One warm evening, my boyfriend and I were sitting in the living room with the screen door ajar. All of a sudden, we heard a scream! It sounded like a bird was being attacked. We both ran out, and there, on the porch, was the cat holding a mouse. "Drop it!", I screamed. Thankfully, he was scared enough to let go and run off.
And there it was. The cutest little "mouse" I'd ever seen. It didn't seem injured, but did seem dazed (I found out much later that a cat's saliva is toxic to small animals). I named him after the baby on South Park: Ike. I found out about a year later he was a she! Hence the name Ike-ola.
My original intentions were to keep Ike until she recovered and then return her to the field next to my apartment. I fed her wheat bread soaked in canned milk. The second evening she actually licked my hand! That was it for me -- she had captured my heart.
After a week, I realized that it wouldn't be safe for her to return to the wild. There were just too many predators out there and she did seem very content with me.
We used to spend hours together, her running up and down my shoulders while I did bead work. My boyfriend and I built her a lovely cage with a hand-painted backdrop. There were mice playing in a field, and a mouse walking up a hill toward a castle.
I started searching the internet for information on rodent care and health. I found Claire Jordan's site (http://members.madasafish.com/~cj_whitehound/) and sent her a picture to see if she knew what kind of mouse this was. I was very surprised to find I had a ship rat! (Rattus Rattus). Claire really helped me get on track with her care. I realized Ikeola needed some buddies to hang out with, so I adopted more babies and quickly realized what wonderful little characters these animals are. The bad press I'd heard was way off base!
She changed my life in many ways. Because of my love for this little girl, I became more aware of small animal rights issues and started getting involved. I've met some wonderful people, both locally and worldwide, through our shared love of these special creatures. I'm proud to call these people my friends.
I had been dabbling with glass jewelry and decided to make a glass rat charm of my baby. Pretty soon, other rat owners I had met on the web, or at rat-related events, wanted a charm of their little ones (See my Pet Charms and Memorial Beads pages). I became more and more involved with my glasswork. It has gone way beyond a hobby, I'm happy to say. So many wonderful things have happened because of our relationship with Ikeola.
My girl lived a very long time for a rattie. I approximate 3 years, 8 months. She had been healthy all her life until her final 2 weeks. It's like the clock caught up to her all at once. She still clung to life even though she couldn't eat solid food, and finally couldn't take in liquids. I couldn't let her suffer, so I helped her pass over to the Bridge at 9:00 pm on Saturday 12/14/02. She was one of the most special animals I have ever known. So much personality and so smart. I can't begin to tell you all the cute little things she would do. It would take a book. I will always love that little girl, and I think she loved me, too.
R.I.P. Mom's Princess.