Past rats: Luther and Arkwright

Ah, Luther and Arkwright. What a pair they were. Rescue boys, probably not siblings as the rescue had combined two litters of similar age at the point when the bucks needed to be separated from Mum. Luther was a very pale champagne hooded and Arkwright was a black Berkshire. We took them on with the intention of introing them to D.R. and Quinch, but D.R. really didn’t like them – and as we soon found out, he wasn’t at all well. After he died we did carry on trying to intro to Quinch but he wasn’t interested.

Part of the problem was that Luther was basically a hissing, spitting, furry ball of hatred for quite a lot of his life. Though as J said at the time, “He’s our hissing, spitting, furry ball of hatred and we love him.” He didn’t like people much, and was almost impossible to pick up, though he rarely bit anyone. He didn’t mind interacting with us once he was out of the cage, but was never exactly playful or affectionate. Arkwright always seemed to want to be more cuddly and friendly but as they got older he seemed to become afraid of Luther.

 

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arkwright

luther

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They were ok to begin with but as they approached 12 months old the fights got worse, and eventually we decided to have them both neutered. It was pretty much the best thing we could have done for them. Luther never became a soppy boy but he did seem much happier, and Arkwright settled down really well afterwards.

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Arkwright always did do a lot of peering out from under cushions…

The only issues after the neuter were that Luther got abscesses on the operation site, and had to keep going back to the vet (but he was surprisingly co-operative about it) and he got an enormous scab on his back which took a lot of fur with it when it came off. We think that was a particularly bad Baytril burn – the standard antibiotic can cause scabs if it’s injected, but usually it’s pretty small and just round the injection site.

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You can just see the discolouration and the slightly raised area of fur on his back in this one.

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23 nov 10 luther & arkwright

But the two of them were much more contented together after the surgery and that was the main thing. Luther made it to 30 months old, and left us just before Christmas 2011 after developing hind leg degeneration. He hadn’t been very bad with it though and his death was a bit of a surprise.

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The last photo I have of Luther, two months before he died. I don’t think he was really that fat, it’s just how he was sitting.

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Not wanting Arkwright to be on his own, we introduced him to our two girls, Cora and Clarice (we did have more boys too, by then, but I thought boys would stress him out more). He got on ok with them but before long he developed HLD as well and had to be moved into a single level cage. He came out every evening for bathing as he could no longer wash himself, and then he got to snuggle in a soft warm towel and eat yoggies, which he loved. He left us just over a month after Luther.

The last photos of Arkwright were taken on Christmas Day 2011:

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I think they were happy. I hope so, anyway.

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Not quite a trophy cabinet

When you win a few rosettes, you want to be able to show them off nicely, don’t you? (Just me? Ok, then.) Our first ever rosette was returned to the club when they needed a spare for that particular category but the five we have won since then now have a new home on a cork board, along with some of our prize cards (there are lots of those, and the ones on show will probably change every so often).

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Excuse the slightly odd lighting, this was taken in our living room with curtains closed against the sun.

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Showing off

We had a little show success today! It was an NFRS pets show, so I thought I’d take Little My and the Snork Maiden as they’re lovely friendly girls. It was good to know that the judge agreed – she said they were just the kind of girls she likes.

In their show tanks:

 

little my in show tank

Mum? What am I doing in here?

snork maiden in show tank

What did I do to deserve this?

 

Little My came first in Adult Owned Doe and Adult Owned Pet, and the Snork Maiden came second, and the crowning achievement was that Little My won Best Pet and the Snork Maiden got Reserve Best Pet. They mostly coped well but by the time the judging was finished and I collected them they were getting very tired, and they were glad to go in the carrier and have a nap. They slept most of the journey home.

I took a few photos once they’d had chance to recover a bit.

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Little My

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The Snork Maiden

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Both together, very pleased with themselves

Clever girls, eh?

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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:

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