Oh, rats!

For patron Dr. Theresa Lee, these words don’t express dismay, but rather, glee. The New Mexico veterinarian enthusiastically adopted three rats from our Quebec Street Shelter. “I love rats,” said Lee. “Lots of people are wigged out by their hairless possum tails, but they’re why I went to vet school. They are super smart, with big personalities. Their one downside is their short lifespan—they only live about two years.”

In addition to the rats—two cuddly sisters and a handsome male from another household who was rescued from becoming “snake food” and whom Lee said she plans to neuter so they can all live together without creating offspring—Lee adopted a Siberian dwarf hamster before heading to a shelter in Colorado Springs to pick up three mice. She and her husband will raise the “SMAMs”–the League’s term for small mammals—at their home in Los Alamos, where their current menagerie includes three guinea pigs, two cats and eight budgies.

“All were shelter animals or other surrenders,” she said. “We really believe in ‘adopt, don’t shop,’ so we travel to find the species we love. It’s hard to find SMAMs in New Mexico shelters. Colorado is more progressive.”

Although Lee flew to Denver for the adoptions, she drove back home with her charges because, she said, “The airlines don’t allow passengers to take rats on a plane. I’m not sure why.” A graduate of Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, Lee operates a veterinary clinic in Albuquerque as well as a mobile clinic, called Wagon Tails, which provides house calls for cats, dogs and, of course, SMAMs.

Currently, we have 9 SMAMs in our shelters available for adoption, including rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters. To see these pets, click here.