|Overall Impression: You have written a believable tale about talking animals, hvysmker. All the animals are written true to their perceived types, according to classic literature, including its more modern versions. This makes it a useful wisdom tale with the important point that "Life is lived with satisfaction to a greater or lesser degree, depending upon the viewpoint of the one, who is telling the tale." In this case, we realize that this is the tragic story of people, who have their story told by Oscar Rat, a member of an Italian Rodent Syndicate, who would sell his own mother if he thought he could get away with it.
Suggestions: The Almost Universe is viable, but a little tedious at times. Could new names be created for the places that would hint at the real places? In some ways going to Almost Africa is "almost" like taking the train to Hogwarts School. The students have to get on the almost train through the almost wall. In at least a few ways it ends up being almost a story, which as we all know "almost" is a rather subjective word. When you leave that much up to the reader, then the end result is different for every reader. I love the color, "blue." Therefore, much of the scenery in Almost Africa has some pleasing shade or tint of blue. However, others love the color, "red." Would their Almost Africa look drastically different? Quite possibly.
Punctuation/Spelling/Grammar: There are multiple incidents of improper usage of punctuation and grammar. In some cases, these violations seem to fit the traits of the characters, who make the violations. Therefore, it begs the question, "Are we writing in dialect? Or are we intending to tell the story in the framework of proper English grammar rules? Use these examples, applying them throughout your story.
"You won't find her that way, walking in circles," the raven said, laughing, "unless she's walking in circles too?" A period rather than a question mark is needed here.
"If you're that smart, which way should we go?" from Ruffie, getting his fur worked up with anger. "From" makes this an incomplete sentence. Replace "from" with a verb, like "responded," "retorted" or "goaded."
"Pick any direction, they're everywhere," the bird said, ruffling her feathers, "everywhere at all." "Everywhere at all" sounds confusing to my ears. "Anywhere at all" offers a choice among many choices. "Everywhere" stands alone as the omnidirectional perspective.
WOW! Your raven sounds like the mean, filled with sniping remarks, dark part of Gollum (TLOR) without the gentle, obsequious, needy part, called, "Smeagol." By the way, you should name the raven during the first encounter, not when they're en route.
She tried to peck Homer on the butt, which only made the rhino angry, him trying to swat her with his tail. Since "him" is a direct object, let's turn this line into two sentences with the subject, "he" beginning the second. She tried to peck Homer on the butt, which only made the rhino angry. He tried to swat her with his tail.
Whoever owned the place must have been feeding a lot of different kinds of people, Doris thought, munching on yummy grain. Since the thought is not spoken, italicizing the phrase could set it apart as internal conversation.
"Isn't it bad enough that you guys invade my building? Do you have to tear it apart. There is a question mark needed for the second question. "Do you have to tear it apart?"
More than once I have seen you designate a speaker, using only the word, "from." The word, "from" is a preposition. To improve the story these each need to be changed to a verb. In every case these "from" sentences are in fact incomplete non-sentences.
Be careful when you use punctuation marks. I keep seeing question marks, where a period should be and vice versa. The following sentence is a good example of this concern. "You could sell that lovesick rhinoceros?" Mr. Samuels told her. In the present order of words, this sentence is a statement. Change the first two words and it becomes a question. "Could you sell that lovesick rhinoceros?" Mr. Samuels told her.
Mr. Rat made a call to the mouse mafia. Unknown to humans, the mouse mafia is a large criminal organization employing hundreds of thousands of meeses, worldwide. Was the term, "meeses," used intentionally for humorous effect? If so, it lacks a little punch in my humble opinion, since the correct word is "mice." Yet, if this is an incident of writing in dialect, then the point can be made for the use of the word, "meeses." In that case, it would be the author's call.
"Hello, Don Meesio? Alfredo Rat here. Look, I got a problem. Maybe you guys can help me out." Okay, I'm, assuming the cliché Italian mafia accent here. Traditionally, they are heavy on the cliché phrase, "youse guys."
What I Like: I like the fact that you have told your story in parable (or fable) format. Talking animals can give humans a much-needed new perspective, regarding life in general and about the animals in specific. There are many usages of parables throughout literature of which I am personally aware. These are ones I like. The Holy Bible has a talking donkey that preaches a short sermon to a recalcitrant prophet. That is one of my favorites. Aesop's Fables are always excellent wisdom tales. C. S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia are some of my all-time favorite novel-length stories. The point is simply this. You are in good company. WRITE ON!