On our Memory Lane trip we’ve reached the point where we first had boys. These two probably made about the biggest impression on us, even though we only had them for just over a year and they both died young.
They weren’t brothers – D.R. was from Symphony Rats and Quinch from Comis Rats – but they were together from about seven or eight weeks old and bonded very easily. The names are from the Alan Moore comic written for 2000AD and just seemed to suit them ridiculously well – D.R. (Diminished Responsibility) was a cheeky little troublemaker and Quinch was definite sidekick material.
When they first arrived they were tiny and a bit shy, but that didn’t last long.
D.R. was always fairly relaxed about being handled:
Quinch could be a bit less co-operative:
But they were lovely lads with bags of character. During playtime, D.R. would be the active one, running around exploring and wanting to play with you, while Quinch as often as not could be found under a cushion, bruxing happily. At one point we realised D.R. had invented a new game and completely suckered me into playing it. They would be on our bed, and I’d be lying on my side with my head propped on one hand. He started running the length of the bed and jumping through the gap created by my head, neck and arm. The first few times it was pretty straightforward, he’d just run up as fast as he could, but then he started to vary it. He’d try to sneak up on me, using the cushions as hiding places. Or he’d sit next to me looking casual, then suddenly run for the gap. If he was trying to hide he’d always give his position away, because he’d be so excited he’d be bruxing loudly. Of course I had to pretend not to be watching him, or he wouldn’t play at all.
For all his swagger and his attempts to boss us around, D.R. was a sensitive little soul really. Once I gave him a good telling off for chewing the cage bars, and he sulked and refused to come near me for two days. But he got over it and was soon back to his normal cheeky self.
He became ill about a year after we’d got them and despite initially rallying, he eventually succumbed to internal tumours. While he was ill, I saw a truly lovely example of rat altruism from Quinch. D.R. was in some pain and had been given a steroid injection to help with it, but it hadn’t started to work yet. I’d put him in the cage and he’d crawled about half-way into their little house then flaked out. I filled the food bowl up – Quinch’s favourite time of day, that boy could eat for Britain – and Quinch went straight over, picked out some of his favourite bits of the mix, then put them carefully next to D.R. before going back to get something for himself. It was almost like he was saying “I know you feel rough now, but you’ll be hungry when you wake up so I saved something for you.”
Losing D.R. was rough for us but much harder on Quinch. Before the tumours started we had acquired two rescue boys, Luther and Arkwright, and started trying to intro them to the big lads. All that stopped when D.R. became ill, but after his death we tried again so Quinch didn’t have to be alone. Bless him, he was very tolerant of them but he didn’t want to know. Soon he became ill and we realised he had congestive heart failure; he died about a month after D.R.
Our next boys would be much more of a handful, but despite their short lives D.R. and Quinch were about as good as rats get in terms of personality and temperament. I still miss them, even after all this time.