Every other time

Our show career could be kindly described as chequered. It seems that every other time we show rats, we come home with rosettes. Odd-numbered shows are best – like even-numbered Star Trek films…

Yesterday was the sixth time we’d shown rats and to be fair it was a bit of a last-minute thing. I entered two does in Pets, thinking I’d make a decision based on who was best behaved (or least scabby) yesterday morning. I’d pretty much decided to give Snufkin a chance as the other Moomins had done well last year, and was inclining towards Teacake as she’s a nosy, inquisitive and outgoing little soul. So we got Snufkin out of the cage, and I picked Teacake up and checked her over, and just as I thought she was going to be fine, I realised she had a huge scratch down the side of her face. It wasn’t bleeding and looked clean so it was a case of “not going to worry about that now, who’s next in line?” Nygma is getting to be quite a friendly girl so I took her, but really the best I was hoping for was that they wouldn’t disgrace me. At least I wasn’t disappointed! Snufkin came third in Adult Doe and that was it, but the main thing was that it was a nice day.

It was a busy show, lots of people I didn’t know but also lots I did – some I haven’t seen for a while – so much catching up was in order. There was also a charity auction on behalf of a breeder who has had to give up due to illness, so some of her cages, carriers etc were being sold to raise money for Myeloma UK, and I got a cat carrier of  type I’ve been thinking of getting for a while – handy for transporting bigger groups.

I neglected to take many photos but I did get this one (not my rats, by the way!) which shows what a hard life it is being a show rat.

hard life of a show rat

And when I got home I checked Teacake again, and she’s fine – the scratch has closed up and scabbed over and you’d hardly know it was there. It’ll be healed in no time. The next show I’m planning on going to is in August so I’ve already told her she’s doing that one.

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Playtime photos

At last this evening we managed to get some photos of the eight girls. They had some playtime – the first proper one since they started living together – and it all went well. In an ideal world about now I’d be opening up both levels of the cage so they could have the run of the whole thing but alas… Mrs Spacey is not very steady on her feet and the last thing I want is for her to have a fall in a tall cage and hurt herself further. They are fine in the top half, so things will stay as they are.

Next week is a show I’m hoping to attend and I might take a couple of girls to show in pets, just for a bit of fun. We’ll see. If I do, then it would probably be Teacake and Penguin. We have put a little blob of green food colouring on Nygma’s tail this evening so we can begin to tell her and Penguin apart – at least, that’s the idea.

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Teacake

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Little My and the Snork Maiden

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Teacake

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Snufkin

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Mrs Spacey

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Penguin. Or Nygma. Probably Penguin.

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Probably Nygma

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Snork Maiden and Little My

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Mrs Spacey

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Teacake. This girl is a proper poser!

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Nygma. Or Penguin. No idea really.

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Snufkin, Mrs Spacey and Dolores (Daughter of Kong)

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This might be Dolores or it might be Snufkin.

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Teacake again. Poser.

As you can see we are having a bit of trouble telling everyone apart at the moment! We’ll get there…

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New rats get names, at last

It’s been two weeks – a bit slow, for us, as we usually have a better idea from the outset. Intros have gone well, still a few slanging matches from time to time but no different from a normal established group.

I haven’t managed to get many photos yet but did get a couple of the two older new arrivals the other day. The photo session got a bit out of hand because There.Were.Rats.Everywhere. And I couldn’t keep track of who I’d photo’d and who I hadn’t. Ahem.

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“You called?” A dumbo biscuit, a top-eared biscuit and a Snork Maiden all try to get out of the carrier at the same time.

So our oldest girl is the Russian Burmese, Mrs Spacey. The other thing that derailed the photo session was discovering that her back legs are starting to go – she’s a bit young for full on hind leg degeneration but it can be triggered by kidney issues so it’s possible that’s the cause. Anyway, we’ll look after her and keep her fed and happy.

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Mrs Spacey

The next oldest are our original three, then there’s Daughter of Kong (who I’ve taken to referring to as Dolores).

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Daughter of Kong (aka Dolores)

So that leaves the chocolate biscuits. There’s been a lot of debate. We’d already thought of Tunnocks Teacake, so the top-eared girl is now Teacake. One of the dumbo girls is going to be Penguin. So because we’re both sci-fi geeks, and because this is how our minds work, the other dumbo girl will be Nygma (as in Edward, as in The Riddler).

Now we just have to figure out which is which.

 

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Comings and goings

So the day finally came when the WingDings went back to their breeder. I took them home today, and they have been welcomed back. We’d been thinking things would be quiet – almost empty-nest-ish – but then the breeder asked on Thursday if we would like some more who needed homes, and of course I couldn’t resist. So I took five rats over there today and came back with five different ones. All girls, and they’re now being introduced to our original three.

