Playtime

We have a new playtime game – digging for treats. A shoebox filled with shredded paper with some popcorn hidden in amongst it provides all five girls with a reasonable amount of distraction and entertainment. I think everyone found something, even if they didn’t all manage to finish eating what they found! We scatter feed them rather than using bowls so they’re used to foraging for their dinner anyway, and got the hang of it very quickly.

I’m hoping very much that we are all settling down again from the shenanigans of the last ten days or so. Leggy went back in with the others last weekend and has continued to heal very well. Coffee went to see our vet on Monday and after a brief discussion where we agreed that the most likely cause of her lashing out was hormonal, and that spaying was rather invasive given that there was no other reason to spay, the vet gave her the Suprelorin implant there and then. Just a little gas to sedate her as it’s basically a large injection. I brought her home and put her in the Mary overnight (she was very unimpressed) then she went back with the others the next morning. It takes a few weeks for the implant to take full effect so we shall see.

The next rat show I’m planning to go to is the NFRS AGM and pet show, so I may put Little My and the Snork Maiden in and see how they do. They are both extremely friendly and outgoing, and like nothing more than climbing up your arm to get on your shoulder. If they win anything I’l be sure to let you know 😉

Our former resident Lias turned two last month and I’m reliably informed that he is still happily living with his “wife”, Ingrid. I’m glad he’s having a happy retirement.

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In the wars

For the most part the five girls have settled down fine. The youngsters are growing quickly and love attention – always first to the cage door, and very keen to show off their prowess in the wheel. The older girls have been friendly enough though a little more reserved, which is perhaps to be expected as a consequence of being rehomed in middle age.

There has been one issue, though, and it’s a new one for us. About every five or six days Coffee and Leggy have been arguing – and not just the usual squabbling girl argument we are used to. Sometimes it hasn’t been too bad but on a couple of occasions Leggy has been injured. Most recently on Wednesday evening she was left with a very nasty facial wound which needed stitching. It’s a good job we have an emergency vet nearby.

So after some discussion with the breeder we will be taking Coffee to see our vet on Monday to talk about options. The five to six day interval suggests it is a hormonal issue, as that is how often they go into heat, but Coffee is at an age where this should be getting less frequent. However it’s possible that her age means the hormones are rather more random (like being menopausal) and combined with being rehomed and put with three youngsters, she just isn’t coping and is taking it out on Leggy. The two of them are very close the rest of the time and always sleep together so I’m convinced it is something Coffee can’t control.

The options really are spaying, or an implant called suprelorin. I’ve never tried the implant with any of our girls before but have heard good reports. To my mind, spaying is reserved for life-or-death situations as it’s a big deal for such a small animal, but we will see what the vet thinks.

In the meantime Leggy is by herself but much better than she was on Wednesday night. Follow-up visit this evening and then I hope we can put her back with the others. She saw them at playtime last night and was back to normal with them straight away, so I’d like to get them all back together as soon as possible.

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Who’d wear a fur coat?

Especially in this weather. Rats don’t like hot weather, and have been shown to have a form of Seasonal Affective Disorder making them depressed in summer, because of the longer days.

Our rat room is one of the coolest rooms in the house but even so it’s been warm in there for the last week or so. The rats have big bowls of water, regular top-ups of ice cubes (often with frozen fruit or veg) and frozen granite blocks, as well as a cool air blower. They seem to be coping ok.

They also now have their 16″ Tic Tac wheel, and the Snork Maiden decided yesterday was the perfect day to start using it. One of the hottest days of the year so far, and she decides to start running!

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An apology

I have been rubbish about keeping you all updated on the new girls and I apologise. The thing is there are not enough hours in the day (that’s not just me, is it?). Anyway, I’ve been trying to get pictures without using flash till they all get a bit more relaxed but that’s not going so well, so I have a load of blurry grainy pictures that are no help whatsoever.

I did manage to tweet this one on Thursday:

rats on election day

A lot of people were taking their rats to polling stations but I didn’t trust this mob to behave.

The week before last we realised Coffee Girl’s tail had gone wonky, she can’t move it very well apart from the very base so we think she’s fallen on it or something like that. She doesn’t seem overly bothered but obviously it’s going to have implications for her balance, and if she hasn’t got much feeling in it then injuries could be a problem.

Around the same time she and Leggy had a massive fight and Leggy ended up with an injury to one lower eyelid which at this point isn’t healing very well, poor girl. So lots of antibiotics for her at the moment. So basically we went from hardly being near the vets since January to two visits on consecutive days. But it goes with the territory and I would still rather have them than not.

The babies are growing well and shaping up to be cheeky little madams which is good. And this is literally the best photo I got this evening – Snufkin, looking suspicious:

SONY DSC

 

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Starting again

Hello, it’s been a while. Things have moved on. We have had a break of about four months from having rats and are just getting going again.

So on Sunday we took on three youngsters and two adults from a breeder in Cambridgeshire. Photos so far are not great quality as I’ve been using my phone, so please excuse the out-of-focus stuff.

