This is not something you want happening on a Monday morning. Before I go any further, let me reassure you that everyone is fine. In fact, you’d hardly know anything had happened.
When I get up in the morning (usually some time after J, as he has to get up at stupid o’clock) I check in on the ratties before having my breakfast and generally getting ready to go to work. Then I check them again before I go out, in case food bowls or water bottles are empty. This morning I was topping up food bowls and chattering to the kids as I did so, when I heard a distressed squeaking from the little girls’ hammock. It was an L-shaped tube hammock so I couldn’t see into it easily, but after a moment Boots looked out at me. The squeak came again – it wasn’t Boots, and it wasn’t because of anything Boots was doing. But just behind her I could see Misty’s face – her eyes streaming and ringed with porphyrin, the red colour that makes runny eyes and noses so scary in rats.
I realised she must be trapped somehow, so I supported the hammock with one hand, unhooked it with the other and got it out of the cage and onto a flat surface. Boots was still in there so I got her out and put her back in the cage. Carefully I opened the hammock – provoking a louder shriek from Misty – and it became obvious that she had got her head stuck in a hole in the fleece lining. As I’d moved the hammock to open it, the fleece must have felt as though it was tightening around her neck. The poor thing couldn’t move at all. All she could do was sit there and cry.
I fetched the sharpest scissors in the house and started to try and cut her free, with her squealing every time she felt the hammock move. After what felt like ages but was probably less than a minute, I had enough of the upper half open to see how she was trapped. She had got between the outer fabric and the fleece liner, and because the hammock was quilted her body was wedged in a pocket in the quilting. She must have been trying to get through into the inside but had underestimated how big the hole needed to be.
I managed to cut the fleece next to her body so hopefully she could feel it starting to loosen around her. The last few strands around her neck seemed to be the hardest to cut as by then she was trying to struggle. I got her out and checked for obvious injury, but there was nothing – just the porphyrin, and of course she had peed and pooped while trapped so was a bit of a mess. I got the worst off and popped her back with her sisters, and she started cleaning herself up straight away.
Once I’d made sure she was behaving normally I put a clean hammock in the cage and went (slightly later than usual) to work. This evening she is absolutely fine, tucking in to brown rice and vegetables without a care in the world. She’s probably forgotten it already.
It’s the first time we’ve had this sort of incident, and I’m in no hurry to experience it again.