A couple of quiet exits

Over the last few weeks we have been expecting our two old ladies, Penguin and Leela, to leave us. Both were over 30 months, and as both were “parvo babies” they had done extremely well to get to that age.

At the start of the week we agreed that it was time to make the decision for them. Penguin was active and eating but had noisy breathing and had developed a large mammary lump – with her breathing issues surgery was not an option. Leela just seemed to be fading gradually, becoming a little vague, especially around food, as a result of which she was losing weight (not that she had much to spare).

This morning I found Leela cold and barely breathing. Penguin was obviously distressed. So I took Leela out of the cage and gave Penguin some breakfast, and made that call to the vets. I decided just to take Penguin as Leela was clearly going anyway, and in fact by the time I got back from the vets she had gone.



penguin with rosette

Penguin and the time she won a rosette for catching a fly

Night night, ladies. We’ll miss you.


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Time for a photo session

We decided that after cage cleaning today we would try to get some good photos of the rats – at least of the nine younger ones. Since I posted in mid-February we have given up on the intros between the old ladies Penguin and Leela and the five younger girls, as Penguin was getting badly bullied and injured, and even when we went back to a smaller cage she was showing signs of being depressed and avoiding contact with the others. So she and Leela will live out their days together.

Meanwhile the boys are in the top half of the big cage, happily running in the wheel, and the five girls are downstairs from them, destroying every bit of soft furnishing I put in there. We got the lightbox out this afternoon and took individual photos, as usual ending up with a few good ones and thirty-odd terrible ones, but that’s rat photography for you.

First up, the girls.





(Yes, they’re very similar. We put a sharpie mark on Toccata’s tail, and Fugue has slightly more bald bits.)







And the boys.



Slippery Jim:


(No sharpie marks needed here – Bolivar is slightly bigger and much more laid-back and friendly. Jim is a more greyish colour and less keen on being handled.)



And Zilly:


(Klunk has slightly more prominent eyes and like Bolivar is more keen on people. Zilly will tolerate handling but is generally a bit more stand-offish.)

We’re adapting to life under the lockdown-that-isn’t-really-a-lockdown, and hoping that if we do catch the dreaded virus we don’t get it badly. As far as we know, our pets are not at risk – my only concern is being able to get the supplies to keep them clean and fed, and what happens if we need to get to a vet. Hoping that you and yours are all coping and staying well.

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Five new girls, and introductions

Since New Year we have had a few more losses amongst the old ladies, not surprisingly, and by the end of January there were only two of the original group of twelve left – Penguin and Leela. Penguin has a lump and some persistent respiness and Leela is mostly ok but a little bit vague sometimes. So a conversation was had with our friendly breeder who happened to be rehoming some of her middle-aged ladies, and five were selected – two agouti double rexes, 15 months old, two black-eyed blue point Siamese,  one of 11 months old and one 10 months old, and a 10-month old red eyed Siamese (the agoutis are sisters but none of the others are related).

We attempted some photos last weekend with mixed results! Names have only just been assigned this morning.

new girls 8th feb 2020 (5)


new girls 8th feb 2020 (1)


new girls 8th feb 2020 (3)


new girls 8th feb 2020 (2)


new girls 8th feb 2020 (4)


Corsiva and Lucida are smaller than the others, and all five are lively and inquisitive. The three Siameses had already been together but the agoutis were new to them so we have had a couple of weeks of them all getting to know each other, and yesterday we took a deep breath and put them in a carrier with our little old ladies.

Phase 1: Let us out of here!

15 feb 2020 intros 1

Phase 2: Go away, we’re sleeping.

15 feb 2020 intros 2

After a few hours of Phase 2 we gave them an upgrade to the hamster cage, plus a bit of scattered food.

Phase 3: More space! And stuff to eat!

15 feb 2020 intros 3

And pretty quickly they settled down in there too.

Phase 4: Yeah yeah, we’re all getting on ok.

