Tag Archives: Berkshire rat

Six months later…

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Remember these little guys?

Boys from Litter 1

Well, six months later they’ve grown into four very handsome young adults:

Moon Rover

Moon Rover

‘Moonymoonymoonbeam…!’ I call out, and there comes a blazing streak of black and white dashing towards me 😀 Moon is the littlest boy in our bunch, but weighing 440 g is still decent for a male rat. In the four months he’s been with us he’s earned lots of random nicknames, including ‘Opposite Rat’ (for always being awake when the others are sleeping) and ‘Pliable’ (for accepting pretty much whatever cuddling you subject him to). He’s my second favourite ratty 🙂

Voddy Vodka

Voddy Vodka

Oh dear, poor Voddy! We have a bit of a tumultuous relationship, he and I, because I get fed up with his senseless biting of my Mishka’s ears :/ He still picks on Mishka daily (his favourite time to strike is when the helpless dumbo is sleeping), but when he’s not being divisive he’s a really cute rat. He’s also very smart and the quickest to learn the few tricks we’ve tried teaching him. Ninja has a special place in his heart for this rat; we often joke that we should swap so I can call Moon mine and he can have Vodka! But of course they all belong to both of us 🙂 Vodka is our second biggest rat, weighing 500 g.

Sir Knight the Polite

Sir Knight the Polite

Ah Knight, the little gentleman 🙂 The pose in the pic above is typical of Knight’s polite, if-you-don’t-mind-I’ll-have-that-tidbit-now kind of attitude. He weighs 480 g at the moment, and feels so solid and well muscled in our hands. If you think you can resist the cuteness of a black rat, it all changes when those adorable white socks are clinging on the cage bars and begging for a run! Sometimes we still call him Tiny Tot even though he isn’t anymore, and I also call him our little Black Roof Rat 🙂

Squishy Mishka

Squishy Mishka

Awww Meeeeeshka! He weighs 520 g now and has carved out a cosy nest for himself in the middle of my heart 😀 He seems to slowly be outgrowing his reticence during free runs, but occasionally we do still see him peering cautiously around a corner as in the pic above 🙂 His attitude in the cage with his brothers is gentle, though he enjoys a good scuffle like the rest of them – and his policy for dealing with upstarts is simply to sit on them!

I’m very pleased with the progress our boys have made. They’ve all been neutered and Vodka and Knight recovered from the infections they got from the ops. They’ve all gained weight at a good rate and so far they’ve had no respiratory issues. At six months they’re officially mature, and it’s hard to believe they’ve already experienced about one quarter to one fifth of their expected lifetime.

Looking ahead, I hope that we can start taking one or two of them on short trips with us, as I’ve heard many rat owners do successfully. I also plan to add vitamins to their diet this year, and to keep up the regular clipping of their nails (that’s always fun!). As you know, Moon and Knight won prizes in our rat club’s first online rat show last year. In 2014 the club is hoping to host their first live show, and I’d really love to enter our boys in that competition if possible 🙂

And now enough blogging about the bubs… time for me to go clean their cage and give them that free run they’re begging for!

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Goal #69: Get more pet rats – Done!

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I can happily cross off the 69th goal on my 101 things in 1001 days list now, because yesterday our new ratties came home 😀

After last weekend’s delay and the long road we’ve travelled on this blog through each stage of their growth, it’s wonderful to welcome them home at last.

The airline that flies live animals has a special collection point called the Pet Lounge. It’s a simple building near the cargo bays, with a reception area and couches and a coffee table. Ninja and I got there an hour early so we could have a relaxed wait.

The collection point

The collection point

Soon one of South Africa’s other pedigree rat breeders (the lady who bred our sweet Coffee and Flea) joined us, as she also had bubs to collect from this Wheatfields bunch. We got chatting about all things ratty until a crate arrived bustling with boys!

A box of boys

A box of boys

There were about 8 or 9 boys that flew together in that crate, while a separate crate arrived holding 1 or 2 girls. I snapped a quick pic before we opened the box and began figuring out whose rat was whose. We didn’t have much trouble picking out our bubs – after months of staring longingly at their photos, their markings were pretty much emblazoned on our brains!

