The Lost Boys and Girl

So there I was, watching a DVD I’ve been trying to rent for two and a half months, when a little grey blur goes by me.

“Hello, Templeton.” He paused momentarily, then merrily went running down the length of the love seat as I continued to lounge, taking in the movie. Another blur, grey with white “Hi there, Teetu” and a mottled grey blur, “Hello Inky”. They both just kept running along and into the “condo” on the hutch at the other end of the love seat. The three little boys scurried under the towel in the small cage we have for food and water reserves when our ratties are out with us in the living room. Mrs. Rattitude had brought me some company to watch the movie with.

Then, a sniff in my left ear, and I turn to see a pretty black face looking me in the eye. “Hi sweetie. How are you Serena?” She gives me a look then seeing the blanket on the far arm of the love seat, dives for cover and settles in, and I go back to watching the DVD and keeping what I believed to be a watchful eye on three little boys and one young girl.

This is not an uncommon event. We often have one or two, or several of our little friends out with us in the living room. This is part of our play time we have for our rats, but this was not a typical play time.

During a slow period in the DVD I made a quick check on the little furry fiends. I thought I had seen Serena slip by and under one of the pillows. She wasn’t under the blanket any longer so I started to look for her. I found her. She had started to wedge herself in the crevice behind where I was sitting. I reached down to coax her out and unfortunately made more of an opening. Before I knew it, Serena had disappeared into the love seat … not under a cushion, nor beneath the seat, but actually into the hollows inside the love seat. We have never had one of our boys do this before and since Serena and her sister Samantha (Sammy, for short) are our first girls we are still learning a thing or three.

So, there I am, beside myself trying to figure out where she went and how to get her out. I start moving furniture. Then I think better of that and check on the little boys. Aha, there’s one … um, there’s one! That’s when I realize I lost two boys, too. It’s not that I really lost them, it’s just that I couldn’t find them and figured they must all three be INSIDE(!) the love seat. I didn’t even see Inky and Teetu slip by me and into the same crevice that Serena slipped through, but that didn’t change the fact they did.

I carefully tipped over the love seat and with flashlight in hand to discover Serena behind the muslin that covers the bottom of the love seat. First tool of choice, letter opener / staple remover to minimize the potential damage of retrieving lost babies. Fifteen minutes later I’ve removed too many staples to count and have enough of an opening to get my arm through to the inside and be able to safely pull out Serena. Still no sighting of the little boys that have gone missing, but I was confident they were near Serena somewhere.

The problem was now: Where did Serena go? I couldn’t find her anywhere that I had expected to.

Now I’ve enlisted Mrs. Rattitude’s help. This is now become a large scale production. Furniture is going everywhere, tools are being brought out, cats are being whisked away to the side. We have some very protective cats in our home, too.

We cut the material from the underside of the love seat to get a clearer look … still no little ones. We tipped the love seat back upright and start listening for little scratching or bruxxing noises. We heard something …

The deconstruction of the love seat began. We cut the straps holding the side pillows in place. We sliced through the fabric underneath. We pulled the foam out. We scored the cardboard behind that. Then we cut through or pulled back the cardboard as was possible to get a hand behind all of these layers. We found Inky first. A proper chastising from Mrs. and Mr., a scritch and a kiss, and Inky was taken back home. Templeton, who had been watching all of this commotion from the safety of the condo’s open door, was taken home as well. Then we found Teetu, in the other arm of the love seat, and with the appropriate similar talking to that Inky received he was taken back home too.

Serena was still missing. We turn the love seat on end, then the other end, then back again. We tipped it over, righted it, tipped back … still no Serena. We reached in as far as we could calling her name repeatedly. Nothing. We were reluctantly beginning to think she had found her way out of the love seat without us seeing her and made her way to a “safe” place. Where that was we have no idea, but it was what we were beginning to hope for.

We set the love seat back to it’s place, put it’s cushions back on, put all the other furniture that was moved back to where it belonged. I sat down and started to ponder exactly how to find Serena. Then I heard something …

Mrs. Rattitude couldn’t hear anything, so she sat where I was sitting and then she heard something. A little scratching noise. We had found our lost little girl. How she got into the little corner of the love seat, behind the wood structures, under several layers of fabric is any ones guess, but I imagine there was a small hole for her to hide in.

The furniture was moved again. The love seat was turn on end. We started to carefully cut away the fabric from inside and eventually got to a point where a little black eye was staring back at us. All the commotion of getting Inky and Teetu out had scared her to the point she was wedged into what seemed the furthest point away from everything, especially our hands trying to get her out.

We cut away more fabric, we got a clear path to reach into the space Serena had found. We couldn’t get around her to pull her out safely. We tried coaxing her out with one of her favorite treats, but that didn’t work. We tried the little known use of chopsticks as a herding device. (I poked a hole in the corner of the love seat, pushed the chopsticks through, and tried to give Serena a nudge out.) Serena just found an even more difficult spot to get into.

That left few options except to cut right into the love seat side and just keep cutting until we could reach Serena. We got her out, finally. We calmed her down and made sure she was no worse for wear. She was fine. We put her back in her home.

The moral of this story: make sure ALL your play areas are rat-friendly.