15 feb 2020 intros 4

They’re been in there for nearly a day now so we’ll have another upgrade later this afternoon, and they can have a bigger cage and some treats. Fingers crossed that it all continues to go smoothly. The older ladies are used to being in a big group so they should take it all in their stride, and the younger ones seem to be pretty much unfazed by most things.

Meanwhile the boys are now in the top half of the big cage and have the wheel – it took two days for them to go anywhere near it but they seem to like it now. They’re lovely, affectionate and chilled boys, and I’m thinking of showing a couple of them in Pets before they get much older. Bolivar in particular loves attention and is always first to the cage door. Haven’t had chance to get many photos of them lately though – but I did get this one morning recently. Three of them could be bothered to get out of bed and say hello and the fourth couldn’t.


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Time for a cage swap

Things have moved on apace since I last posted. We now have only two elderly ladies – Leelawadee and Penguin are the last of our big group of twelve. Hard to believe, but we knew it would happen. So today at cage cleaning we moved them into a single level cage together, rather than have them rattling round in an enormous cage, and then moved the four boys up to the upper level of the explorer, so they’re easier to keep an eye on and they get the wheel. Not that I’ve seen them get in it yet. Time will tell.

In the meantime our friendly breeder has offered us some girls who are between ten and fifteen months old. The plan is to intro them (or at least some of them) to Penguin and Leela so we don’t end up with a lone one. Details to be arranged, watch this space!

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Lots of news

It seems a lot has been happening here but I haven’t been posting which is very bad of me. We have had losses and gains over the last couple of months and while the losses are sad, these girls have been with us for a long time and have been wonderful pets, and we’re so grateful to have had them.

Since I last posted, we lost Little My, just short of 2.5 years old – she had hind leg degeneration and just gradually declined. Then a few weeks later Helvetica left us, we suspect a possible pituitary tumour but definitely something neurological. At around the same time we realised The Snork Maiden had a lump below one ear which was an abscess indicative of a Zymbals Gland tumour – these are nasty things and there is very little that can be done other than keeping the rat comfortable as long as possible. She was brave and determined but by last night she had had enough. She was a little over 31 months old which is pretty good.

rats 23rd mar 2019 (3)

Little My




The Snork Maiden

This leaves seven slightly wobbly and decrepit old ladies. Verdana has a large mammary tumour and will probably not be with us much longer. Nygma has a suspected ZGT, not as advanced as Snork Maiden’s was but it seems to be bothering her more. Dolores has a mammary lump and hind leg degeneration, so is not a good candidate for surgery, so we are keeping a close eye. The other four are about as well as can be expected.

In the plus column, since my last post we have acquired two more boys and are introducing them to Klunk and Zilly. The new boys came to us six weeks ago and are both Russian Blue Agouti dumbos. We named them Bolivar and Slippery Jim, after Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat. We gave them a few weeks to grow a little bigger before starting introductions, and it’s all gone encouragingly well.

22 sept 2019 bolivar


22 sept 2019 slippery jim

Slippery Jim

The photos were taken a few weeks ago so they’re a bit bigger now. Very cheeky, and living up to their names well!

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A significant birthday

The WingDings turned two on Friday. They are the five sisters who came to us as fosters in October 2017 due to a parvo outbreak at the rattery; they stayed until May 2018 then went back to the breeder, then after a couple of months they came back to us permanently. We have always been aware that the parvo could have a long term effect on their health, and given that they had siblings who died at only a few weeks old, all the time we have had with them has been a bonus.

A couple of them are starting to look old and a little frail – Verdana has a mammary lump which came up very fast and is in a tricky location so I am not risking surgery (in my defence I have not been on the ball with everything over the last month as I had shingles, so may have missed some early signs). Helvetica seems a little vague and wobbly which could be early indications of a pituitary tumour, so we are keeping an close eye on her. Mistral, Bodoni and Leela are all in reasonable health – in fact Mistral, who gave us concerns early on when she developed an ear infection, is probably the sprightliest of the five.