Our boys

Our boys

We quickly separated our four out into their travel cage. Doing so it just hit me once again how beautifully these babies have been raised. You might normally think twice about sticking your arm into a crate of wriggling rodents, but these animals already know and love people. No nipping at all – only the flashing of dozens of curious whiskers everywhere at once! There wasn’t a squeak or scuffle to be heard as we plucked them out one at a time to check their markings.

Finally, after chatting a bit more with the other people who’d arrived to fetch ratties, Ninja and I packed up our kittens and headed home. It’s a fair distance from the airport to our place, and it was a very hot day. So as Ninja drove I sprinkled the rats with drops of water as they flailed around in the cage at my feet, clearly tired out by their hectic day but still curious about everything happening around them.

We got them home as fast as we could and once inside their new mansion, they went straight for the water.

Cool relief at the water bowl

Cool relief at the water bowl

Knight and Moon scooped up water with their little hands, to drink and to wipe all over their heads as a cool face wash!

Knight and Moon

Knight and Moon

We’ve placed two water bottles and one water bowl in the corner of their cage, which they figured out instantly.

Mishka

Mishka

Once they were cooled down, the investigating began! Ninja’s nickname for them – scurries – couldn’t be more accurate 🙂

Scurries!

Scurries!

Rat cages (part two)

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While we wait for the new rats to arrive (it seems to be taking forever… not that I’m all that patient 😉 ), let’s take a closer look at their new cage.

Top floor

The top floor

I placed the rats’ gardens (one with grass and lettuce, the other with flourishing lentil sprouts) on top of the cage just for the photo. Naturally, these will be placed on the floor when we let the rats roam free. (You can see the small wooden log ladder there too, which we’ll use to connect the gardens.)

At the top of the cage we have a black plastic Sputnik, a plastic ferret tunnel and a makeshift hammock (an old PJ pants leg held up and open by two dowel rods). We’ve also found our best-yet solution to the question of cage levels. This time around we’ve laid thin sheets of white perspex across wooden dowel sticks. These are all removable and should be a cinch to clean each week – much better than either the metal trays or the cloth levels.

The middle levels

The middle levels

Most of the rat toys and accessories are on the two middle levels. This cage setup is an improvement over our previous layouts because we’ve squeezed in an extra level. Here you can see cardboard and plastic boxes lined with shredded unprinted newspaper, a rope walkway, metal ladders, a mini dome (part of a Sputnik) and an egg carton.

It’s so exciting to picture four little ‘scurries’ (as Ninja has dubbed them) exploring this cage!

And finally, the ground floor:

The ground floor

The ground floor

This is where the mealtime action will be. On the left we have two water bottles and a water bowl, strategically placed over the tile so they have to wear down their nails a bit. In the back left corner we’ve left space for their toilet (did you know rats can be toilet trained? Yay!). And on the right is their food bowl under another piece of grey Sputnik (rats like places to hide). Not visible in this pic but hanging from the front right side of the cage is a metal stick used to skewer fruit and veg for the rats. They love the challenge of that kind of treat 🙂

And what about Flea, I hear you ask?

She has her retirement home right below the mansion:

Hello Flea!

Hello Flea!

Since the old lass can’t climb anymore, we’ve limited her quarters to food, water, toilet and sleeping dome. By God’s grace we found the perfect-sized cage for her, which fits on the bottom of the main cage’s stand. This way Flea is kept off the cold floor. All through winter she’s also had her pink blankie to block out draughts and a hot-water bottle under her bed to keep her snug. So though her nose may be out of joint with the newcomers, at least she can’t complain that we love her any less 😉

Paperwork, pedigrees and pics

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So! We’ve signed the contracts for our new boys and received their pedigrees. Only four sleeps left till we fetch our newbies from the airport! :mrgreen:

The contract is a standard one that all proper breeders will require prospective rat owners to sign. I guess it must be similar to contracts from breeders of other pedigreed animals. It’s simply an agreement between Ninja and I and Wheatfields Rattery, to ensure that:

  • we don’t breed with our new bubs
  • the rats can be confiscated if we don’t care for them properly, and
  • the rats must never be sold to a pet shop – if for any reason we can’t keep them anymore, they must go back to the breeder.

