Things have been… interesting since I last posted. So it’s time I brought you up to speed on developments. We had a holiday a month ago, and our friend S (who is a breeder and makes hammocks and lives not far from us) had all our ratties for the week. Amazingly all the old lumpy girls not only made it to their holibobs, but had a lovely time and are still going strong(ish), which has been unexpected.
Cosmo and Minty spent the week making friends with some other boys around the same age as them, but on returning home they decided they hated the sight of each other and began fighting. Really, properly fighting, not the squabbling they’d been doing before, and there were some nasty injuries. We have been trying to get them back together and failing miserably. So on Thursday I took them over to see S and we tried them with a couple of older boys. All seemed to go fairly well as far as Cosmo was concerned, he settled down with the older boys, but Minty seemed really terrified of them, screaming when anyone went near him. Eventually he stopped screaming and started edging towards the group but would turn tail rather than try to join them.
Thinking that he would get the idea eventually, I brought all four home to see how it would go. Unfortunately the answer was “not well” as one of the older boys decided to establish himself as alpha, which meant giving Minty a hard time, and then turning on Cosmo as well. It culminated in Minty and Cosmo having another fight, a nasty injury to Cosmo and a great deal of blood. Again.
So we are back to square one, and I will be taking all four back to S this afternoon. She will keep Cosmo and Minty for a week or so and see if she can settle them down again. It’s difficult for us because we have so much less experience with boys – girls are relatively easy to intro, we’ve had one or two tricky ones but mostly they are fine. I know many people are the same with introing boys but we don’t really have that level of confidence so it’s best done by someone who does. I’m going to miss their cheeky little faces, though. Let’s hope they’re soon back here and behaving themselves.
In other news, last Monday evening we realised Biscay had a lump on his jaw. The vet booked him in to have it checked under sedation (on Wednesday – so I was ferrying rats around in a baking hot car on the hottest day of the year so far. Great planning) and it proved to be an abscess. The issue with abscesses in that location is that they can be symptoms of a Zymbals gland tumour which is particularly unpleasant. We’ve never had to deal with one but I know many people who have. The vet didn’t find any other indication of anything sinister, though, so we are continuing to treat it as an isolated abscess. He has antibiotics and anti-inflammatories, and we have been bathing it with warm salt water and (yucky stuff coming up!) squeezing it out as necessary. He’s about as co-operative as you’d expect, but does seem to be brighter and in less pain with each day that passes so we must be getting something right.
His lady friend Boots is now the only one of our oldies not to have some health issues – Sam, Susan and Sirocco all have lumps, Scarecrow and Ragweed both have respiratory problems from time to time, and Misty had an ear infection recently that has left her with a head tilt. Sam and Susan are also starting to have trouble with their back legs. But they all soldier on and no-one seems inclined to peg out just yet.
Here’s hoping that we get everyone settled and sorted very soon – it’s the Heart of England Rat Club anniversary show on the 8th August and it’d be nice to have someone to show again!