Today was my second day at Petsmart (the first was yesterday, but it was spent on training videos and two hours at the cash register — nothing worth noting). All my coworkers have been very nice so far. I think I’ll like them. I worked an opening shift. I followed Josh around for 4 hours as he explained the process of changing out and cleaning food and water dishes, followed by new filters for the massive filtration system, then food for the fish.
And in case anyone is wondering, of course I’ve already picked out pets I want. On the top of my list is a Uromastyx:
HELL YES I WANT A DINOSAUR.
Second on my list is an odd one. It’s a fancy rat — not so odd, I’ve had my eye on getting fancy rats for a while now. But. Well. This is going to sound odd.
In the back of the store, behind the EMPLOYEES ONLY door, there are two small rooms. One is a Quiet Room, and it’s specifically for new arrivals. The animals live there for a few days, just to get over the shock of movement and travel, before they go out onto the sales floor. The other room is a sick room, for animals that are either sick, pregnant, or have been injured. In this second room, there are currently two rats. One, sitting at eye-level, was bitten by a fellow rat. She will be going back on the sales floor soon. The other one sits on the bottom of the shelf, away from humans. This other rat bites. She doesn’t bite other rats. She bites humans.
All of the rodents are kept in plastic bins that you roll out of drawers that lock. They sit tight enough together that tiny crawly mice, gerbils, and hamsters can’t get out. For the most part, you can easily grab the edge of the tub and pull it out and see baby animals staring at you curiously.
But this rat.
She sees your feet approach, and she runs up to the edge of the tub.
If you stick your fingers over the edge of the bin — say, to open the drawer, in order to change out her water and food — she bites.
It’s hard to find a not-cute picture of a fancy rat. source
I completely forgot this fact when I reached for the drawer. They had me wash my hands twice and put anti-bacterial cream on the bite, and three bandaids, since I was going to be working with a lot of water. I pocketed two. The biggest bite mark is on my thumbnail, the side where her bigger teeth bit in. It’s going to take a few weeks for that to go away. The manager joked that I was officially a Petsmart employee now that I had been bitten by an animal.
Later on, I observed Josh open the drawer carefully and feed the rat an orange. She met him teeth-first. Except that now there was an orange in the way. She was being rewarded for biting the thing the first thing she saw.
“She’s not bad, after she tries to bite you. She only tries to bite you once,” Josh said. “I handled her for a little while a couple weeks ago, and she was fine.”
I could fix the biting, I thought. No I couldn’t. I don’t want to. I can’t take on another animal. But I could fix it. I’ve never had a rat. But that rat just needs to be put into a new environment and retrained. But I’m not the one to do it. But I could. If I tried. I would name her Tara and I wouldn’t give her any food or anything after I opened the cage. But I shouldn’t. I don’t want to.
But I do want to.
I got crickets for Sonny and Slinky after I got off work, and then took the crickets straight home to feed dah boyz. Because that is my life now. I feed animals. I got out a 10-gallon tank, dumped the crickets into it, and then went to get Slinky from his tank (Slinky is James’ bearded dragon).
This unnecessary frogface of evil
I pushed back the locks and slid the tank forward, then reached into the tank to get Slinky. His mouth parted.
I frowned, suspicious, then reached further into the tank. His mouth opened further, and now his tongue was out.
I put my fingers further into the tank, and now his tongue was all the way out. I withdrew my fingers — he pushed himself forward, reaching for my fingers. He thought my fingers were superworms. He wanted to eat my fingers. Well, I had already been bitten once by an animal today, there was no sense in getting bitten by another.
I went and got an actual superworm and tossed it into the tank. I placed it so that he would have to come closer to me, and then I could reach behind him and grab him while he ate the superworm.
He jumped as I put my hand inside and dropped the superworm. His eyes followed my hand as I pulled my hand out. He stared at my hands, resting against the glass. I pointed at the superworm, crawling away for dear life. “There! Get that one! There!” He jumped with every thrust of my finger, eyes staring, widely, madly at my fingers.
Frustrated, I went and got a tong — a human tong for human food. I picked up the superworm with the tong and thrust it in Slinky’s face. He was unmoved. I turned the tong to lift it out of the tank — and he saw my fingers, clutching the tongs, and jumped forward to get at them.
Oh for goodness sakes.
I got oven mitts from the pantry and lifted him up with both hands protected. He struggled, flapping all arms and his tail, trying to get a grip. I dropped him without pretense into the waiting 10-gallon tank and let him sort it out with real food.
Sonny, of course, behaved like a gentleman and I didn’t have a problem getting him in or out and he even finished up Slinky’s food once I realized Slinky wasn’t going to finish his crickets. Sonny is perfect. Sonny is wonderful. I love Sonny.
Sonny is entitled to everything he gets