Today was cage cleaning day. When the rats go back to their nice clean cages, I like to give them a little treat to make up for clearing away the lovely smelly detritus of their lives which they seem to enjoy using to make nests.
It happened that this week I had three empty egg boxes, one for each cage. I had been saving them until there was one each, so that all of them could have an egg box treat. This is basically a very simple way of getting them to work a little harder for their treats, but it also makes the process more interesting for them than just being handed something at the cage door.
It comprises an egg box and a variety of tasty things. A few morsels in each cell of the egg box, close the lid, and away you go. This time they got pumpkin seeds, dried banana chips, yoghurt drops, some multi-coloured crunchy stick things that I’m pretty sure can’t be good for them, and a couple of Treat-Ums. The girls and the older boys love Treat-Ums but the young boys are still pretty unmoved by any kind of treat. The good thing about both the yog drops and the Treat-Ums is that they have a strong scent which leads the rats to start investigating the box in the first place. The only other treat to have such a strong pull (that I’ve tried, anyway) is locust bean which for some reason they find irresistible – I think it smells disgusting, but then I’m not a rat.
As expected, the old boys went straight to the box and were pretty quick to knock it over and spring the lid. Arkwright was soon munching on a Treat-Um while Luther went for some banana. The girls weren’t far behind and the contents of their box were soon spread around the cage. The young boys were intrigued and could clearly smell the tasty food but couldn’t work out what to do. The usual first timer response is to chew a hole, and they got there in the end. After weeing on the box, of course. They wee on everything.
Poor Arkwright has an operation booked for Thursday to have his lump looked at. Here’s hoping whatever it is, it’s not malignant. The antibiotics haven’t made any difference as far as I can tell, which suggests it’s not an abscess. Fingers crossed, eh?