| Chapter 1
My first recollection of life was being snuggled up to my mother. She was a very stressed agouti with a family to feed. I remember it being nice and warm and safe with her, and she cared for my brothers and sisters well. I did not know how many we were.
Every day a big hand had been feeding us these big pellet things. They did not taste too bad. It never stopped to touch us, just put the food and water in and occasionally terrified us by upturning all our home and putting cleaner smelling litter in. This always made us sneeze.
Then one day, after 3 weeks of life together, my mother sadly told us "My darlings I am going to produce more babies any day now. I cannot feed you any longer". Shortly after, the big hand grabbed all of us young ones and put us in a big glass cage. We didn't even have the chance to say goodbye to mother and we were all so scared.
After a week or two (I have no recollection of time, for we just played, fought and ate) we were put into a small dark box and taken into a noisy, moving room. The smells were scary and strange, and I knew we would never see mother again. When the noise stopped we were bumped along and taken into this strange smelling place, where we were dumped unceremoniously into another glass cage. We huddled together, scared and wondered nervously at our fate.
Being the big brave buck I was, I promised to protect my brothers and sisters. Then without warning this strange smelling big hand reached in and grabbed me and one of my sisters by our tails. My sister screamed and I turned around and bit the hand as hard as I could. The hand dropped me and my sister and shouted "Why you little &%#$@! I know where you're going!"
Then I was roughly seized, thrown into a small smelly container and left on my own. Later one of my brothers was deposited next to me.
" What is going to happen to us?" he asked nervously "I'm scared!".
" Don't worry" said I, trying to sound reassuring "I will look after you".
We were taken in another noisy, moving room and when it stopped, more strange sounds and smells assaulted our senses. The big hand that carried us said to someone.
"I got two this time. Be careful... they bite!" The other big hand said " Just throw them in with Claude, then we wont have to feed them". Who was Claude? What were they going to do? I was terrified, but I had to protect my brother. I took a deep breath and readied myself for whatever would happen next.
The box was tipped up and we tumbled into a warm and very strange smelling glass tank. It had rocks and sand in it. My brother and I cowered behind a rock in the corner, wondering where we were. Then we saw it. Oh! It was so long and scary! It slithered towards us with its tongue flicking, seeking us. It was green and brown and scaly and, although we'd never seen one before, we knew it meant danger. It stopped, kept its distance and just the flicking tongue moved. We were petrified. We thought of our mother and now understood her distress... this was to be our fate, to be devoured by this... this... monster!
We cowered together there for hours, tired, hungry, thirsty and scared. Eventually, the monster again moved towards us. In a moment of desperation and panic I lunged forward and sank my teeth deeply into it's back. I wasn't going to give up without a fight! The next thing I knew, a leather glove grabbed me and my brother out of there and we were tossed back into the travel box.
Relieved to be away from the monster, we huddled together for comfort. Although we couldn't help but wonder nervously at what would happen next. Again we were lifted up and taken in the noisy, moving room. When it finally stopped we were taken into a place that had lots of unfamiliar smells, and one we knew well... food! We were so very hungry. We heard the voice of the big hand, it sounded angry. Then we were tipped out of our box and found ourselves unexpectedly cradled in soft hands.
The soft hands said something quiet and soothing to us. It sounded kind and safe. We were placed into a clean cage in a quiet
room. We tentatively sniffed around our new location, in which we found fresh water and food. We ate and drank, then crawled into a dark warm box and fell exhaustedly asleep.
The lady with the soft hands came every day. She'd take my brother out to play with, but I wouldn't let her take me. I did not trust anyone with big hands... when they tried to take me out I bit them and so she left me alone. A rat has to protect himself.
One day my brother said "Monty, we have a home! These people want us for a pet. I am so excited!"
I was happy we had a new home, but the lady with the soft hands said "No. Not you, Monty. You bite!"
So my brother was taken from me and I was all alone. Angry, scared and alone. The lady seemed to understand how I felt, and said "Monty, it is not good for you to be alone but you can't go to a family if you bite. So I am sending you to a breeder friend and at least you will be with other rats again."
Again I was taken in a noisy, moving room and when it stopped my heart leapt with joy! I could smell other rats! Lots of rats! Home! I was put into a glass tank with another young male rat... it was so wonderful to have company again. Relieved that I'd finally found a safe home, I was distraught when a few days later another big hand arrived, and said "I have come for Monty"
"No!" I thought. "I don't want to leave! I will hide! I will bite!" But, before I could react, she just scooped me carefully out of the cage and placed me on her shoulder. That wasn't too bad, she had long hair and I could hide underneath it. Then I was taken away in another noisy, moving room. My fate was unknown again...
When it finally stopped there were more strange smells. I could smell other rats but I could also smell other unknown creatures. I had smelt faint smells like this before, but what were they? I was shown a wire cage and told this was to be my new home. I was
allowed to explore this big black place with boxes and tunnels... it had warm humming sounds and I felt safe, as long as they did not touch me. Then when I was put in my cage I was fed all this different tasting food. I loved it! It was the best I have tasted and I ate until I was so full I had to sleep. These big hands (there were two of them) talked to me and about me. It was nice, but I did not trust them, after all, they were big hands.
The other smells I soon learnt were cats and dogs but I felt in no danger from them. One day when I was in my cage, one of the big hands came towards me. I ran forward and bit it as hard as I could and then ran for cover. The big hand shouted at me and I was scared. Now what would happen to me? I was only protecting myself...
Nothing! Nothing happened! Instead, I was taken out and allowed to run around on the big soft place called a bed. It was fun and I enjoyed that. I also got to sleep in a nest box near it and I could come out when I pleased.
I had never known freedom like this before.
Well things were getting better. But still when I saw a big hand coming toward me or touching my things I reacted instinctively. One day I bit he smaller big hand and she shouted at me. "Don't bite me, Monty!".
I did not mean to bite her! I thought I had better make a fast retreat into the safety of my cage, but she grabbed me before I could. "Oh no! What would she do to me?". I was terrified.
I knew she was angry with me and I waited nervously for her reaction. Surprisingly, instead of hurting me she gave me a cuddle the way I liked and said quietly "Don't bite me, Monty. I won't hurt you".
It was that moment that I realized I was home. I was loved. I was cared for. And I could trust. Now I love them too.
I often think of my mother, brothers and sisters, and hope they all went to live with someone who thinks they are special, just like I have.
This true story was written by Andrea March and kindly edited by Robyn Arthur
(Alias : Monty Monster, Montezuma and Montague)
This story is dedicate to all my furry friends out there.