All together now…

Cosmo finally decided to assert his authority and join the little boys in the cube hammock. There was much bruxing and boggling while he was falling asleep.

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Expect the unexpected

A week ago, I would not have thought I’d be writing this post. Nearly two weeks ago, our friend S who had been looking after Cosmo and Minty got in touch to say that she had taken Minty out of the group they were in and put him with the youngsters who were nearly ready to go to new homes (two of which we would be having anyway) as he had lost a bit of weight and had some injuries, and she thought he was being bullied. By last weekend he seemed to have an abscess coming up under his chin and he was on antibiotics and being given tasty foods to try and get some weight on; by this time he was in a cage with just the two little boys who were coming to us.

By Thursday evening he was a bit brighter and we arranged to go and collect him and his two new friends on Sunday (yesterday). Then on Friday S messaged me to let me know that she had just found him forever asleep. He was less than 7 months old and we have no idea what went wrong but having discussed it with his breeder as well as S we are agreed that he was being edged out of the older group two weeks ago because of a major health issue. S did everything possible but rats are often difficult to treat because they don’t show clear symptoms until it’s too late.

So she put Cosmo with the little boys and yesterday we went and collected the three of them. They are settling in here, Cosmo seems to remember me and is being a bit clingy and the little boys are being a bit wary. They don’t seem to want to snuggle up with Cosmo and at the moment he’s a bit lonely but I’m sure they will sort themselves out.

I took some photos yesterday when they were exploring their new cage, and some more this morning when we got them out for a few minutes’ run. Names have been assigned – the blue rex boy, who is just coming up to 11 weeks old, is Lias Bluestone (Lias for short) and the black, who’s almost 9 weeks old, is Rufus Drumknott (or just Drumknott). Discworld names, of course.

Yesterday:

The Cosmo Has Landed

The Cosmo Has Landed

"Who are you? What is this place?"

“Who are you? What is this place?”

"Dis for me?"

“Dis for me?”

"What dis? Dis for me?"

“What dis? Dis for me?”

"Dis food. Dis for me."

“Dis food. Dis for me.”

"I'm just going to sit here and look cute."

“I’m just going to sit here and look cute.”

The would have been a great pic of Drumknott if it had been focussed properly.

The would have been a great pic of Drumknott if it had been focussed properly.

And this one of Lias makes his colour look completely different from the other photos.

And this one of Lias makes his colour look completely different from the other photos.

And this morning, we turfed the little ones out of the sputnik where they seemed to have spent all night, and had to give them both a wash as they were covered in wee and poo. So their bums look a bit odd in the photos as they were still a bit wet from the “bath”!.

Drumknott

Drumknott

Lias discovering the joys of feather wands

Lias discovering the joys of feather wands

Cosmo; "Do I really have to live with these two?"

Cosmo; “Do I really have to live with these two?”

Drumknott

Drumknott looking wary

Lias exploring

Lias exploring

Drumknott in traditional "peeping out from under cushion" pose

Drumknott in traditional “peeping out from under cushion” pose

Lias and his mucky nose (I don't want to know where it's been!)

Lias and his mucky nose (I don’t want to know where it’s been!)

And a last one of Cosmo, gorgeous boy.

And a last one of Cosmo, gorgeous boy.

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Sam’s resting place

We have laid Sam to rest in the garden today, beneath a lovely salvia:

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This variety is called Hot Lips because of its striking flowers.

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Another loss

You’ll have been aware that Sam and Susan (aka Samhain and Saturnalia) had some lumps last year and since then we have been treating them with Galastop, usually used to treat phantom pregnancies in dogs but often helpful at a much lower dose to slow the growth of mammary tumours in rats. Sam didn’t respond as well to the treatment as Susan, and developed a number of lumps (to Susan’s one) which continued to grow, though slowly. She was determined to keep going, however, which made it all the harder to reach the decision to have her put to sleep.

I will admit that I had been hoping she would let go by herself, and for a couple of weeks had been finding her apparently gone but in fact just sleeping deeply (I always felt terribly guilty about waking her up). But last week we reached a point where I could no longer let her continue, and she made her final vet visit last Saturday (first thing, because we then had to go to a rat show).

Susan is still with us but her lump continues to grow and we think she has developed a second one. Sirocco is also having Galastop now as she developed a lump a few weeks ago. So now we have one group of six doddery, lumpy and wheezy old ladies – Scarecrow and Ragweed are back on antibiotics, but not responding as well to the meds as they have in the past. I foresee our numbers declining over the next month or so.

