I am worried about the ratlets. I came home last night and Ben's bite had bled really freely - when I washed it, it didn't look infected, but I'm worried that he is going to keep on grooming the scab off and eventually it will get infected. I also wish I knew who bit him. I suspect Leon or Bastian (who also has a small bite), as Nico has been very placid since that trip to the vet (yes, that
kind of trip to the vet). But then, last night I saw Nico dominance-grooming little Leon... I will have my eye upon them this weekend, and see if I can work it out.
I think the reasons I like rats are that they are social, intelligent (at least, intelligent for little animals with brains the size of a hazelnut) and sporadically affectionate. I had the wee ones out last night, and Bastian clung to the back of my neck, dug deep in under the hair, bruxing away (bruxing is an emotion noise made by ratties - it usually means happy, but can also mean stressed or about to bite. It's a bit like smiling for us, I suppose). I know that it was because he was rather traumatised by his new environment, but it was very sweet to be a source of comfort rather than the cause of the trauma. Ben contintues, when out for a walk round the living room, to come back to me now and then and ask to be picked up by sitting up on his hind legs and planting his front feet on my shin - NIco continues to pretend to be terrified right up until the point you have something that he wants to eat. Little Leon actually is terrified, but we'll get there...
Oh, and having just glanced over at the cage - another reason to adore ratlets with a total, besotted devotion is their habit of sleeping in piles. The highest ranking rat will burrow his way to the bottom, and the rest will pile on top, in a tangle of feet and tails and teeny little whiskery noses... It really is just a picture of contentment.
Gosh, I just blew my week's allowance of sentimentality good and proper, didn't I? Oh, well.... to compensate:
Musee des Beaux Arts W.H. Auden About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well, they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.