If it's big, they'll take it!
There are some things you learn quite quickly. Let's say you have a small piece of chocolate cake, some mashed potatoes, some assorted diced vegetables, and a fairly large roll. You would think that the cake or the vegetables, being as tasty to the rat palate that they are, would be the first to go. Of course, you'd be wrong and by the time you'd realize this, that roll would be half way across the room.
Sometimes a few others will try to claim this large prize or steal it from the original thief. Often they will break the large prize into multiple smaller prizes and everyone will continue to fight over the largest remaining piece. Sometimes the roll will make it to its secure hiding place (see "We know where the term "Pack-Rat" comes from.") and will be left there to rot or harden. The important thing here is that that rat got the biggest chunk of all. That rat is proud.
Having fun with the rat ego while offering them a little enjoyment can be easily done as well. What we humans here call the rat ego is that big cloud that hovers over a rat's head when he partakes in the pride walk. The pride walk occurs when the rat holds his head up high, or tries to, but the large item is in fact much heavier than the rat himself. He will flop, stumble, roll, and often he will lift his tail very high to maintain (usually unsuccessfully) his balance. This is where the fun comes in.
There are two (that I can immediately think of) very large items that rats will dutifully embarrass themselves over. Those items are corn (on the cob, of course) and watermelon. The reason why this is so very funny, is because you can hear the little rodent wheels turning in their brain. Should they eat the most luscious created-for-rats yummy, or should they take into account its size and potential ego-stroker! You can imagine what happens.
In the case of the corn, if there is enough, each rat will try to walk off with the whole cob. She will grab it in the center and attempt to trot off with it. Trotting with 75% of your weight in front of you, as you can imagine, is not very effective and once that rat stumbles, another rat is there to walk off with the prize. This usually doesn't last too long and the oversized item usually ends up getting tugged back and fourth and around a two foot radius. Ultimately all of the rats will settle down around a portion of the cob and simply nibble away. This is also very cute.
In the case of watermelon, grab a whole one when they're on sale. The $5 you spend on this watermelon will provide you with entertainment equivalent to, if not better than, the best available comedy at the movie theater. Depending on the number of rats and depending on what kind of comic effect you are trying to achieve, either slice the watermelon in halves or in fourths. If you chose halves, they'll spend very little time trying to tug it around and spend most of their time trying to cling onto the edge. More often than not they'll be rocked off the boat. The next day you will see a rat or two passed out in the shell of what used to be a watermelon. They do an exquisite job of cleaning it out by the way.
If you choose fourths, you can indulge in a little bit of ego-quenching. They will grab one of the two ends and successfully tug it a few inches. Of course other rats will be tugging it in opposite directions. Soon after you will see all of them surrounding the super yummy melon, and devouring it with big smiles and wet whiskers.
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Disclaimer: There are many non-sarcastic accounts and tips on the web regarding rat care. This is not
one of them. These are merely accounts of our experiences with rats, our perceptions of these experiences, where we've failed
and where we've succeeded. These accounts are here for two purposes: