By Harriet Whitehead
This adorable footage captures the heartwarming friendship between a rodent-hunting beagle and a rat that appears to defy the laws of nature.
Best buddies Pippin the puggle and Leia the domestic rat love playing hide and seek and snuggling together on the sofa.
Pippin – a beagle crossed with a pug– would ordinarily be used to hunt rodents but when it comes to Leia he’s swapped killing for cuddling.
Owners Hayley Lopez, 22, and Tyler Lopez, 21, said the pair were inseparable and bonded instantly when Hayley brought Leia home three years ago.
Animal lover Hayley, from Washington State, US, said: “They were best buddies.
“I work in a pet shop and Leia was the last one in the litter so I brought her home. It was the best decision I ever made.
“Pippin would not stop staring at the cage. He was so interested. I took Leia out and put her on the couch and Pippin just ran over and started playing.
“Leia really liked to nibbling on Pippin’s toenails and Pippin would jump around and she would go for his feet.
“They would always chase each other around. They were best friends and attached at the hip.
“Pippin would watch the cage and it was like they would be having a conversation.
“They used to sit on the sofa together and when she was tired she would lie on him. Pippin would lightly rest his head on her while she slept.
“They would play hide and seek. She would hide behind the pillow and Pippin would look for her. It was really cute.
“They were just buds. They were the best.
“Pippin would recognise Leia’s name. I used to ask him if he wanted to play with her and he would run to the cage and wait for her to play.
“He would wag his tail and watch for her then she would jump out of her cage and run over to him.
“He was always so gentle when he was running around with her.”
Adorable video footage taken by pet shop worker Hayley, who has 12 pet rats and also breeds them, shows Leia chasing Pippin around the living room trying to steal her toy while other clips show them snuggling up and Leia nibbling Pippin’s tail.
Hayley said: “Pippin’s got a super personality and has never tried to harm any animal.
“It’s quite unusual because he is part beagle and they are used to hunt rats.
“I was nervous about that at first but he’s never tried anything. I think he’s more pug than beagle. He does not have a hunting bone in his body.”
Hayley, who also trains dogs, shared the footage after the death of Leia a couple of months ago which left three-year-old Pippin heartbroken.
“When she passed away he would still watch the cage and would get really sad when she did not come by.
“He went out to her grave in the back yard. He really felt her loss.
“I think he could smell her. He went over to the grave and would not leave. He sat there in the rain for about half an hour. I think he was saying goodbye.
“We’ve had another litter of rats born and there was a baby in that litter called Toriyama who he’s starting to bond with but it’s not as strong.”