We’ve started a little mischief — of the four-legged variety. A group of rats can be called a mischief, and upon Brioni’s urging we’ve now welcomed these rodents into The Gifted Gypsy!

Calista with three mice finger-puppets, July 2013
Actually, these three little mice finger-puppets (by Folkmanis) have been part of our family for a number of years.

Brioni is our passionate animal-lover. A vegan since she was five years old, Brioni is passionate about all creatures — to the point where she says she would rather lice inhabit her hair than be exterminated!

When Brioni began asking for a pet last year, her heart was originally set on owning a chipmunk. Geographical and quarantine obstacles were explained, and then we worked through the various pet options that would suit our itinerant lifestyle and tiny home. Putting aside my trepidation, I suggested getting a rat. It helped that our beautiful friends in Northern NSW got rats too.

With our trip overseas to Indonesia, I managed to delay getting a rat until we were back in Australia. Even when we were in Bali, Brioni was counting the days to return to Perth — simply because she knew it meant her long-held wish would come true.

Brioni and her pet rat, July 2013
Brioni's rat Shadow tends to sit on her shoulders.

Now that we’re back in Australia, I had to follow up on my promise. We had to find a rat. So I started to research, and it turns out that rats really need a companion. So we had to get two rats!

We discussed the practicalities and decided that Aisha and Lana would share a rat and Brioni and Calista would share the other. That way we could have just two rats among four girls.

Aisha and her pat rat, July 2013
Aisha's rat is called Sita. It has a pale body with a dark hood.

So we went rat-hunting. Our first stop was at the vibrant Erryn’s place. She, too, is passionate about animals and showed us her itty-bitty babies. We spoke for a while about care and needs, and Erryn’s beautiful energy encouraged us in this endeavour.

Next, at the Amberdawn Rattery, Jenny and Matthew showed us their young rats that were ready for new homes. They’re passionate about rats — in fact, everyone who has owned rats has only good things to say about them as pets — and let us take our time in choosing our two rats.

Except that Lana got a hold of a little rat who snuggled into her fuzzy jumper, and the two refused to be parted. How could I say yes to two and no to three?

Lana with her pet rat, July 2013
Lana likes to hold Cloud in her lap.

Yes, so we’ve got three rats travelling with us. Calista hasn’t really shown an interest in getting her own rat, but if she does, I’ll follow up on it. At the moment she’s content to play with her sisters’ pets when she can.

Calista holding a pet rat in front of the cage, July 2013
We've placed the cage at the back of the bus for now while I consider how to modify our cabinetry to fit it in.

We’re handling the rats quite a lot so they get used to our scent and energy. The girls are reading rat pamphlets and watching how-to videos on Youtube to learn how to train their pets, and I’m learning as much as they are!

Three rats, July 2013
Here are our three new family members — all females!

It’s going to be interesting to see if anything changes in our travelling style or habits. There’s already a family in the U.S. who travel with rats (and other animals), so I know life with pets on the road — rats on the road — can work out well!