New kids

So after Cromarty left us, we were concerned about Fitzroy. Initially we tried to re-intro him to Biscay but that ended badly, so we went for Plan B – new youngsters. We were able to get in contact with a breeder who had some boys of about the right age (10 weeks-ish) and boys were duly acquired a week ago. They had a night to settle in then we put them with Fitzroy and held our breath…

There has been no aggro of any sort. He snuggles down with them to go to sleep. They are not frightened of him. That’s the good news. That, and they’re cute. We’ve called them Minty and Cosmo. (Discworld names.)

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There is bad news, though. Fitzroy will not eat now unless hand-fed, and not always then. Unless he’s eating when our backs are turned, of course. He is (I think) grieving much more than he did in the first few days after Cromarty’s death. I think he likes being with the boys but also feels he is no longer needed here. I keep hoping I’m wrong and that he will perk up, but as each day passes that looks less and less likely. We’ll see.

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First loss of the year

Entirely expected, in fact the vet said we had done well to keep him in reasonable health for as long as we did. But today was the day my lovely ginger boy Cromarty had to meet the Grim Squeaker at last. His breathing took a turn for the worse last weekend and he seemed to lack the energy to eat – at first we soldiered on with me hand-feeding him soft foods but last night he would only have his blob of pudding with his meds in it, and this morning he wouldn’t even have that.

Sleep tight, handsome. I’m going to miss you.

*sigh* "Ok, I suppose. How's this angle?"

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Come on, girls, it’s time to get out of bed.

 

 

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“But we’re comfy.”

Yes, I know, but it’s Sunday afternoon and that means cage cleaning. You need to get out of bed now.

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“Go away, human.”

 

 

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Fighting grime, and other unpleasant reflections

Pretty much as soon as we got the steel trays for the big cage, I started thinking about steam cleaners. For years we have used a combination of cleaning techniques, usually involving cage furniture being taken away and washed in hot soapy water which the cages themselves were wiped down with disinfectant. This is generally fine for plastic cages and shelves, but I found it wasn’t working so well with the galvanised steel trays, and if you’ve even had to clean dried-on poo off galvanised steel you’ll know what I mean.

I was aware that other owners used small hand-held steam cleaners for their cages so I started looking around for good ones. Then I changed tack and started looking for cheap ones on the grounds that if it was going to be a waste of money I’d rather it was a waste of a small amount, not a large amount.

A few weeks ago I found a suitable one with money off in a local shop, and decided to buy it and see how it went. The answer is that it’s very good, and I’m pleased with how easy it is to use. A lot less elbow grease and picking away at stubborn bits, and I don’t have to worry about using disinfectant, which I’d rather not do around the rats anyway. So far I’ve only used it a couple of times but it’s good. I haven’t tried it on the plastic cage as I’m not sure that would be a good idea.

In other news, we went to a rat show last week – first of the year for us. We weren’t showing anyone; as I said last time, ours are all starting to get on a bit. Since my last post, Scarecrow has had to have a mammary lump removed and we are keeping an eye on her and her sister Ragweed in case more appear. Cromarty isn’t really iproving on his current medication so we may have to rethink. Sam and Susan’s lumps continue to grow, slowly thanks to the Galastop, but even so… Though they are all still lively and active we are getting the sense much more of an ageing population. One of the things we took the opportunity to do at the show last week was to talk to a couple of friends who breed rats and get ourselves on their waiting lists for later in the year, just to be on the safe side.

But we don’t need to think about that just yet.

 

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Looking forwards

It’s no accident that most of my blog posts get written on Sundays. Sunday afternoon is cage cleaning time and that gives me an hour or so to think about what I might want to write.

Though the title for this is “Looking forwards” there’s bound to be some Looking Back as well. It occurred to me last night that it’s been just over a year since the three boys moved in, and though it hasn’t been a year of massive changes it did change the way we operate our rat room to a certain extent. 2015 will almost certainly see a lot of change, though, as we have an ageing group and losses will be inevitable.