The pedigrees are what you would expect: documents showing the ratties’ ancestry as far back as their great-great grandparents. This time on the pedigrees, the breeder used the names we’ve called the rats, which is cool and very official 😉

Today the breeder took the boys to the lady who’ll be the one arranging the flight. Before they left their only known home, though, they had one last photoshoot:

Moon – Black lightning-blazed vari-berk

Moon – Black lightning-blazed vari-berk

Knight – Black Berkshire

Knight – Black Berkshire

Mishka – Russian Blue striped roan dumbo

Mishka – Russian Blue striped roan dumbo

Vodka – Russian Blue striped roan

Vodka – Russian Blue striped roan

The breeder says they’re unstoppably active at this stage, which is going to be a major change for us now that we’re used to the quiet slow pace of lady Flea-Flea 🙂

It’s also interesting to see how my boys are starting to fade already. Some rats are very fast faders, while other coat colours and genes hardly fade at all. I hope they’ll still keep some of their beautiful silvery colouring though!

Anyway, so it’s been a great journey for me taking you through this series of posts on the process of ordering new ratties. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have. Little remains for Ninja and I to do other than to thoroughly clean their future home, prepare some welcome-home snacks, and wait to hear what time their flight from Cape Town should arrive in Joburg.

Till then, have a sunny week!

Zest

Happy birthday Flea!

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Party 8

Our dear fluffy Flea turned 2 years old today – or 60 years old in rat years! She’s our first ratty to live this long (though hopefully not the last), so it’s a special day for us. Wish her adorable sister Coffee could have shared the party too.

In time for her birthday we took Flea to the vet a few days ago, to get her teeth trimmed and to give her a vitamin B complex and multivitamin shot. Her teeth needed trimming because she’s slowly stopped eating hard foods (can’t hold them so well in her hands anymore), and as you may know, rats’ teeth never stop growing.

It made our spines crawl to hear her teeth being clipped down with one loud click (just thinking about it reminds me of the feeling you get when you drag your nails on a chalkboard… ugh!), but the vet was super and it was quick and painless. Flea did squeak when she was jabbed for the vitamin injection, but that too was over in seconds, and she seems to have perked up quite a bit since that dose.

Anyway, here are a few pics from her birthday party 🙂

Breakfast: porridge with Ensure and dried blueberries

Breakfast: porridge with Ensure and dried blueberries

This morning before church I whipped up Flea’s delicious breakfast: baby porridge with vanilla Ensure (a complete nutritional supplement) and dried blueberries (which she carefully ate around, the fusspot!).

Then later this afternoon I set up a sunny spot for her birthday photoshoot. Since she doesn’t eat huge portions anymore I limited the treats to scattered candied sunflower seeds and some coconut biscuits baked by Flea’s granny AKA my mom 😉

The birthday girl arrives

The birthday girl arrives

Party 3Party 4Party 5Party 6Party 7

Flea nommed happily on that biscuit for ages, especially when we moistened it a bit and held it up for her. What a feast! :mrgreen:

Ninja and I spoiling our ratty

Ninja and I spoiling our ratty

Happy birthday sweet furball… you’re a blessing from the Lord and we enjoy your company every day 🙂

A bundle of brothers

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Only two weeks to go until we bring our new ratties home! 😀

The breeder has now placed all our boys together, so there won’t be any intros for us to worry about when they arrive. As far as they’re concerned, they’re all brothers now 🙂

Here are a few of the latest pics (all courtesy of Wheatfields Rattery of course, though I didn’t get a chance to watermark them).

From left: Vodka, Moon, Mishka (standing) and Knight.

Vodka, Moon, Mishka and Knight

Some curiosity from Vodka. And you can see Mishka’s widely spaced dumbo ears here as he grooms.

Boys 2

The breeder explained that the ratties are a blur of activity at this age. I love their inquisitive little faces and interest in their world. Here you can see Moon’s almost ‘piebald’ markings.

Boys 3

Knight looks a lot like Flea, but there’s no mistaking that teeny white chin! *melt*

Boys 4

It’s cute how long and stretchy-looking the ratties are at this age. Their colourings and markings are also showing clearly now, and it will be interesting to see whether they fade or change over time.

