Zoë's Pet Rats

In the beginning there was one white rat, a female named Ivory. Zoë felt that it was not good that Ivory should be alone, so a black-and-white male named Ben was introduced to her glass tank. They soon produced offspring, who intermated and produced more offspring, and so on. Soon several more 30-gallon tanks were needed to contain the descendants of Ben and Ivory.

All the rats started out living in cages, but Zoë thought it was "a shame that they had to spend each night in jail", so after a while, they were allowed to roam free through most rooms of the apartment.
In the Cage - 1990
Alone on the Table
Table Lineup
Hanging out

To feed over 100 rats, we'd scatter dry rat food or cereal on the floor. A ratrug would assemble, and the munching sound resembled rain on a tin roof.
Kitchen Table
Getting down to cereal
Hey - no pictures!
Kitchen Floor

Zoë often had one of her rats perched on her shoulder.
What're you lookin' at?
Hello, sweetie!

And of course, there were all those babies!

In the death notice for Zoë posted on his web site <Zoë Death Notice>, Richard Hell wrote:

I'll never forget visiting her in her huge old East 10th St. apartment in the early '90s and finding it carpeted (I'm not exaggerating) with rats. It was positively psychedelic. All surfaces were alive with them. A bureau drawer was the maternity ward, quivering with dozens of translucent little rat babies.

"Psychedelic" it was indeed!

For a true story of life with the rats as told by Robert Lund, check out Mikey's Tale, about one resourceful little rat and his way of coping with life on E. 10th St.

In May, 1991, we brought about 90 of the rats down to the Seven Seas farm in Virginia. There they were placed a special cage the proprietor had built especially for them, to await their resale to pet stores. The remaining rats continued to live with us, through several apartment moves, back in a couple of 30-gallon fishtanks. By the end of 1996, the remainder of the population had died off.