When our kids were little, they had rats. Rats make excellent pets. Their rats were white with red eyes, pink tails - the kind you see in laboratories or being fed to Pythons.
Their rats were never caged. They lived on top of a built in cupboard whose top was accessible to us from halfway up the stairs. They never tried to escape. And I don't think they could. On three sides of their shelf, was wall and wood and the other side was a six foot drop. The kids took them out for "walks" regularly. They were fun, not creepy.
The rats play and life area was stocked with really clever rat equipment. In those days rat furniture and tunnels and puzzles were all home made. Cardboard boxes, cardboard tubes, panty hose hammocks, puzzles and wash line climbing ropes kept them busy and healthy. And they were droll to watch as we passed by on the stairs or the hall below.
Now, my grandson has rats - designer rats - very smart - no red eyes with grey and white coats and neat black tails. And the modern rat, now lives in a rat condominium with all the mod cons! My grandson's rats have exercise wheels and hammocks and cages and special rat food to keep them in peak condition. All their consumer goods can be steam cleaned and sterilised.
No matter how I feel that our kids had more fun with their rats, because it was all so spontaneous and Heath Robinson, I must admit that the goods the new consumer rats enjoy, are really clever.
There are loads of things that are better now because of consumerism. Nowadays no one has to climb Everest in jerseys knitted by their wives or grandmothers, runners do not have to run a marathon in plimsolls or tennis shoes. And clothing is so much easier too. If it has to be ironed, I don't buy it.
So, when my daughter strung a pantyhose hammock in the rat's cage like she used to long ago in her childhood, I wasn't at all surprised when they made it clear they were the new consumer type rats of the modern age by preferring the designer hammocks instead.