also the first pet I’ve had to bury myself, since I live on my own now. Actually, as soon as I saw the little guy in the cage, obviously gone (I’ve had many animals in my life; you can tell from just a second’s glance that they’ve passed), I called my dad, because I wasn’t sure what to do. I still always call my parents for help. Independent adult? I’m not so sure. I live in a townhouse with a very limited backyard — it’s actually all patio, save for a tiny little garden plot (that I want to turn into a dog toilet, because having to go for a walk every time he needs to take a tiny pee is frustrating) — so I wasn’t sure if I could bury him. Obviously I could (I own the house, not rent) but I was upset, and I can’t always think when I’m upset. My sister and I buried him in the garden plot, and had a little “Good bye, little buddy” moment. She offered me a shoebox to bury him in, but I decided to just put him into the ground. This may sound callous, but he’s dead; might as well let nature do what it does best. If I could be buried in the future without a coffin, I would.


That night, I was up (I’m a night shift worker; I’m up at weird hours), and I heard a weird sound coming from the rat cage. No, it wasn’t the Ghost of Feivel. When I first got my rats, I only brought home two: Feivel and Bernard. Gonzales came home a month or two later. Feivel and Bernard were buddies; they always preferred each other, leaving Gonzo on his own a lot (so he spent much more time out of the cage with me — Feivel and Bernard did not like to come out). For those who don’t know, rats are very much like palm-sized dogs: They are social creatures, and they are intelligent. They can learn tricks and respond to their names. They even lick you like a dog does. So when I say Feivel and Bernard were buddies, I mean they were actual friends who enjoyed being together.

What was the noise? I actually ignored it at first (there’s always weird noises coming from the rat cage), but when it continued, curiosity took hold, and I went to investigate. On the second level of the cage was Bernard, digging furiously through his food bowl, throwing every last bit of kibble onto the floor. He didn’t eat any of it. Never has he ever done this before. Why did he do it? I don’t know. Maybe he thought there were cornflakes hidden beneath all the kibble (you have no idea how much my rats love cornflakes). My perhaps less-than-rational, maybe anthropomorphising belief is that he was looking for Feivel, or throwing some kid of grieving tantrum. They had been together for pretty much Feivel’s entire life: They came from the same litter and shared a cage. Being relatively intelligent, social creatures, I do believe that they must do some form a grieving. But maybe I watched too much Disney.

So now it’s just Bernard and Gonzales. Hopefully they stay a while and go together, since rats do not like to be alone and I am not currently planning on getting more rats (later, yes, but this year, no). Poor Feivel was only a year and a half old. I will miss the little guy. When he was younger, he used to like crawling into my shirt and riding around with his head poking out of my cleavage. As he got older, and sicker, he just wanted to be left in his cage with his buddy Bernard, with lots and lots of cornflakes whenever he could get them.

Rats are wonderful pets, especially if you do not have ten or more years to dedicate to a dog. I had always wanted one growing up (my grandmother, with whom I lived, thought they were gross, so I couldn’t have one), and I liked them as much as I thought I would. They are adorable, they are clever, and they are affectionate. They are clean, too. Constantly cleaning themselves. In fact, the cage will only smell bad if you are lazy and don’t change the bedding regularly. If you’re looking for a small pet to bring home, I highly recommend rats. I have had guinea pigs, rabbits, turtles, ducks, dogs, a cat, my sister had a hamster, and fish. As far as the little animals go, rats are my favourite. I highly recommend doing your research before getting any, though, as with any pet. Rats can be a little finicky.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *