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Taxidermist's Pet Dog and Rat Become BFFs, Unlikely Instagram Stars

HUMBOLDT PARK — Taxidermist Mickey Alice Kwapis isn't used to getting attention for her animals that are still alive.

But the Humboldt Park resident's fancy rat, Riff Ratt, and Dutch shepherd, Osiris, have become Instagram stars over the past 48 hours for their unlikely — and adorable — animal friendship.

"They play, they snuggle ... They're super photogenic, and they're just so sweet," Kwapis told DNAinfo Chicago Friday.

She documents their friendship at @osirisandriff.

Mickey Alice Kwapis doles out yogurt treats to dog Osiris and rat Riff Ratt Friday. [DNAinfo/Kyla Gardner]

Kwapis brought three-year-old Osiris with her to Chicago in January, when she relocated from Ohio.

She saved Riff Raff on Valentine's Day from ending up as snake food, buying him from a North Side reptile specialty shop when he was just weeks old.

In addition to traveling the world teaching taxidermy, Kwapis fosters and rehabilitates domestic pets and wildlife (something she's licensed and trained to do), and Osiris has helped by acting as a natural heating pad for infant animals like puppies, kittens, mice, rats, raccoons and squirrels.

"We’ve trained him to be really, really gentle. He responds to the word 'gentle,'" Kwapis said. "He's the sweetest dog, and he's been great with other animals."

Kyla Gardner says the two animals are truly best friends:

Mickey Alice Kwapis stocks up on photos to post to Instagram. [DNAinfo/Kyla Gardner]

With his eyes still closed, Riff Ratt was bottle-fed milk by Kwapis for two weeks, and Osiris would sit by their side, licking any extra milk off the tiny rat.

By the time Riff Raff was old enough to play, "he was used to getting groomed by the dog, and they just fell in love with each other," Kwapis said.

The two even team up to cause some ordinary pet destruction together — like chewing all the fuzz off a tennis ball.

Osiris the dog and Riff Ratt have been friends ever since Osiris acted as a heating pad for the tiny rat. [DNAinfo/Kyla Gardner]

The taxidermist gave the unlikely animal friendship its own Instagram account for purely practical reasons.

"My Instagram followers are all obsessed with dead animals, so I would lose followers every time I posted a photo of [Osiris and Riff Ratt], even though they're really cute," she said. "So I decided finally to stop spamming my own followers and make them their own account."

The account was written up in Mashable Wednesday, and by Friday morning, @osirisandriff was clocking in hundreds of new followers by the hour and up to nearly 12,000 fans.

"This is crazy. I can't believe this is happening," Kwapis said. "They're going to have more followers than me."

What's next for the unlikely animal friends and their taxidermist owner? Before the account began attracting attention, Kwapis had already been mulling over adopting a cat, too.

"Then we could really break the internet," she said.

Riff Ratt, Osiris and Mickey Alice Kwapis [DNAinfo/Kyla Gardner]

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