A few weeks ago, my daughters’ 4th and 5th grade school announced they were holding their annual science fair. My eleven-year-old daughter decided she wanted to use one of our pets for her project.
Hope decided our newest pet rat, Algernon, would be the best candidate for the job. She wanted to prove that rats are smart and can be trained to do tricks. Algernon had already learned to stay on Hope’s shoulder while she walked around and then climb down her arm into his cage.
I helped Hope build a simple maze for Algernon to navigate. We decided putting a treat at the end of maze would be a good incentive. Algernon wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do in the maze when we first put him in it. But he eventually weaved back and forth and came to the end and found the treat. Since Algernon is such a well-fed rat, he wasn’t too excited about the treat but ate it anyway. We wondered how our pet rat would perform on the day of the science fair.
We brought the homemade maze and Algernon to school and got set up. By the time Hope took the rat out of his carrier, we already had other students gathering around to see Algernon. They all wanted to pet him and see if he would do the maze. Again, Algernon wasn’t terribly motivated to perform but he did manage to complete a few run-throughs. I think he would need some more practice and training to get really good at the maze.
I was so pleased at people’s reactions to our pet rat. I thought there would be some people who would not be thrilled that we had brought a rat to school. I didn’t hear anyone say anything negative. Most people commented that he was cute and several shared stories about the pet rats they had.
Algernon didn’t win a gold star for his maze agility but he certainly did delight people with his pleasant disposition and pretty coat. I think he was the star of the fair!
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