I have seen Cosmo and Minty a few times recently and they seem to be behaving themselves, by and large. The plan now is for S, who has been looking after them, to intro them to two youngsters (a blue rex and a black smooth-coated) and we see how they go from there. So we could have them back with us soon, along with a couple of younger cagemates.

I shall leave you with a little picture of Sam. She was a sweetie, good-natured to the last.

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If anyone’s in the area…

The Pet Show is at Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, next Saturday and Sunday (see http://www.thepetshow.co.uk/ for details). I’ll be there on the Saturday, in the Hutch & Run area with the lovely people from RattieAngels and Cosy Beds and Burrows, publicising the joys of pet rats. There’s a lot to see and do, whatever your preference of pet, and it will be a great day out.

My lovely but badly-behaved boys, Cosmo and Minty, will be there on the Saturday as well!

I’ll also have some information with me about the Heart of England Rat Club and our next show, on the 8th August in Peterborough. All the information will still be there on the Sunday, just without me ;-)

So if you’re there, come and find us and say hello!

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Biscay

I posted a couple of weeks ago and mentioned that Biscay had an abscess on his jaw which we were treating. It seemed to be going well, and by last weekend was much smaller, so we were hopeful that it was just an abscess and not a sign of something more sinister.

Unfortunately we were wrong. During Monday night and Tuesday he deteriorated and stopped even trying to eat or drink. The vet gave him subcutaneous fluids on Tuesday and we kept trying, but by Wednesday morning it was apparent that something was pushing his mouth out of whack – his tongue was being forced out of the right side of his mouth and he couldn’t lap anything.

So on Wednesday he made his final vet visit. He was a brave boy throughout the illness (despite the regular protesting squeaks when we were cleaning his abscess) and his ladies are missing him very much. As are we.

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What a month

Things have been… interesting since I last posted. So it’s time I brought you up to speed on developments. We had a holiday a month ago, and our friend S (who is a breeder and makes hammocks and lives not far from us) had all our ratties for the week. Amazingly all the old lumpy girls not only made it to their holibobs, but had a lovely time and are still going strong(ish), which has been unexpected.

Cosmo and Minty spent the week making friends with some other boys around the same age as them, but on returning home they decided they hated the sight of each other and began fighting. Really, properly fighting, not the squabbling they’d been doing before, and there were some nasty injuries. We have been trying to get them back together and failing miserably. So on Thursday I took them over to see S and we tried them with a couple of older boys. All seemed to go fairly well as far as Cosmo was concerned, he settled down with the older boys, but Minty seemed really terrified of them, screaming when anyone went near him. Eventually he stopped screaming and started edging towards the group but would turn tail rather than try to join them.

Thinking that he would get the idea eventually, I brought all four home to see how it would go. Unfortunately the answer was “not well” as one of the older boys decided to establish himself as alpha, which meant giving Minty a hard time, and then turning on Cosmo as well. It culminated in Minty and Cosmo having another fight, a nasty injury to Cosmo and a great deal of blood. Again.

So we are back to square one, and I will be taking all four back to S this afternoon. She will keep Cosmo and Minty for a week or so and see if she can settle them down again. It’s difficult for us because we have so much less experience with boys – girls are relatively easy to intro, we’ve had one or two tricky ones but mostly they are fine. I know many people are the same with introing boys but we don’t really have that level of confidence so it’s best done by someone who does. I’m going to miss their cheeky little faces, though. Let’s hope they’re soon back here and behaving themselves.

In other news, last Monday evening we realised Biscay had a lump on his jaw. The vet booked him in to have it checked under sedation (on Wednesday – so I was ferrying rats around in a baking hot car on the hottest day of the year so far. Great planning) and it proved to be an abscess. The issue with abscesses in that location is that they can be symptoms of a Zymbals gland tumour which is particularly unpleasant. We’ve never had to deal with one but I know many people who have. The vet didn’t find any other indication of anything sinister, though, so we are continuing to treat it as an isolated abscess. He has antibiotics and anti-inflammatories, and we have been bathing it with warm salt water and (yucky stuff coming up!) squeezing it out as necessary. He’s about as co-operative as you’d expect, but does seem to be brighter and in less pain with each day that passes so we must be getting something right.

His lady friend Boots is now the only one of our oldies not to have some health issues – Sam, Susan and Sirocco all have lumps, Scarecrow and Ragweed both have respiratory problems from time to time, and Misty had an ear infection recently that has left her with a head tilt. Sam and Susan are also starting to have trouble with their back legs. But they all soldier on and no-one seems inclined to peg out just yet.

Here’s hoping that we get everyone settled and sorted very soon – it’s the Heart of England Rat Club anniversary show on the 8th August and it’d be nice to have someone to show again!

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