At the moment the five girls are all doing pretty well, but Sam has two or three lumps and Susan has one (all growing more slowly than they would normally do, thanks to Galastop). They’re over two years old now but not really showing many signs of age, though with the lumps I do wonder how long that will continue. The other three are all around the 18 months mark so could easily be with us another year. All three are in good health; Ragweed is going bald but that’s a rex thing.

Biscay and his girls are also doing well, though he’s got very tubby. It doesn’t seem to slow him down, which is a good thing. Misty and Boots are around 18 months old and I assume Biscay is a similar age – by the time he came here he’d fathered a litter and the babies were around 10-12 weeks old so if he is younger than the girls it won’t be by much.

Fitzroy and Cromarty are still my cuddly boys. I do love having a pair of soppy daft lads (Fitzroy is a bit less so than Cromarty, but he won’t turn down a cuddle if it’s offered). Cromarty’s respiness seems to be responding, slowly, to treatment for congestive heart failure and as he is a lot less lethargic than any rat with CHF I’ve had before, I am optimistic that we have caught it early and he will be with us for a while yet. As with Biscay we don’t know how old they are, but they were fully grown when they came here and I assumed then that they were around 9 to 12 months old, so they could be as much as two now. Like Sam and Susan, if they are two they don’t seem to show it.

So we don’t really know what this year will bring, but I do expect to have some changes in residents over the coming months. Let’s hope there aren’t too many all at once.

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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 650 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 11 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Another Christmas

Christmas followed the usual pattern here yesterday, though for the boys it was all new and they seemed a bit surprised by it. The ratties got their lunch after we had ours – the photos are a little fuzzy as the battery in my camera was flat so I used my phone, apologies for that, and also for not getting a pic of everyone – the photos of Fitzroy and Misty just didn’t come out very well at all.

Cromarty having his Christmas lunch

Cromarty having his Christmas dinner

They had chicken, carrots, Yorkshire pud and gravy. Sprouts aren’t very good for them – not cooked, anyway, but my lot are prima donnas about raw veg so I didn’t try them with raw.

Biscay tucking in

Biscay tucking in

Boots likes Christmas dinner

Boots likes Christmas dinner

Some of the girls were just too comfy in their Christmassy hammock and didn't want to get up

Some of the girls were just too comfy in their Christmassy hammock and didn’t want to get up

But in the end they were all tempted, and every scrap got eaten

But in the end they were all tempted, and every scrap got eaten

Later on, in the evening, we gave them their stocking (from Christmas Stockings for Pets). They also had a box of treats from my mum, and of course their new hammocks which they’ve had since Sunday.

Again the boys were a bit unsure what was going on…

"Dis for me?"

“Dis for me?”

Fitzroy in particular wanted nothing to do with it until we got a present out for him

"Nope."

“Nope.”

"Well, if you insist."

“Well, if you insist.”

The boys got hazelnuts and peanuts in their shells, which they took back to the cage and which have now vanished. Possibly under a pile of bedding, but I hope they managed to get into them eventually.

The girls were a lot less hesitant.

"Ours. Definitely."

“Ours. Definitely. But what do we do with it?”

"Things! There's things in here!"

“Things! There’s things in here!”

"Yoink."

“Yoink.”

And commence unwrapping.

And commence unwrapping.

The girls’ selection was mostly tasty snacks, though they also found one of those little edible toothbrush chews which was popular.

Last but not least, Biscay and his girls had a go. Surprisingly Biscay wasn’t terrified of the stocking, though I couldn’t persuade him to show any interest in any of the actual contents.

"Hmm. This seems to contain food."

“Hmm. This seems to contain food.”

"I will let the girls go first in case the food is a lie."

“I will let Boots go first in case the food is a lie.”

"Cake!"

“Cake!”

"Well, if you're sure it's safe."

“Well, if you’re sure it’s safe.”

So that was our ratty Christmas. They all seemed pretty happy with their haul. And of course it was Sam and Susan’s second birthday as well – they still behave like rats half their age and long may that continue.

Hoping that Santa brought you and yours everything you asked for.

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