Category Archives: Rats

Happy 1st birthday my boys!

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On Friday our beautiful boys turned one year old. Hard to believe they’ve gone from tiny, hairless bubs to fat, fluffy adult rats so quickly. To celebrate I decided to act like the crazy rat lady I am and throw them a little party!

Curious? Read more…

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World Rat Day 2014

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From me and my four furries, Happy World Rat Day everyone! 😀

Happy World Rat Day!

Happy World Rat Day!

To celebrate the joy of owning rats, I’ll be treating Moon, Knight, Mishka and Vodka to some salmon today. That’s always fun 🙂

I also want to take a moment to say that you’ll probably be hearing less from me for a while, or at least between now and the end of May. Ninja and I are in the process of moving house, and as everyone who’s done it knows – it’s chaos!

If I do get a chance to shoot off some quick posts I will, but otherwise please bear with me as I make this transition. I’m sure once it’s all behind us and we’ve settled in, I’ll have plenty new stories and pictures to share. Besides, many of the goals I’ve set for myself can only really come alive once we’re in our new home, so that should kick off an exciting new season for us!

Until then, keep well and keep smiling 🙂

Zest

Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.

~ Anthony J. D’Angelo ~

The morning huddle

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Rats eating

This is how I start every day: with a view of four furry backsides radiating happiness around the breakfast platter.

Before I’ve rubbed the sleep from my eyes, usually before I’ve greeted my still-dozing Ninja, and long before I’ve started cooking my own breakfast, I – dutiful rat-slave that I am – obey the following silent-but-deafening hints:

Mishka

Mishka’s tactic: manipulative cuteness

Knight

Knight’s tactic: polite expectation

Vodka

Vodka’s tactic: a pointed stare

Moon

Moon’s tactic: Moonbuggy in overdrive!

So I blow them a sleepy kiss and slop off to the kitchen to mix up baby porridge with their flavour of the day. The flavour may be Ensure (a healthy meal-replacement powder), a dash of cinnamon, a tiny sprinkling of cocoa powder, a squeeze of honey or if they’re really lucky, a spoon of coconut milk.

Then I make the ‘click’ sound for my little Pavlov’s ratties and they leap into action, arranging themselves around the plate with their backs to me: ‘Thanks Mom, we’ll take it from here.”

Sigh 😀

Polyarthritis in rats (or so we suspect)

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If you’ve been following this blog for a while you’ll know that in January my one male rat Vodka suddenly seemed to have broken his right front paw. With some TLC and time it healed suprisingly well. Then, to my dismay, his left front paw started showing the same symptoms.

No sooner had Voddy healed from that (which I thought was just really bad luck and maybe just a sprain), than his right back foot suddenly flared up too! It was far more pronounced than with the other feet and I managed to get a few pics of it (to prove I’m not making this up, lol!)

When swelling started

When swelling started

Poor Voddy :(

Poor Voddy 😦

Limping away

Limping away

The next day: very bad swelling and pain

When it happened this third time I got the poor boy to the vet asap, as I’d realised that I might have been wrong about that ‘broken’ paw the first time. Three times on three different feet was just too weird…

At first, after some initial research, I thought it might be cardiomyopathy or another heart problem, which can sometimes manifest as recurring swelling on the limbs. That worried me! Heart problems in such a young buck? 😦

When the vet checked out the foot, however, he said it was too strange to only have signs of heart issues in one paw at a time. Also, he listened to Voddy’s heart and took an X-ray, both of which told him that Vodka’s heart is perfectly normal (praise God!).

But the X-rays did give the vet another clue: Voddy seems to have signs of arthritis in his swollen paw. The vet mentioned that dogs and cats can get a condition called polyarthritis, which often shows up in random joints and then disappears after a while. The vet didn’t know that it could happen to ratties too, but said that’s the most likely problem here.

Armed with a cocktail of Prednisone and Baytril to give to Voddy once daily, I left the vet’s feeling much better. Of course such strong meds are not a long-term solution, so I’ll have to research some dietary and other changes I could make to help a young rat with arthritis. But I’m hoping the initial treatment will reduce the pain and swelling on that poor precious pink paw!

One thing that really made me smile through all this was how Moon, Vodka’s best friend, made sure he was as close as possible to Voddy’s hospital cage so he could watch over him:

Company for a friend in need

Company for a friend in need

Can you see why these little animals have taken over my heart so completely? 🙂

Mishka’s mad method

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When we treated our boys to leftover prawns, I got a few shots of Mishka’s mad method of eating the seafood without holding it in his hands:

Step 1: Grab a prawn

Step 1: Grab a prawn

Step 2: Taste the yummyness without touching it

Step 3: Chase the prawn across the cage (because you refuse to dirty your paws)

Step 3: Chase the prawn across the cage (because you refuse to dirty your paws)

Step 4: Somehow, use this method to slowly, carefully clean the shells

Step 4: Somehow, use this method to slowly, carefully clean the shells

Step 5: Sneak up to the bowl...

Step 5: Sneak up to the bowl…

Step 6: ... and bounce off with another piece (while managing to look like an utterly adorable clown!)

Step 6: … and bounce off with another piece (while managing to look like an utterly adorable clown!)

Step 7: Start the hands-free licking process as before

Step 7: Start the hands-free licking process as before

Hehehe. Ah man this rat melts my heart! 🙂

Prawn fest

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Our rats are on a see-food diet: if they see food, they eat it! On occasion, that diet includes actual seafood too 🙂

I’ve mentioned before how much they enjoy salmon, and the other day we treated them to something even more decadent: prawns! Or, to be more accurate, the leftovers of Ninja’s prawn dinner. We washed off most of the lemon butter sauce, but Ninja left a little meat in the shells for the boys.

