Have You Ever Heard of The Tooth Rat?
Teeth have always been a big thing in my family. Not because we have big teeth, but because when your mom works in the dental field, your pearly whites are the most important things in the entire world. Break an arm? Cool. Scrape up your knee? That's fine. No matter the injury, the first question out of Momteo was always "are your teeth ok"? Now that I'm an adult, I am thankful that she kept me so vigilant about my teeth--I've never had to deal with cavities or anything!
With my mom so focused on teeth growing up, the tooth fairy was a big deal in my house. For whatever reason, she named the tooth fairy "Althea" and she would always leave behind money and a letter.
I was having a conversation with someone recently about teeth--yeah, teeth haunt me--and I was blown away to learn that the tooth fairy wasn't a thing for everyone!? What seemed funny to HER about my version of the tooth fairy only brought to light a tradition I had no idea about: El Raton!?
Apparently, in Latin American culture, the tooth fairy, El Raton aka the Tooth Rat comes and takes your teeth from behind your door at night. I had never heard of this and being Hispanic myself, I was so jealous that this wasn't a part of my childhood! The Tooth Rat sounds like a total badass.
Ratón Pérez, also known in some countries as Ratoncito Pérez, or El Ratón de Los Dientes, first appeared as a supporting character in a Spanish storybook in 1877. In 1894, he appeared anew in a starring role when author Luis Coloma was commissioned to write a book for the young Spanish king, Alfonso VIII when he lost his first tooth at age 8. In this book, Ratón Pérez begins his gig as a collector of lost teeth in the city of Madrid. As the story goes, he lived in a box of cookies. He explores the city of Madrid through underground pipes and visits the bedrooms of children who have just lost a tooth. In the story, the mouse meets a young king (based on Alfonso) and begins a charming friendship.
Have you ever heard of El Raton? Every single person I've asked about this has said no and I can't believe it!