Ikeola: A Pretty Name
for a Pretty Rattus Rattus Girl
By Janet Girard
I had never entertained the idea of owning a rat. Sure they were okay- kinda
cute and all, but the ones I’d seen at the pet store just sat there or were
One warm evening my boyfriend, Gilbert, and I were sitting in the living room
with the screen door ajar. All of a sudden we heard a blood curdling scream.
I thought it was a rabbit. We both ran out and there on the porch was the cat
holding what I thought was a mouse.
“DROP IT” I screamed.
Thankfully he was scared enough to drop it and run off.
“Awww, a baby mouse!”
And there it was, the very cutest little “mouse” I’d ever seen.
It didn’t seem injured, but did seem dazed.
(I found out much later that a cat’s saliva is toxic to small animals)
I named “him” after the baby on South Park- Ike. I found out about a year
later “he” was a She! Hence the name Ike-ola.
My original intentions were to keep Ike until she recovered and then return her
to the field next to my apartment. I fed her wheat bread soaked in canned milk.
The second evening she actually licked my hand! That was it for me…She had
captured my heart. I held her for long periods of time to keep her warm.
After a week I realized that she had imprinted with me and it wouldn’t be safe
for her to return to the wild. There were just too many predators out there and
she did seem content.
I used to spend hours with her running up and down my shoulder while I did my
bead work. We built her a lovely cage out of wood. I started looking on the
internet to find information on “mouse” care and health. I found Claire Jordan’s
site and sent her a picture to see if she knew what kind of “mouse” this was.
I was very surprised to find I had a ship RAT! (rattus rattus).
Claire really helped me get on track with Ikeola's care and told me about the
RatList! From the information on the List I realized Ikeola needed some buddies
to hang out with, and there it begins. I adopted more babies and quickly
realized what wonderful, little characters these animals were. The bad press I’d
heard was way off base!
Ikeola has changed my life in many ways. Because of my love for this little girl,
I became more aware of small animal right issues and started getting involved.
I’ve met some pretty wonderful people both locally and worldwide that I’m proud
to call my friends through our shared love of these special creatures.
I had been dabbling with glass and jewelry and decided to make a glass rat charm of
my baby. Pretty soon other rat owners wanted a charm of their little ones.
I became more and more involved with my glass work. It has gone beyond a hobby
I’m happy to say. So many wonderful things have happened because of our
relationship with Ikeola!
My girl lived a very long time for a rattie. I approximate 3 years and 8 months.
She had been healthy all her life until her final 2 weeks.
It’s like the clock caught up to her all at once. She still clung to life even
though she couldn’t eat solid food and finally couldn’t take in liquids.
I couldn’t let her suffer, so I helped her pass over to the Bridge at 9:00 pm
on Saturday 12/28/2002. She was one of the most special animals I have ever
known. So much personality and so smart. I can’t even start telling all the
little cute things she would do. It would take a book. I know she thought of
me as her Mom. I will always love that little girl and I think she loved me too!
RIP Mom’s Princess.