The young girls are definitely growing up, even if they’re not getting any more grown up in their behaviour. They are still mad and pingy, and bounce around all over the place both in the cage and when they’re out for playtime. Their names haven’t really stuck in the right way – I don’t think of them as Samhain and Saturnalia, mostly I think of them as Thing 1 and Thing 2. But they do have nicknames, so we use those more often; Saturnalia is Susan, after a character in Watson and Oliver’s sketch show, and Samhain is Sam because that actually makes sense.
The old grumpies are still old and grumpy. Pinch is much better and her op scar and abscess have healed beautifully. You wouldn’t know there had ever been anything wrong. She and Bitesize are a bit sneezy, but they are always a bit sneezy and I try not to worry unless there are other problems. Hawkeye has managed to hurt one of his back feet twice in the last month, probably on the open ladder between the floor and the half-shelf in their half of the cage. This has led to some discussions about the future distribution of rats relative to cages, especially in light of the fact that we may be acquiring two or three rescue girls imminently.
At first we thought that the way to go was to set up the Furet cage, which is currently flatpacked, and put the oldies in it, then the new girls would go in the lower bit of the Explorer while we intro them to S & S. Once intro’d, the Explorer would then be opened up and we could start building up our group of girls of various ages. Then the other evening we had a change of plan. New arrivals will go (very temporarily) in the Mary then in the Explorer once intro’d; in the meantime we have started introing S & S to the grumpies. I kind of didn’t want to do this as the grumps are a good group and have bonded well, but I think that the Explorer is big enough for everyone to have their own space, so we are going for it.
The other reason for thinking about putting the grumps in the Furet was that the ladder in the Furet is more of a ridged plastic ramp, and would be easier to use. But if they were staying in the Explorer, we needed another solution for the ladder. So I spent this morning rigging up a cover from an old denim-backed fleecy open hammock, which just fits over the ladder and is fastened at the back with poppers. The idea is that it will support anyone climbing up the ladder and provide something to grip, rather than them putting their feet between the rungs and risking twists or breaks.
So after cage cleaning this afternoon, we got all five out together to see what happened. Not for very long, just long enough for them to meet, sniff and stop short of getting annoyed by each other. There was no argy-bargy of any kind, which was a relief, so from now on playtimes will be shared.
On going back to the cage, Hawkeye immediately checked out the modified ladder, went straight up it (carefully) then came very gingerly back down. We’ll see how that goes.