I don’t usually write obituaries for my rats, because with the number of rats I have I’d be writing them rather frequently, but I feel I have to for Ryder. He was just that kind of rat.
Ryder was a dick. I always referred to him as “this asshole” because he was, indeed, an asshole. My alpha male even in his dotage, he ruled the boys with an iron fist. He was never a handsome or even a cute rat, in fact he was flat out weird looking. If I weren’t his mom I might even call him ugly. But he was my rat, and that makes the difference. He was mean, aggressive, greedier even than the average rat, always
looking for a reason to be pissed off, and yet somehow he managed to work his way
firmly onto my list of Top Ten Greatest Rats Ever.
I admit that logically he should not have been one of my favorite rats. He’d refuse to allow the boys to eat until he had stashed every bit of kibble in his designated “pantry” (A hidey-house he decided was specifically to be used for food storage. God help the rat who strayed in there on non-food related business.), he tackled and dominance-groomed them until the fur on their shoulders showed bare spots, he bit my dog on several occasions, and even bit my sister once. When I offered the boys treats, Ryder would physically throw the others out of the way and then block their access to the snacks until he had grabbed everything he wanted. Had he been younger when I brought him home he probably would have been neutered. He was an angry, angry rat.
But not with me. Ryder never so much as puffed his fur at me, he was always happy to be scooped up for kisses and loved having his ears and shoulders rubbed. I guess he had an innate sense of who was worth sucking up to. When he was younger he disliked being held for long periods of time, but once old age really kicked in his favorite activity was snuggling in my lap for extended massages. His preferred method of returning affection was to barber my fingers with his teeth.
Old age hit him quickly and hard; he developed HED and went senile to the point that he would forget where he was in his own cage. Still, even as the resident Elder Statesman, he never relinquished his dominance over the group. One thing he had going for him was his size, even once he lost weight in his senility he was still a good pound and a quarter of rage-filled alpha male rat.
I think I posted the story once about how i brought him home, it was June 2013 and I was in the market for a new rat or two. One of the Humane Society websites had both Ryder and Rudy as an adoptable set, and in my excitement at seeing two boys available I rushed out in the middle of a massive thunderstorm to bring them home. (Best idiotic decision I’ve ever made.) Ryder was clearly the older of the two, I estimated that he was about a year at the time, which means that as of today he was about 3 ¼, quite old for a rat but not as old as I wish he would have become.
He seemed just fine last night when he came out to play, slow and senile but reasonably healthy for his age. I found him this evening when I came home from work; he’d clearly been gone for several hours. I can only assume his age finally caught up with him. I’m going to miss this guy. I have one last video of him that I filmed last night, which I’ll post at some point when I’m able to watch it again. Until then, I don’t really know how to end this, so I’ll just add another of my favorite pictures of him and call it done. I love you, Smeeze.