We started by waving the bowl of prawns in front of the cage to tantalise our pets (who looked ready to leap into the bowl!):

Prawn fest 2

*drool*

Of course they each grabbed a piece as soon as they could…

Voddy makes off with a prawn

Voddy makes off with a prawn

… and scurried off to their separate corners to chow down 🙂

Knight eats neatly - a true little gentleman

Knight eats neatly – a true little gentleman

Mishka licks his prawns rather than holding them

Mishka licks his prawns rather than holding them

Moon tucks in while the poor prawn stares at me accusingly

Moon tucks in while the poor prawn stares at me accusingly

Vodka looks guilty as he helps himself to seconds

It was an absolute feast, and so quiet in the cage except for the sounds of contented nibbling. Afterwards I collected a handful of squeaky-clean, transparent shells.

Here are the before and after shots:

Before

Before

After

After

You know, if you’d told me a few years ago that I would one day be happy to wash a pile of cold, half-eaten prawns and feed them to a mischief of ravenous rats, I would have thought you mad.

Now you can be the ones to think me mad, how’s that?! 🙂

I’d like my Vodka straight(ened out)!

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You probably won’t believe this. I barely do myself.

But just when I thought Vodka’s right paw had healed beautifully from last week, we noticed last night that he’s now limping with the left paw held up!

Voddy with his right paw injured

Voddy with his right paw injured

At first I thought Ninja was playing a prank when he told me. Then, when the paw didn’t look swollen or sore this morning before work, I even thought Vodka might just be asking for some attention. But now that the left paw is all swollen and purple just like his right one was last week, I’m just… baffled.

I have no idea how this happened, or what it is, or why it would happen twice in a row. It doesn’t seem to be bumblefoot (a painful sore rats can get on their feet when kept in the wrong cages). It just seems to be the way my life is going this year so far. Sigh.

So the little guy is back in the hospital cage under observation, and I’m back on love-him-back-to-health duty with extra treats and healing meals 😉

In other words: if you don’t hear terribly much from me for a while, at least you know why!

What do you mean, ‘as shy as a mouse’?

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Are mice really shy? I used to think so… until I saw this little guy!

These are a few pics my dad snapped of a teeny striped fieldmouse that’s taken up residence in my parents’ garden. The pics were taken in the middle of the day, a few metres from the house.

Mouse 1

Mouse 2

Mouse 4

Mouse 3

He doesn’t seem shy at all! Every day, my parents report, this cute mouse races around their garden in broad daylight, following a set path next to the boundary walls and through the shrubbery.

My folks very sweetly leave tasty tidbits along his route, and they own no prowling pets that might discover the little interloper. No wonder he’s quite happy to call that yard his own 🙂

When he passes by my mom and dad as they walk and work on the property, they call out and talk to him. As you can see from the pics, he doesn’t seem to mind their presence. It’s adorable!

I love his smart stripes, just like some tiny rodent version of a jock’s Ford ST. I think he has a cuter face than a rat’s, and of course he’s way smaller – if you look at the long paving brick he’s sitting on, our smallest rat (Moon) would take up that entire brick with just his body length, never mind his tail.

So although when we move there this cutey will be our new neighbour, we’ll make sure he never gets to meet our rat pack 😛

These things happen in threes…

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Sorry I’ve been so quiet, friends.

Each week of this new year has brought a new distressing event in our lives. I’ve already mentioned the retrenchment we’re facing; then add to that some upsetting family news over the past few days and now my poor Vodka ratty has a broken paw 😦

Sigh… they do say these things happen in threes 😦 (Though I far prefer the German version: ‘aller guten Dinge sind drei‘!)

Voddy before his injury

Voddy before his injury

Anyway, the accident must have happened sometime during his free run last night… Vodka did seem uncharacteristically skittish afterwards, and just before bed I noticed he was holding up his right front paw. At that stage it wasn’t swollen or discoloured, and he still let me touch it gently without squeaking.

But this morning the poor little pink foot had developed purple stripes over the toes and was clearly swollen. He couldn’t put any weight on it and held it very close to his body, walking with a pronounced limp. Turns out it’s a simple closed fracture on his little leg. My poor bub!

After doing some internet research and chatting to the vet, I’ve now isolated him in a cage without levels, switched his meals to easy-to-eat-with-one-paw foods and given him a tiny drop of the painkiller and anti-inflammatory, Metacam. I’m making sure he stays hydrated, too: squeezing fresh grape juice and mixing it with honey or vitamins before feeding it to him with a syringe.

We’re going to keep an eye on him over the next few days, but from all I’ve read online there’s not much more we can do – or even need to do. Thankfully ratties usually heal fairly quickly, and we’re boosting his diet with extra protein, carbs and vitamins to help him recover. I did put his best friend Moon in the cage with him, but Moony was not impressed with having to play nurse! So for now Voddy’s alone and it’s more peaceful that way.

It’s ironic that it would be Vodka – the rat I usually get most frustrated with – who goes through this horrible experience and needs my help. It’s changed my view of him completely. Sometimes when he’d senselessly attack Mishka I’d see him as a mean little critter, but today seeing him so slow, cautious and in pain has melted my heart. He’s an innocent animal in my care, just like each of our other sweet boys, and I’ve been wrong to love him less. Well I sure plan to make it up to him from here on in! 🙂

…oOo…

The last few weeks have really worn me down. With each new development I’ve seen more clearly that it’s only God’s grace that’s carrying me through. I certainly have no human strength or energy reserves left to face each new wave of bad news. I know it’s the time I spend praying and reading God’s wonderful Bible that renews my hope and faith each day. I may often be weak and discouraged, but I serve a great and faithful Father, who knows exactly what I need and supplies it abundantly!

And on my heart are the words of that lovely worship song from Matt Redman:

Blessed be Your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s ‘all as it should be’
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord…