A gentle decline; and some stranger symptoms

It’s been a quiet few weeks on the whole, since I posted those pictures of the ratties enjoying their Christmas. Arkwright is still with us, just about, and the young boys have given us some slightly worrying days, but nothing too drastic.

Arkers lasted about 10 days with the girls before we moved him to the Mary to be by himself. He had gone into a rather sudden decline – partly, I suspect, because of having to compete for food and losing against the much quicker girls. So he has now been by himself for about 10 or 11 days. He has towels and bits of fleece instead of shredded paper, and we remove them daily as he is barely mobile now and just wees where he is lying, so everything ends up wet (including him). He comes out for baths, which he hates, but afterwards he gets to snuggle in a big soft towel and eat yoggies, which he loves. He still has playtimes with the girls, and they usually give him a bit of a wash – not sure how much he likes that. He’s having soft foods – porridge, baby food, anything that can be mushed up – but the food he likes best? Grapes (as long as I split them in half for him). Every day, every time I go to check on him, I expect it all to be over – and every time, I lift up the blanket he’s lying under, and he looks up at me, and he’s still with us. So his sudden decline became a more gentle one, and I’m not sorry. I don’t think he wants to go yet. Not while there are still grapes.

The girls are much as ever – over 18 months old and showing no signs of slowing down. Filling out, yes, I’m afraid. But still as mad and as affectionate as they have always been.

The young boys continue to keep us on our toes. Just after Christmas I was worried that they were getting sniffly. When I got them to the vet, Hawkeye had started being very vocal about something but we weren’t sure what – he would suddenly let out a squeak or a squeal, for no apparent reason. It was the sort of “Leave me alone, I don’t want you to wash me” noise but he would do it when no-one was touching him. We started him on antibiotics for the sniffles, but the squeaking continued. Then one evening at playtime I saw him, as he squeaked, give a sudden twitch and start scratching furiously – mites! He had a spot-on treatment 6 days ago and all has been quiet since. So it seems that he’s just going to be a complainer if he gets itchy, which is quite handy actually as we’ll never be in doubt about whether he needs a treatment.

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