Three of the newbies were also fostered out due to the parvo outbreak but they’re about a month younger than the WingDings. They’re meant to be chocolate but have a rather odd colour which meant the breeder didn’t want to breed from them as she couldn’t rely on the colour coming true. They don’t have names yet but the lady who fostered them referred to them as the biscuits because their mother’s called Twix. Along with them we have a 12-month-old black dumbo called Daughter of Kong and a Russian Burmese called Mrs Spacey.

They’ve been in a small cage with our three Moomins for just over five hours now and there’s been a bit of squeaking, some pinning and sniffing and a couple of bouts of handbags but nothing overly worrying. They’ll stay in that cage for a couple of days then move to something bigger once they’re properly behaving themselves.

In tandem with this as we have an increase in numbers we decided this morning to move the rooms round again. So the rats move into the back bedroom (they were in there when we first moved here) and the spare bed goes in the box room (because we are more likely to have rats here than human visitors!). This gives us more space for cages and for all their paraphernalia. I’ll post pictures at some stage but there’s still some sorting out to do. No doubt there’ll be more pictures of the newbies as they settle in, too.

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A resting place

Coffee Girl has been laid to rest this afternoon. My first intention was to find a nice pot and put her in with a new plant I bought last week, but the pot I had was too small. So instead I used a salvia which I grew last year from a cutting, and which was already in a bigger pot, and put her in there. She’ll be fine.

She’s on the patio now, next to her friend Leggy McLegface with her Canary palm, which has emerged from the greenhouse to enjoy the spring sunshine.

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And just like that…

Coffee Girl has left us. After yesterday’s post I messaged her breeder to let her know about the decline and new symptoms (difficulty with food, head shaking, frantic face washing, phasing out as if in pain). As we chatted we came to the conclusion that poor Coffee was developing a pituitary tumour.

We’ve only really dealt with one definite pt, and that was a long time ago. A few suspected ones since then but they are so hard to diagnose, and usually by the time it’s obvious, it’s very advanced. Not that there’s anything you can do even if you catch it early. Some people have reported success with steroids (not an option when the rat already has heart trouble) or Galastop (but not in all cases, by any means). But Coffee Girl was already in pain, and nothing was going to make the tumour go away.

So we decided to give her all the strawberry complan and vanilla soya pudding she could eat last night, and take her to the vet today. Our vets are very good and they fitted us in at 9.30 this morning. So Coffee is now reunited with her friend Leggy McLegface, and not suffering any more, which is the important part.

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Visitors, and plans for the future

We had visitors over Easter, the boys belonging to a member of J’s team at work. They stayed with us at Christmas too, but sadly since then the eldest of the five has passed on so it was just the four black hoodies. They were a little more forthcoming this time, as much as anything because they were in a smaller and more accessible cage – last time I put them in the bottom of the Explorer but this time they went in the Furet. That meant rigging up a curtain from a bit of fleece between them and the WingDings who would otherwise have spent the entire two weeks wedged behind their wheel tormenting the poor lads.

sheryl's boys 25 mar (4)

This is Loki, definitely – he has the wider splodges on his back. The others are harder to identify till you look closely.

sheryl's boys 25 mar (2)sheryl's boys 25 mar (1)

Loki is probably the boss of the group, and is hilarious in his grumpy misanthropy. We would go in the room and find him sitting on a ledge giving us death glares, but if we approached the cage he would immediately run and hide. The other three all came out for a run but he refused to co-operate – though he did take a prawn cracker from me when I offered it.

They went home yesterday and were very pleased to see their mum again. No more noisy girls running in wheels at all hours, and they didn’t think much of the food (apart from the roast chicken they got on Easter Sunday).

The WingDings go back to their breeder in mid-May, which will leave us very quiet indeed. Coffee Girl continues to soldier on with her heart meds but seems to be finding dry food increasingly difficult, though she still makes some effort. But she has lost weight, so I’m hand-feeding her soft foods such as rusks dissolved in Complan, to provide extra nutrients and calories. However, this stage is never a very good sign. A lot depends on her determination to keep going, and her ability to do so. Sometimes it seems that she doesn’t register the presence of food unless you put it right under her nose, and even then she’s not always sure what to do with it.

So we have been thinking about the future again, and what happens next. I have already indicated to our friend S (the breeder of Lias & Drumknott) that if she has some suitable boys this year we would like some – three, if possible. As far as the girls are concerned, the Moomins are all just over 12 months old now and I want to add more girls to the group soon but not until Coffee Girl as passed as she gets very agitated easily now, and I don’t want to cause her stress.

It’ll soon be time to start thinking of new names…

 

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