The adults are called Coffee Girl (because she’s coffee-coloured):coffee girl 22 may 2017

And Leggy McLegface (because she’s got a scar on her leg from a lump removal):

leggy 22 may 2017

(They came to us named, by the way.)

The babies are Snufkin (black Berkshire dumbo):

snufkin 22 may 2017

Little My (black, top-eared):

little my 22 may 2017

And The Snork Maiden (mink, top-eared):

snork maiden 22 may 2017

Currently I am trying to get all five into one group so they’re in a rather empty cage in the living room. It’s better than yesterday when they were all in a hamster cage, but they’re still squabbling a bit so they have to stay as they are for now. When I went out to work earlier, the adults and Snufkin were curled up in one corner:

25 may progress (2)

and Little My and the Snork Maiden were in another:

25 may progress (1)

(How cute is the Snork Maiden?)

When I got back from work, the Snork Maiden was by herself and the other four were all snuggled up:

25 may progress (5)

and it looks as though Coffee Girl is throwing her weight around a bit. The babies seem to be submitting to her but she’s in a bit of a strop at the moment. I think she and Leggy are trying to sort out who’s boss.

Once they can settle down they’ll go in the top half of the big cage, and what they don’t know yet is I’ve bought the biggest rat wheel I could find for them:

25 may progress (6)

Can’t wait to see them running around in that!

 

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News of Lias

You may remember that Lias returned to his breeder in January. Since then, he’s been doing his best to ensure he’s never forgotten – so far he’s fathered three litters. I went over today to see how he’s doing and meet my “grandkids” – the babies are adorable, of course, but Lias couldn’t be bothered to get out of bed and say hello. In fairness he was cuddled up with Ingrid, his favourite lady, and he seems very happy indeed.

The oldest of his litters is nearly four weeks old now, growing fast and very friendly.

some of litter 1

Just a few of the little bundles of adorableness

These two boys already have a home to go to:

cat's boyscat's boys again

(And it’s not us, before you ask!)

This litter is a few days old – two boys, four girls:

litter 2

And this is the most recent:

litter 3

Our aim is to have some of Lias’s offspring at some point – possibly from the two most recent litters, but we’ll have to see!

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Past rats: D.R. and Quinch

On our Memory Lane trip we’ve reached the point where we first had boys. These two probably made about the biggest impression on us, even though we only had them for just over a year and they both died young.

They weren’t brothers – D.R. was from Symphony Rats and Quinch from Comis Rats – but they were together from about seven or eight weeks old and bonded very easily. The names are from the Alan Moore comic written for 2000AD and just seemed to suit them ridiculously well – D.R. (Diminished Responsibility) was a cheeky little troublemaker and Quinch was definite sidekick material.

When they first arrived they were tiny and a bit shy, but that didn’t last long.

pair1

D.R. was always fairly relaxed about being handled:

rats-28jan09-043

Quinch could be a bit less co-operative:

rats-28jan09-040

But they were lovely lads with bags of character. During playtime, D.R. would be the active one, running around exploring and wanting to play with you, while Quinch as often as not could be found under a cushion, bruxing happily. At one point we realised D.R. had invented a new game and completely suckered me into playing it. They would be on our bed, and I’d be lying on my side with my head propped on one hand. He started running the length of the bed and jumping through the gap created by my head, neck and arm. The first few times it was pretty straightforward, he’d just run up as fast as he could, but then he started to vary it. He’d try to sneak up on me, using the cushions as hiding places. Or he’d sit next to me looking casual, then suddenly run for the gap. If he was trying to hide he’d always give his position away, because he’d be so excited he’d be bruxing loudly. Of course I had to pretend not to be watching him, or he wouldn’t play at all.

24 May 004

D.R.

24 May 010

Quinch

For all his swagger and his attempts to boss us around, D.R. was a sensitive little soul really. Once I gave him a good telling off for chewing the cage bars, and he sulked and refused to come near me for two days. But he got over it and was soon back to his normal cheeky self.

He became ill about a year after we’d got them and despite initially rallying, he eventually succumbed to internal tumours. While he was ill, I saw a truly lovely example of rat altruism from Quinch. D.R. was in some pain and had been given a steroid injection to help with it, but it hadn’t started to work yet. I’d put him in the cage and he’d crawled about half-way into their little house then flaked out. I filled the food bowl up – Quinch’s favourite time of day, that boy could eat for Britain – and Quinch went straight over, picked out some of his favourite bits of the mix, then put them carefully next to D.R. before going back to get something for himself. It was almost like he was saying “I know you feel rough now, but you’ll be hungry when you wake up so I saved something for you.”

Losing D.R. was rough for us but much harder on Quinch. Before the tumours started we had acquired two rescue boys, Luther and Arkwright, and started trying to intro them to the big lads. All that stopped when D.R. became ill, but after his death we tried again so Quinch didn’t have to be alone. Bless him, he was very tolerant of them but he didn’t want to know. Soon he became ill and we realised he had congestive heart failure; he died about a month after D.R.

Our next boys would be much more of a handful, but despite their short lives D.R. and Quinch were about as good as rats get in terms of personality and temperament. I still miss them, even after all this time.

 

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