Two little black hoodies who joined us in April 2008. We thought that they would be good company for the tearaway Roxie but she hated them on first sight and there were several months of tensions in the group, at least partly because of her animosity to them.
They were, as it happened, fairly laid-back girls who got on fine with all the others and after their initial wariness of Roxie they came to realise that the others would not let her hurt them, and grew in confidence quite rapidly.
(Their names came from the pages of 2000AD, specifically from the Nemesis the Warlock series, for those of you who meed to know such things!)
By May 2009 they had been with us for just over a year, and employment needs moved us to another part of the country. We moved with five rats – our first boys, D.R. and Quinch, and the three remaining girls, Magna, Chira and their erstwhile enemy, Roxie.
Grown-ups now, and much happier in a smaller group, the three were quite contented together. Then in the July Roxie died, leaving just the two sisters. Shortly after that Chira started to show signs of respiratory infection and though we did what we could she died in early December, a month short of her second birthday. Magna became quite dependant on us, and though I was keen to find ratty company for her this took longer than anticipated – a local rescue had a girl who had been kept alone but she needed a good deal of treatment for mites and it was a month before she could come to us.
But eventually she arrived and we named her Domino and introduced the two to each other. After a few days of tension and Mexican standoffs over food bowls, they seemed to decide that life was better if they were friends and after that they were pretty much inseparable.
May 2010 saw us on the move again but by now Magna was starting to show her age. We weren’t too sure of Domino’s age but thought she was about a year younger than Magna. Magna had respiratory issues and hind leg degeneration, and meanwhile Domino had gone blind, so they were quite a pair. I kept getting the impression that Magna was forcing herself to keep going because she didn’t want to leave Domino alone, so to avoid a gap while we tried to find cagemates I put out an appeal on a rat forum and was immediately offered two younger girls by a local breeder. We went and collected them, put all four together in a new cage, and they all got on just fine. And Magna died the next day. So I remain convinced that she didn’t want to leave her friend, and held on until she knew Domino wasn’t going to be alone.
Sometimes Magna and Chira feel like afterthought rats, fitting in between others who were bigger personalities and left bigger memories behind. But the period when we had them was one of upheaval and change in our lives for a number of reasons (we changed jobs several times, moved around the country twice, and there were family bereavements) so when I think of those times there are other concerns crowding out the rat stuff. This does them an injustice – they were lovely girls, despite their unpromising start in life (as I recall, an accidental litter due to pet shop mis-sexing, rescued from being dumped by a friend of mine). They also had to compete for attention with our first boys, which would be hard on anyone.