Christmas morning treats

The girls have had some tasty treats this morning, handmade banana and peanut butter treats from Saintly Pet Snax which I scrunched up in wrapping paper and scattered in the bottom half of the cage for them to investigate. Helvetica was first in there (a bit of a blurry photo!) but the others soon followed.

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Hope you have lots of tasty treats today as well!

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Santa’s been already!

Well, he’s left some new bits and pieces for the girls, anyway. They’ve got new hammocks, ropes and other climbing things and have been having a good explore as the cage layout has been changed for the first time in a while. The photo isn’t great and most of the hammocks are behind other things but there’s a hammock hanger with pandas on it downstairs and a bright, flowery treble cuddle upstairs, both from Cosy Beds and Burrows, and downstairs there’s a rat-shaped bed from Furrykind Creations. Plus they have a sputnik for the first time in a while and the routes in and out have to be considered carefully, so it’s not too easy for them.

They’ll get tasty treats and some Christmas dinner tomorrow of course but this should keep them occupied till then.

xmas eve cage

I did add a few more things after taking the photo – egg boxes with some mixed seeds in, a few more cardboard tubes and a cereal box. Just to keep them busy!

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Season’s Greetings

Yet again this year I haven’t managed to take any new Christmas photos of the rats, so by way of consolation here is the much-missed Drumknott, from two years ago. Oh, how he hated having his photo taken.

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Tomorrow we’ll clean the cage out and the girls will get some new hammocks, ladders, ropes and toys, ready for Christmas. I hope you and yours have an enjoyable festive season, however you celebrate.

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Hello again

There hasn’t been much to post about recently – though I should really pick up the Past Rats series again. We were getting to the point when I started the blog so there would start to be some repetition, though.

The girls are all happy in their big group, and I’m so glad that they have settled well. I had been thinking that we were in a phase of being lucky with their health, as everyone is fine though I’m at the stage with the three oldest of checking regularly for lumps. And just thinking that we were doing well was enough to ensure a trip to the vet of course.

Tuesday evening Helvetica was clearly struggling – laboured breathing, eyes half-closed, lethargic, weak and cold. She’s only 15 months old which would be very young to develop heart problems. I discussed it with the breeder and we agreed it seemed like pneumonia; in the meantime I had looked out our leftover meds from earlier in the year and we had some ronaxan (antibiotic), furosemide (diuretic) and fortekor (heart support) but on Tuesday night I couldn’t get her to take anything.

Wednesday morning I managed to get a dose each of all the meds down her and as soon as the vets opened I rang to book her in. When I got home from work she was more alert, and the vet agreed when we saw him that pneumonia was the most likely explanation. So I came home with a comfortingly large quantity of baytril (the most commonly used antibiotic for small furries) and that in combination with the ronaxan should sort everything out.

On Tuesday I had removed her from the main cage and set her up in a hospital cage by herself. By yesterday morning she was already so much better that she was obviously starting to get frustrated with being in a smaller cage alone, so yesterday evening she went back with the others and is much happier.

All in all I could have done without the worry! On Tuesday I really thought we were going to lose her, and the improvement since then has been astounding. What a relief – now we just need to manage to keep her on the antibiotics for a couple of weeks, which is going to be the hard part. She’s already being difficult!

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Wednesday evening – starting to improve (she’d already had a good wander round the sofa when this was taken, and that was more than she could have done on Tuesday).

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A new type of playtime

Rather experimental for us! In recent years a particular method for allowing ratty playtime or free ranging has become very popular – it involves using the plastic panels you can clip together to make storage racks, but instead of making a set of boxes people use them either to make playpens or to block off areas they don’t want the rats to get to. We held off on this for some time because we didn’t really have the setup for it but when we moved the cage back into the larger spare room we started to think about it. Then some of the panels came our way, so sooner or later it was going to happen!

Today I had a bit of a tidy up and decided to see how easy it would be to make a playpen – the answer was “very”. So we put some of their usual bits and bobs in it and put all twelve in to see what they made of it. The answer, arrived at fairly swiftly, was that all twelve at once is a terrible mistake because half of them distract you while the other half are trying to tunnel out/jump over/chew holes in the panels. Anyway.

I took a couple of not-very-good photos on my mobile and also shot a bit of video, though I can’t upload that without upgrading the blog. Maybe one day.

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You can see how the panels clip together – they’re not the most stable things in the world and on balance I’d redo the whole thing with the clips round the other way because our lot just use them to climb up. Boys would probably be less bothered but girls just have to get around, behind or over whatever you put in front of them.

Next time we’ll try again with two groups of six and it might be a bit less frantic!

 

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Hidden talents

Today was the National Fancy Rat Society AGM and pet show. I wasn’t expecting to repeat my triumph from last year (just as well as I would have been very disappointed) but it’s always fun to find out that your rat has a talent they’ve been keeping quiet about.

I took Teacake and Penguin for the experience – they were well-behaved and the judge said nice things about them both, but the standard was very high so I don’t mind that we didn’t get placed at all. But there are also the judge’s special awards – there’s usually four, one is often “kidnapped” and then there might be curliest whiskers, best eyes, anything that the judge notices really.

At one point today the judge looked up just as Penguin managed to grab a fly out of the air! Apparently she caught it, contemplated eating it then seemed to decide it was gross and dropped it. So she came home with a judge’s special rosette for being a “spider rat”.

penguin with rosette

Well done, Penguin – a career in pest control awaits. Which would be ironic for a rat, of course.

 

 

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Full house

This morning we cleaned the cage out and swapped the metal trays round to allow everyone access to the whole cage. This means we’re pretty well done with intros now – it’s been three weeks and they’ve coped well with each new stage. For the moment the cage is fairly minimally furnished but I’ll add more as they settle down. We’ve always got lots more hammocks and ropes, plus there are things like sputniks and various “houses” which can be added.

For the moment the cage looks like this:

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The rope is a heavy duty dog rope from B&M – I bought two yesterday. They also have some very classy boxes which once held bottles of Beck’s beer – the only reason we drink beer in this house is to give our rats somewhere to sleep!

A few pictures of them exploring – Helvetica and Leelawadee both have rather a lot of porphyrin around their eyes at the moment which I am hoping is just because of being a lot of rats in a small space and will start to clear up soon. They should all be happier now that they have more space, and a wheel to run in.

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It’s been over four years since we had the cage fully accessible for one group, so it’s exciting to be able to do so again.

Finally, Mrs Spacey now has a resting place under a Torbay palm in the garden. Sleep well, lovely girl.

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