It’s long past time for a “Past Rats” post – I wrote about Sigma and Tau in November 2012, if you can believe it.
Well, in the autumn of 2007 we were offered two rescues who were being fostered by friends of ours. The rats had originally come from a breeder but their owner could no longer keep them. On being told they were dumbos I said yes straight away – we had briefly fostered a dumbo boy but I was keen to have some dumbos of our own. These rescues were girls, a ruby-eyed Siamese and a black Berkshire rex. We named them Tallulah (after Ms Bankhead) and Zelda (F Scott Fitzgerald’s wife).
At the time we had Halo, Evey, Sigma, Tau and Lyra in the main cage. Tallulah and Zelda went in the spare cage for a while. A few weeks later Lyra left us and we started introing the new girls. It was immediately clear that Zel would be alpha just by force of personality. The position of second was fought over by Sigma and Tallulah, and to our surprise Sigma won. Tallulah sulked heavily for a while but seemed to settle.
They had been with us for a couple of months when, over Christmas, Tallulah became seriously ill. It was our first definite experience of a pituitary tumour and she went downhill rapidly. Now we would know the signs and would have some ideas how to make a rat comfortable but then we had no idea. Within a few days she had to be put to sleep. She had been a lovely girl, if a little touchy – she looked like a polar bear when she fluffed her fur up, but was always affectionate with us if not with the other rats.
Zelda remained a strong alpha who didn’t put up with any nonsense from anyone else, including us. She would refuse to come out of the cage at playtime if she didn’t feel like it – it was an aversion to being picked up as much as anything, as she would get into a little plastic box if she wanted to come out and we were permitted to pick that up, but if she didn’t get in the box, that was it – she wasn’t coming out, thank you. She defended new babies against bullying (of which more later) and remained determined and contrary to the very end. She had one illness – a lump which had to be removed. And she left us suddenly, without warning – we came home from work one day in December 2008 to find her forever asleep.
We seemed to have both of them for such a short time, and I struggled to find photographs for this blog. Tallulah in particular was with us for only two months. I found one of their intro sessions to the others in November 2007:
This one of Tallulah on Christmas Day 2007, just as she was becoming ill:
And a nice one of Zel having a treat;
They are still missed, even after all this time.