Hot or cold

We’ve had a funny week here, me and the ratties. A little eventful but not really in bad ways. Busy, with some annoying weather and minor injuries, plus a visit (for me, anyway) to friends.

The weather has been on the warm side, especially the earlier part of the week when we had temperatures just shy of 30 centigrade along with nasty humidity. So the rat room window has been open a lot, and the fan has been running on a timer. Thankfully the room faces east, so by the time the day is at its hottest the sun isn’t shining into the room anymore (though the blind is usually closed anyway) which makes it one of the cooler rooms in the house. I’ve also brought the granite blocks back into use, though we only seem to have two now (no idea what happened to the third, I can only assume it got lost during a house move). So the old boys got a water bottle about three quarters full and frozen, while the other two cages got granite blocks that had been in the freezer overnight. And I have lots of frozen fruit which they can have as ice lollies when the temperature soars.

The girls have finished their latest course of antibiotics, thankfully, as getting them to take the stuff was becoming frustrating. I have no idea whether either of them got the dose they were meant to have – the best I could do was get them to take some of it, then put the rest of it in the cage. It would eventually vanish, but whether they both ate it or one ate more than the other – your guess is a good as mine, frankly. Unlike the ABs they’ve had before, this was a powder to be mixed with water. Problem is, it doesn’t dissolve but is held in suspension – which means they know it’s there because of the texture, no matter how you try to deliver it. The vet suggested putting it in their water bottle, but there are three reasons why I don’t think this would work. Firstly, I think the powder in suspension would clog the nozzle. Secondly, they would be quite happy to use the other bottle or go thirsty rather than touch it if they think it tastes funny. Thirdly, even if they drink it, there is no way to ensure they get even close to the daily dose they’re meant to have.

So I went for the time-honoured food delivery system, and at least this way I know they got most of it. Over the 10 day course I tried vanilla soya pud (normally irresistible, but more of a struggle this time), pineapple yoghurt (almost total failure), cake (partial success), and jam, honey or lemon curd on bread previously soaked in the ABs. That worked, most of the time. For two animals that will normally eat everything you put in front of them, they suddenly developed some extremely picky eating habits. The only other one I tried, and which worked very well (so rather than overdoing it I’m keeping it in reserve for future necessity) was also the most faffy. It involved softening some yoghurt drops in the microwave and mixing the dose into the resulting paste. They did eat this with every indication of enthusiasm, so I hope it works again in the future.

The big boys are getting noticeably slower and lazier as they reach the two-year mark. Their health has been generally pretty good, though there’s likely to be a vet trip soon – they’re not sneezy, but have both had a bit of porphyrin around one eye in the last day or two, and Luther has an occasional runny nose. Mostly age-related, I expect, but if it happens again we’ll get them checked over. Arkwright caused me some alarm this week with a torn claw. I managed to trim it, and it’s now come off altogether anyway, but while it lasted he managed to get an awful lot of blood all over the cage.

The little boys continue to grow like weeds and poop for Britain. Hawkeye’s latest favouite game at playtime is to chase my hands – I run them up and down the bed and he will happily chase for ages. He’s also a lot keener on play-fighting and being tickled than Radar is. Radar stays a little further away from us, though he will get on our laps and tolerate a bit of scritching.

They have done a good job this weekend of doing themselves out of a hammock. The cage they’re in came with a blue nylon hammock, square with a patch of fleece in the middle and loops at each corner. Yesterday morning I found they had chewed through one strap; by this morning they had chewed right through a second and almost through a third. Today was cleaning day anyway, so I took it away, and it’ll get mended once it’s washed. I’ve never had two rats so good at getting poop everywhere. They seem quite happy with the concept of a litter tray, and use it the vast majority of the time, but then every so often decide to plaster it all around the cage. Mucky pups.

We tracked down some new fleece throws yesterday so the blankets etc we have been using to cover the bed for them to run round on can all go in the wash – this way, we have two spare sets. The little boys still have their ‘own’ set of blankets, cushions etc. In B&Q yesterday we found some kids’ fleece blankets in three different colours – pale grey, dark red and light blue. For some unfathomable reason, the light blue was £4.98 while the other two were £3.98, – no prizes for guessing what we bought. They were identical in every other way, so no idea why the blue costs more.

On Monday I went to visit some friends, Michele and Jem, who I hadn’t seen for a while. They breed lovely silver fawns and cinnamons amongst others, and our boy Quinch came from them. I got some lovely photos of some of their current residents, including Norman Wisdom (who has recently fathered a litter with Florence Nightingale). It was lovely to see them and catch up – we don’t get to see people much at the moment, as J is still away during the week and thus doesn’t want to do much at weekends. But he should be back for good in a couple of weeks, and that should make everything easier.

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