Miss Blatz, the albino rat, has been a major player in the Migstories from day one. However, she’s also a real rat, and, sadly, passed away this Sunday at the age of almost three years (very old for a rat!) I got Miss Blatz long before I worked at Mister Migs, or had even heard of it. I’ve been keeping rats since middle school, and contrary to their negative image in pop culture, they are in fact fabulous pets - friendly, clean, and very intelligent! My first pair, Fidget and Boo (short for Bubonic) made me a rat addict for life. So when I got a text from my sister that she had come across a rat in a bird cage being given away for free, I naturally replied that of course I wanted her - bring her home right now!
She was indeed in a bird cage, skinny and frightened and jumping around, but not unfriendly at all. My sister said her name was Miss Blatz (after a punk band, apparently) and that her story was that her original owner had moved out and left her behind, so his roommates had been looking for someone else to take her in.
A bird cage is no fit home for a rat, and quite possibly why she seemed to have so much nervous energy (aside from the fact she was in a strange place with strange people, of course) so my wonderful dad, who loves my little friends as much as I do, immediately got to work attaching the bird cage to a much larger rat cage. This way, she still had her familiar home, but also a lot more room!
Next, she needed a friend. Rats are very social creatures, and can even die of loneliness, so they should always be kept in pairs or groups. Sometimes this isn’t possible due to dominance, territory, or personality issues, but that’s more common with males than females. Still, I was apprehensive about putting Sam, the little rat I had bought at the pet store for this purpose, in with Miss Blatz. Would she accept her? Would she bully her due to her small size? What if, worst of all, she even killed her? It was unlikely, but still possible.
I needn’t have worried. Miss Blatz took to Sam immediately and adopted the younger rat as her surrogate baby. And a baby she stayed; for whatever reason, Sam never got past the size of a juvenile rat, so Miss Blatz continued to view her as such. They never had a single conflict.
Miss Blatz wasn’t just friendly with Sam either. I sometimes let my male rats visit with her on “play dates” (heavily supervised by moi, of course!) and she was friends with all of them - Scurvy, Justin, Jenner, Ratsputin, and Sid. However, she had two big rules: No hanky-panky, and no getting near Sam. Miss Blatz was completely disinterested in mating, and any time one of the boys attempted courtship, she simply walked away. Some female animals will stop going into estrus when they have a baby to take care of already, so perhaps having Sam around had this effect on her, or perhaps she was simply a lady. And if ANY of the males got near Sam, my calm, peaceful, and polite Miss Blatz morphed into a miniature mama bear and attacked them until they went away!
Miss Blatz loved people too. She was my friendliest, tamest rat, all calmness and cuddles. I could trust her with anyone, even my young nephew and baby niece. It’s not that my boy rats were biters, but they didn’t have the sheer tolerance for strangers and children that she did. She could handle anything and anyone. Her favorite people, though, were my dad and I. She loved my dad, and he loved her. She would brux (rat purring) for him, even sometimes boggle (ultimate expression of rat happiness!), and she loved to drink tea whenever he made it. He had a special recipe that she and I both loved, and we would share a mug together many an evening.
Though she had come to me as a skinny little thing, she quickly filled out and grew so plump that for a few tense weeks I thought one of the guys had somehow gotten her pregnant on a play date despite my assiduous vigilance. This just made her even more cuddly though, and cuddly she was. She was my comfort rat, the one that I held whenever I was feeling down or upset. I think she knew that this was her role, and perhaps she even was the one who started it by being so empathetic and caring. Some rats treat you like their rat buddy, others like the boss rat, but Miss Blatz acted as if I were her baby as much as she did with Sam. She would groom my hand as if it were a baby rat, and snuggle with me even more than usual when I was sad, as if she knew I needed it.
Miss Blatz is also the one who got me my job at Mister Migs. I loved their seriously cool dog gear, and I wanted a Migrubbie for Miss Blatz. However, since they had never made anything for a rat before, it would have to be a very specialized order. In return, I was asked to write a promotional story for the company featuring Sadie Lynn (Ms. Karen Lynn’s Scottish terrier) and Miss Blatz wearing Migrubbies together. It became the very first installment of Migstories, and Ms. Karen liked it so much, she gave me a job writing more stories about these two and their friends!
Miss Blatz passed away peacefully, and her death was about as good as it gets for rats. I was holding her, she was comfortable, and she got white chocolate macadamia nut cookies for her last meal; she was so happy about that, she even bruxed and boggled! As sad as I am, I’m very grateful that she lived as long as she did, and that I was able to have her in my life.
And, as Ms. Karen pointed out, she’ll live forever in Migstories.
An appreciation by Mary Grace Mauney