Despite my optimism last time, Hallowe’en pretty much bypassed our household! Maybe someone will wear the batwings again next year. October proved to be a month of challenges – at the end of September my mum had a fall and was then in hospital for a few days, followed by care homes until she was ready to go home. This meant her dog stayed with us, which changed our routines completely of course.
Mum went home on the 31st and I stayed the first night at her house to make sure she was ok (she is fine, but not as mobile as usual quite yet). On the 30th, at cage cleaning time, I realised that Drumknott had sprouted an enormous lump on his backside – it had come up quickly and was very hard so I could only hope it was an abscess, and get him to the vet as quickly as possible to get it checked and dealt with. This meant fitting appointments around getting my mum home and settled on the Monday. Unfortunately when the vet had a look he was pretty sure it was a tumour, so then it had to be removed the next day – more fitting appointments around other commitments, but we managed it, and the lump was successfully removed, though I will have to keep an eye on it in case it recurs. He is now recovering well, thankfully.
In amongst all that last week, Dimity became ill too, with a head tilt. This is normally a symptom of an ear infection or stroke and in either case the treatment initially is a basic antibiotic plus an anti-inflammatory. If it’s an ear infection there’s usually fairly rapid improvement, but either can leave the rat with a permanent head tilt. She has improved a little, but I suspect that it may be due to her adapting as much as anything. It’s a little hard to be sure but I did think at one point that one eye was bulging a little, which together with the head tilt could indicate a brain tumour, but I’m not so sure now. She is soldiering on, anyway, but tomorrow will be the last day I can give her the anti-inflammatory drug so after that I think we will be asking the vet for a steroid to see if that helps. (My vets don’t like giving steroids straight away in case there is underlying infection, as the steroid can suppress the immune system and cause the infection to worsen.)
In happier news, we will be getting three new girls soon from a friend who breeds nice silver fawns (ginger, like my beloved Cromarty). I think we’ll be getting them next month at the NFRS Christmas show, unless we can arrange to meet before then, but it’s such a busy time of year. And then we’ll have to think of some suitable names…
A few weeks ago I visited our friend N (maker of the lovely crowns and Xmas hats the rats have been seen modelling in previous posts). She has been working on some new items – over the summer she made butterfly wings, and for Hallowe’en she has been trying out bat wings, dragon wings and pirate hats. She was kind enough to give me some bat wings and today I decided we would try them out, and see how the boys took to them.
First up was Drumknott, who was fairly unimpressed:
Shame, as I thought the black and green combo would suit him.
Lias was a bit happier, and even looked as though he thought if he could get up high enough he’d be able to fly:
Later we got Cosmo and the girls out for a bit of a run, though they were reluctant to co-operate at all which didn’t fill me with confidence…
But we did eventually get them out of the carrier tray…
and there was even a bit of exploring…
The bat wings would be far too big for the girls so we tried them on Cosmo.
After some initial discomfort he did get use to them:
Though like Lias was apparently frustrated at his inability to take off.
Cosmo: It’s not fair! why can’t I fly? Dimity: There there, dear. Perhaps you just need more practice.
On balance, I think Lias wore them best.
O hai! U liek ma wings?
The first of our three rescue girls to leave us. I know from others who had rats from the same rescue that they are starting to have health problems and a few have already died so I have been keeping an eye on ours. Dotsie became ill during the week, apparently in pain though there was no obvious cause. A trip to the vets was inconclusive, though she was uncharacteristically docile which worried me. We got some anti-inflammatories for her to help with whatever pain she was in and she seemed to perk up a little, though she didn’t have much appetite.
On Friday night, though, it was clear she was deteriorating fast, as she was unresponsive. She died before we had chance to get her to a vet, though in all honesty a vet could only have helped her passing. We suspect it was a pituitary tumour, a cruel fate which robs the rat of co-ordination and the ability to feed and wash. If caught early enough its progress can be slowed down but in Dotsie’s case the time from first symptom to being too far gone to do anything was very swift. Perhaps a good thing – I don’t think she suffered once we were giving her painkillers, and ultimately was not really aware of anything around her.
Sorry we couldn’t do more for you, Dotsie. Your friends are missing you.
Dotsie a few days after she first came to us, Oct 2015
And her resting place, under a pretty heuchera called Tapestry
It’s been a while… my garden blog The Random Gardener has been a bit more active, though not much! There really hasn’t been a lot of rattie news, they have just been getting on with life, and I have been dealing with other things. My foot surgery went well and I’m now pretty much back to normal – we managed with the cage cleaning, though the first time we had to do a full clean I was exhausted afterwards. I didn’t get to do any Past Rats posts for you, as you’ll have noticed… In truth I was only off sick from work for five days and after that I worked from home for a few weeks.
You may remember I’ve mentioned the Heart of England Rat Club in the past – well sadly the show on 18th June (which I couldn’t get to) was our last show. The committee decided to wind up the club as we were not getting the attendance and interest from members. Most of the others were already involved with the National Fancy Rat Society so I have re-joined (I was briefly a member about 10 or 12 years ago) and will be going to some of their shows from time to time, so may well report back.
The hot weather hasn’t really done any of us any favours, but the rats have survived with the aid of ice cubes, frozen fruit, a fan on a timer, and the ever-faithful granite blocks. Things should start to settle down again now. We had a terrific thunderstorm yesterday and while I was wandering around looking out of windows and trying to get pictures of black clouds I also took a few of the rats. Drumknott was pretty cross with me for waking him up (and for the lack of food):
“Dis fud bol empty. U tryin to starv me. I hate u.”
Lias couldn’t even be bothered to get out of bed.
Better luck next time.
There hasn’t been much to report lately – sorry! Everyone is pottering along happily. The boys will be turning 1 soon so there will probably be photos then😉
The next Heart of England rat show is on 18th June and is actually a joint show with the National Fancy Rat Society. I was very much looking forward to it as I’ve never been to an NFRS show but won’t be able to go as I’m having surgery on my left big toe on 14th June! So I’ll be sitting with my foot up and not doing a great deal for a while after that. I’m a bit concerned about how we will look after the rats, especially getting them cleaned out, but no doubt we will manage. Generally speaking if we empty litter trays and change hammocks fairly regularly there isn’t much of a problem if we don’t do a full clean every week.
Maybe while I’m laid up I’ll have time to work through some more “Past rats” posts for you!
Yesterday I worked at home for the last hour or so of the day which meant it was still warm and sunny when I finished work. I took a few pictures in the garden (which will end up on my other blog) and then took some of the ratties. And then realised these were the first rat pictures of 2016, which is very bad of me.
Cosmo was very pose-y but most of the others couldn’t be bothered.
Dotsie was up and about and didn’t run for cover the minute I opened the cage door:
But Keepsake and Dimity stayed very firmly in the hammock (though I did get a close-up of Keepsake):
Drumknott and Lias weren’t much better, and refused to get out of the cube – Drumknott thought about it at one point but changed his mind.
To be fair they did look very comfy!