Verdana and Mistral













They all still live with the Snork Maiden, Little My, Dolores, Penguin and Nygma. Snork Maiden is the oldest and still in fine fettle; Little My, a few days younger than her, has hind leg degeneration but is still getting around pretty well. The others are doing fine, and Penguin and Nygma will be two next month.

Realistically we can expect more losses this year but for now they are happy and active, which is as good as it gets.

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It’s been an awfully long time since I posted anything – I’m very sorry. We’ve been having one of those summers where all sorts of things happen and when I sit down at the computer the thought of writing blogs is the last thing on my mind. However, as I’ve got a spare few minutes I thought I’d just quickly say hello.

Since I last posted we have lost another girl – little Teacake had chronic respiratory problems and despite trying pretty much everything she left us at the beginning of July. The group as a whole seems to be slowing down, very little by way of specific ailments but a general air of “getting on a bit”.

On a happier note, the same breeder offered us two Siamese boys and I collected them on Sunday. We’ve called them Klunk and Zilly:

klunk being cute


zilly being cute


k and z in pouch

Both boys

Telling them apart is going to be a challenge.

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Burial and reburial

Today I have laid little Miss Snufkin to rest in a pretty silver pot, with a heuchera called Georgia Peach keeping her cosy. Her friends have settled back into normal behaviour again, there had been a bit of squabbling just after she passed as I think it upset the social order a little. The Snork Maiden has had a lump removed followed by some complications, but is now fully on the mend, thankfully, and apart from a few sneezes and wheezes everyone is doing well.

15 apr 2019 snufkin buried

I also had to rebury Cosmo as his second plant died over the winter – despite me doing my best to protect it from the cold. He also has a heuchera, Green Spice, which goes very well with his green glazed pot.

15 apr 2019 cosmo reburied

I hope you and yours are all well!


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Birthday photos

We’ve had a couple of birthdays in the last week – The Snork Maiden and Little My have both turned two. Sad that little Snufkin didn’t quite make it. Also The Snork Maiden has a lump (probably a mammary tumour) which is being removed on Tuesday before it gets too big.

Anyway, The Snork Maiden’s birthday was last Sunday so everyone got bacon flavoured treats, but I failed to get any photos. Little My’s birthday was just a couple of days ago, so I took a few pictures yesterday while they were out and hunting for prawn crackers in their dig boxes!

First, the most recent birthday girl:

rats 23rd mar 2019 (3)

She and Bodoni had been cracker hunting in the small box:

rats 23rd mar 2019 (1)

Bodoni emerged with a self-satisfied look and prawn cracker crumbs in her whiskers.

rats 23rd mar 2019 (2)

The bigger dig box was popular too:

rats 23rd mar 2019 (4)

L-R: Mistral, Helvetica, Nygma and The Snork Maiden

Helvetica agreed to pose nicely:

rats 23rd mar 2019 (5)

Then tried to get into the small box with Mistral and Nygma:

rats 23rd mar 2019 (6)

That was never going to work…

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We had to say goodbye to dear little Snufkin this week. She started to show signs of illness two weeks ago, becoming a little unsteady and wobbly and staring to have difficulty holding food. While I was fairly sure it was going to turn out to be a pituitary tumour, initially we tried treatment for an ear infection as the early symptoms are very similar. A steroid shot perked her up a little and she continued to eat fairly well for much of last week but antibiotics had no effect so that made it clear it was not an infection after all. By this Monday she was fading fast. While another steroid might have provided a few more days’ relief it would be unfair to keep that cycle going, and as the tumour grew the intervals where she could function would get shorter and shorter.

So on Tuesday I took her to the vets for the last time. I’d hoped she might go by herself on Monday night but as often seems to happen she had trouble letting go so we had to help her along. The others seem to have had a bit of a reshuffle and I think there may have been a fight or two but they’re settling back down again.

Night night, Snufkin. You were such a sweetie, with your wonky tail and the bit out of your ear. Going to miss you, baby.



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