It’s no news that some animals can be artists, especially critters as intelligent and empathetic as rats. Toogood’s Tiny Paws shows just how talented such pets can be when making their own mini canvas paintings. Their colorful finger paintings (or should that be paw paintings?) are just delightful!

Steph Toogood didn’t always dream about owning an animal art business. In fact, the origins of this project have quite solemn tones. She elaborated on how it all started: “The idea of painting on canvases came to me after I lost one of my boys, Captain Jack Sparrow (Gibbs’ brother) last year.” Poor Jack had undergone surgery but didn’t wake up from the anesthetic. As Steph works at the vet’s, she was around the pet the whole time and managed to take some paw prints after Jack had passed away.

Losing a pet is always heartbreaking but those mementos we have of them will last forever in our hearts. “I thought it would be lovely for my boys to do something similar when they were with me to keep when they’re gone,” the owner of the rats explained on their social media. “So I got some mini canvases and paint, and they’ve created some pieces for me to keep as a sort of pet memorial.” She also loves to take photographs as a hobby, so she snapped pictures of her pets next to their tiny paintings. After posting the cute rat art online, she attracted a lot of people’s attention. Many wanted to own some of the work so she’s even starting taking art commissions!

More info: Facebook | Etsy | Website

Toogood’s Tiny Paws Art was created by Steph on April 20, 2019

According to the animals’ social media page, there are 12 rats in this artsy collective. Steph also wanted to stress that her pets are friends first, and artists later. She stated that she’d never push the rats to make the mini canvas paintings against their will. “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 recently posted. “The rats are never forced to run through paint, and if they show any signs of unwillingness on the day, we stop.”

She shared some details about how the creative process works: “Painting is positively reinforced, so they get rewarded throughout. Some of the boys are target trained and will follow a target stick or my hand to make painting easier. We even have a miniature agility course which some of them are good at!”

Steph went on to elaborate that while the Toogood’s Tiny Paws Facebook page primarily has the rats’ finger paintings on it, it isn’t the only thing she wants to focus on. “I don’t want to use this page just for their art – 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,” she explained.

Steph sells a variety of products featuring her animal art: coasters, keyrings, hair scrunchies, and more. However, currently, their Etsy store has no listings available. It turns out, people bought everything they had available and Steph eventually ran out of canvas for the little critters to paint on! “I am making an order this week and hopefully arranging pre-orders soon,” she posted on Facebook.

Check out our collection of mini canvas paintings from  Gibbs, Noodle, Albie, and other artists at Toogood’s Tiny Paws. The rats look really proud standing next to their finger paintings — so cute!