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...we spent the evening in making a trap for the rats (-- older rats had killed a pet rabbit - curator) but I fancy they watched us while we were doing it, and we, of course, caught none of them. We did catch some young ones, however, and the ﬁve tiny things looked so innocent as they sat in their trap that I could not make up my mind to have them killed, and took the cage up to my father’s study. “Suppose we keep them,” I suggested, “ and train them—make them friendly with the young rabbits and pigs and birds.”
“Suppose we do,” he said; and leaving his books, he descended to the aviary with me, and together we rigged a big cage against one of the brick walls. There the rat babies could look at my pets, and get acquainted with them.
Young rats are really pretty creatures. These little ones had white breasts, pink paws, shell-like, whitish ears, black whiskers, and bright, black eyes. They slept all day in a brown box at the top of their big cage. This box looked something like a pulpit, and, if roused, they would lean over their pulpit, holding on by their pink paws, their beady eyes seeming to say, “What do you want? We don’t like to play till night comes.”
One day one of them became ill, and lay under the straw at the bottom of the cage for some time. It was almost human to see the way in which he would stretch one little pink paw from under the straw, and feebly move it to and fro.
When these young rats were partly grown we caught two tiny ones and put in with them. The newcomers were very anxious to get up in the brown box, and tried climbing up hand over hand, or rather paw over paw toward it. The big ones amused themselves by leaning out of the box and pushing them down. I gave the little ones a tangle of wool to sleep in on the bottom of the cage, and two or three days later the older ones relented, and allowed them to climb up to sleep in the box.
-- from Saunders, M. (1908). My pets; real happenings in my aviary. Toronto: The Ryerson Press. 71-2.