Rats are known for their intelligence, but did you know that they can be artistically gifted, too? Collectively known as Toogoods Tiny Paws, this group of 12 rodents are particularly prolific. They belong to 21-year-old student vet Steph Toogood, who has been nurturing her pets’ talents by providing them with miniature canvases and paints.
Toogood came up with the idea to encourage her pets to make art after one of her rats—Captain Jack Sparrow—sadly died in 2018. She decided to take some paw prints as an artistic memorial and thought her other rats would enjoy getting messy in pigment, too. She explains, “I thought it would be lovely for my boys to do something similar when they were with me to keep when they’re gone, so I got some mini canvases and paint, and they’ve created memorial pieces for me to keep.”
Featuring colorful splatters and layers of tiny paw prints, each finished canvas looks like a miniature Jackson Pollock painting. But such talent took some training. Toogood explains, “Some of the boys are target trained and will follow a target stick or by hand to make painting easier—we even have a miniature agility course which some of them are good at!”
Feeling proud of what her rats created, Toogood snapped a few photos of their finished canvases and posted them online. She unexpectedly received a lot of interest from people who wanted to buy their own works of rat-made art, so she decided to create an Etsy page to sell their works. However, Toogood stresses that her rats are more than artists—first and foremost, their well-being is most important. “They’re my best friends, and they will not spend their lives covered in paint, no matter how high the demand is for their art right now,” she says. “I aim to promote the keeping of rats as pets and their welfare, as well as sharing what the boys get up to outside of painting.”
The Toogoods Tiny Paws Etsy shop currently has no listings, as everything made so far has sold, but keep an eye on the store. Toogood plans to list some new artworks soon! You can follow Toogood and her “boys” on Instagram for updates. Until then, scroll down to check out her little critters’ creations.