News from the ratcave

It’s been a fairly quiet week here, on the whole, with an air of settling into a routine which addresses the needs of three different pairs of rats.

The big boys are generally the least demanding, especially as Arkwright has now realised he doesn’t need to keep sitting by the cage door looking pleadingly at me to get attention. For the first couple of days after the new boys arrived, he would do this – sit by the door, gazing at me – sometimes with one hand on the door for effect – as though saying “You don’t love me anymore” in a trembling voice. Luther seems completely unmoved by the new boys, but has been much better in the last couple of weeks about coming out for a run so on some level has perhaps realised he needs to get his act together. They are almost two now, which I am constantly amazed by as they are in such good health – a little on the tubby side, but hey, I’m no Twiggy myself. They get their exercise and they eat well so I’m not worried.

The girls have been a bit more of a concern this week, mainly Cora as she started to get very sneezy on Thursday evening. I had a day off on Friday and took her to see the vet, which was entertaining. In the waiting room was a lady with a baby Gambian pouched rat – they are gorgeous, and this boy was already nearly the size of my full-grown boys at 7 weeks old. But it’s not permitted to import any from Africa anymore, only to breed from the ones already here, which means the gene pool is limited. This boy had 3 siblings, one of which has already been put to sleep because of genetic problems. Call me old-fashioned, but I have reservations about breeding when you don’t really have enough animals for a viable gene pool.

Anyway, we saw the vet eventually – not one of the ones we usually see, however. He was nice enough but I got the impression he didn’t really grasp what I was saying, which was “She’s sneezing, producing a little mucus but no porphyrin from the eyes, and it sounds upper resp tract to me rather than from the chest.” All of which I told him, only for him to run through asking me all again in a slightly different order. He did listen to her chest and weigh her, which was fine. At one point he asked me how I give Baytril to them, did I just syringe it into the rat’s mouth? So I said I mix it in a blob of soya pud, as it’s easier that way. And he then went on to tell me to give it straight from the syringe. I know everyone has their own methods, but I’ve tried straight from the syringe and it never works.

(Actually, it worked once, with Fred. I put the syringe through the cage bars and she bit it, so I pressed the plunger before she had time to let go. She looked very shocked, and clearly that was only going to work the once.)

Still, she has her Baytril now and is reacquainting herself with soya pud, and after just 2 days she’s sounding a lot better. I just wish we could cure the pair of them of the urge to redistribute the entire contents of their litter tray around the cage.

The little boys seem to be doing fine and settling in well. When they come out for a run they are mad and pingy – Radar a little less so than Hawkeye, but he’s gaining confidence daily. They are quick to emerge and climb to the top of the cage when you go in the room – Hawkeye already knows that the top of the cage opens, and waits for it to be opened so he can climb out. Their runs are very much about excited kids exploring, they don’t sit still for a second but scamper about all over the place (including all over us) checking everything out. They eat everything we put in front of them, which as they have so much energy is just as well.

So hopefully I’ll have another photo session before the week is out, but for now that’s all the news from here.


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