first inventions: rat transport systems
At one point i came up with the idea of creating a Rat Tramway. This consisted of making a large loop of shoemaker's twine threaded thru a pulley on a tree in the far corner of our backyard and crossing diagonally up to one of the windows in my second-floor room where it wood lie on a hook. Attached to this was a balsa wood box, fashioned like a tram, onto the lower side of the string and then looped over the upper side so the two lines stayed in close proximity to each other. Then i'd bring an erector set motor with a notched fly wheel to the window sill and, after putting rata into the tram, lift the twine off the hook and onto the flywheel. Rat-in-tram wood travel the long (maybe 100 feet?, maybe more?) way down/across to the tree. Once there, i'd pull the twine off the wheel, rotate the motor 180°, drop the twine back onto the flywheel, and roll rat-in-tram back up to me.
Another "means of travel" was The Rat Raft. This was created after the grass in our backyard became a pool. Replete with sail, there are photogs somewhere of the Rat Mariner sailing/drifting on a chlorinated sea. All things considered, rata was very gracious in putting up with certain activities i thought were grand, but which i know he was not particularly interested in "living out". i learned early on that rats do NOT like to be in bodies of water. The water bottle was great for quenching thirst (and boooy did he drink a non-stop long tall "glass" after munching down a feast of seeds and nuts!), but not anything like a bowl, tub, pool, etc. In spite of this, i was always fascinated to see how any given rat -- who i know had never been so immersed in their life before then -- when put into the bathtub, flapped, rolled, and immediately began rat-paddling off towards an edge. Ah instinctual intelligence! How wondrous its presence!
There were days in 2nd and 3rd grade when i wood bring rata, cage and all, to skool for show-and-tell. Such days were among the most sublime since regardless what else was happening, i was keenly aware of the presence of my special friend in the back of the classroom. At times, when it was quiet and we were supposed to be studying or reading, rata might be drinking thru his water bottle, running on the wheel, or knawing on the bars if no nuts were lying around.
A rat's front pairs of teeth (top-and-bottom) are just like the cuticles of our finger/toe -nails: they keep on growing. It is for this reason that they, like all rodents, are confirmed knawers -- they instinctually know to constantly file down their front teeth. And what better way than knawing on any sort of hard surface? Thus i came to possess many empty walnut shells after they had been chewed thru to get at the treasure within. Sometimes raton wood start knawing along the seam of the two halves of the shell and split it in fairly quick order. Other times he wood simply chew a hole thru the side and pull out the goods piece by piece with his dextrous fingers.
Once i was over playing at my best friend Ok's house and had brought B with me (i think this was B the First). We were outside and B was with us playing in the dirt. In time i realized B had waddled off. We looked and looked but cood not find him. i was despondent when finally i had to go home without B. It felt as if he was already "dead" and that i wood never see him again. Almost a week later Ok's mom Carol was taking some trash out to the garbage cans near the front of the garage and looking down, she saw B next to one of the cans. She brought him back inside with her and i was beside myself with glee to learn that my small furry lost friend had been found. He was in very good shape, including still being fairly pudgy which was some sort of a tribute to his resourcefulness and foraging capabilities (as well as confirmation of the qualities of "The Rat, First Sign of the Zodiac"). i was amazed he had not been killed by a dog, cat, or raccoon, or had not caught pneumonia from being outside for a week of nights.
Starting with B the Second, dave's line came directly from the pet store. A and B were both albinos and i became biased in their favor although i did explore the nature of "hooded" rats -- white with black fur from neck-to-nose and a black "stripe" along the backbone sometimes all the way to the tail -- in the persons of Roscoe, Stripe, and Manny-Magpie.