This week’s developments: Pepper is a total camera whore. I barely get any photos of Salt these days. I’m going to put up some before and after photos of their behaviour soon (as soon as I can be bothered with all the image processing faff) simply because the change is so striking. The clicker training’s revolutionised Pepper, he seems to have finally realised he can interact with me as if I were another rat and is suddenly all confidence and affection. It’s lovely. I also heartily recommend Karen Pryor’s “Don’t Shoot the Dog” if you’re at all interested in this style of training.
Pep is also a fast learner – “come here” is more or less established and will even tempt him out from under cushions, although I need to polish it up and get him responding a bit quicker. I swapped out the clicker gadget for a retractable biro quite quickly, because the gadget I posted a photo of proved to click so loudly it made Pepper jump. The biro seems to be working very well, and it’s easy to get hold of another one if I forget or lose it too! Today Pepper and I tried out “stand up on cue” and “follow my finger (without biting it)” – I got the standing up one purely by accident since he tried that out on me while I was aiming for finger-following, but I figured I’d run with it and I think it’ll be fun to base other tricks on later 🙂 Salt is learning much more slowly, bless him; partly I think it may be down to him having poor vision, since he’s red-eyed and really does seem to have trouble in bright light, and partly he’s still not beaten down the myco as well as Pepper and is likely feeling poorly. So I’m mainly not expecting too much from him and dishing out a lot of positive discrimination when it comes to snacks. The only thing I’m actively trying to train him to do is take things from me gently!
Their latest favourite hidey-hole is under the wooden lap desk I bought for my
computer; it runs rather hot and was quietly cooking my knees to the point of causing me skin problems. I guess if I will go creating a nice, dark, narrow space between my warm comfy lap and a lovely heat-radiating laptop they’ll go for it!
On the future babies front, the Get More Rats-itis is getting chronic now. Of Mary’s three mums one has five two-week-old darlings who are just opening their eyes, one has a big litter of ten recently born who are shaping up to be a huge variety of colours, and mum no. 3 is only half way through her pregnancy and already huge! Her last litter was 15 strong apparently, so the whole Zephyr stalker community is on tenterhooks waiting to see what she’ll give us in another week or two 🙂
I’ve also reviewed a rat-related fiction book I read recently. That’s over in my serious author blog, which for some strange reason doesn’t get nearly as many posts as this one *cough*. I thought it was a great read, so go and give it a look if you like 🙂