Boys 5

I can’t wait to meet these cuties!!! We’ve been stocking up on plenty interesting toys and cage treats for them, which I hope to post about soon…

Also, our old Flea is doing fairly well. Her hind leg degeneration (HLD) is more pronounced now, but she’s still up and about each day. I enjoyed a lovely nap with her the other evening; a warm soft ball of elderly pet rat, bruxing with happiness as she fell asleep by me. Ninja and I are giving her loads of affection, knowing that each day is a chance to appreciate our old girl.

She struggles to eat hard foods now, so I cook or mash up most of her food, which she then devours. The other day I made her some peas, but had to shell and soften them for her as her little hands don’t grip things as well as they used to. Next weekend will be her 2nd birthday (the equivalent of her 60th in human years); Lord willing I can throw her a little party with special treats and lots of love 🙂

Fluffies!

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Our ratties’ breeder has just sent me some of the latest pics of our boys :mrgreen:

Without further ado, here are Moon and Knight at 24 days old:

Moon and Knight 6

One black tail and one pink one

Moon and Knight 8

Knight washing his face

Moon and Knight 11

They look so fluffy!

Notice Knight's adorable white chin

Notice Knight’s adorable white chin

Moon's beautiful blaze on display

Moon’s beautiful blaze on display

And my boys, Vodka and Mishka:

Just look at Mishka’s huge ears!

Vodka and Mishka 7

Such beautiful silvery brothers

Vodka’s little pink mouth

Vodka and Mishka 11

One look and all resistance crumbles

Vodka and Mishka 16

Curious cuties

Now the countdown really begins… just over a month left until we meet these sweeties 😀

Christmas in July Part 2

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The Christmas in July gifts for me and Flea finally arrived in the post! I raced home from the post office to unwrap the box… with Flea’s help 😉

Our Secret Santa (SS) was very generous!!!

Christmas in July 2013

Christmas in July 2013

Inside the box we found…

  • two small boxes (a pink one and a blue one, for Flea and the new boys respectively) filled with all manner of tasty ratty treats: mini Marie biscuits, choc-coated sunflower seeds, yoghurt drops and rooibos biscuits
  • three cute rat-themed decals
  • the Ratatouille movie DVD (which we’ve never watched before, shame on us!)
  • a fleecy tunnel for the rat cage
  • and a stunning necklace for me!
Flea tastes her first-ever yogi

Flea tastes her first-ever yogi

My gorgeous new necklace

My gorgeous new necklace

Rat treats in a jar with a ratty decal

Rat treats in a jar with a ratty decal

That was the best fun I’ve had in the middle of winter in a long time :mrgreen:

Count me in for next year’s one!

Ah, now we see!

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The baby ratties‘ eyes opened this past week! I told you they just get cuter by the day… :mrgreen:

This is what their breeder had to say about them at this age:

Now with their eyes open they start to explore their cage a little bit. This gives their poor moms a hard time as they still want to keep the babies bundled in the nest; while she is collecting the babies one at a time to carry back to the nest, the ones she has packed back in are passing her on their way out to continue exploring!

Hahaha! 😀

Of course you’ll want to see pictures. But first, I must publish a quick erratum: Ninja told me that his black Berkie isn’t Night – his name is Knight. OK. So now we know 😉

And now for the pics!

Here are Knight (in front) and Moon at 15 days old.

Moon and Knight 1

Their little eyes aren’t fully opened yet, which makes them look adorably sleepy!

Moon and Knight 2

Here you can see Moon’s beautiful blaze. I also like his gentle expression. But it looks like he can be playful too!

Moon and Knight 3

I love how ratties always need to be close to other ratties 🙂

Moon and Knight 4

And here are my boys, also at 15 days of age. Say hello to Mishka and Vodka:

Vodka and Mishka 1

You can see Mishka’s big round dumbo ears quite clearly in some of these pics. Here he is striking a pose…

Vodka and Mishka 2

Don’t these ratties just look so clean and shiny? 🙂 And that beautiful grey-blue colouring goes well with the snowy white for a truly Russian-themed pair!

Vodka and Mishka 5

It’s an overload of cuteness and I am so excited to meet them! They look infinitely cuddly 😛

Vodka and Mishka 4

It’s amazing to think that only two short weeks ago, these little guys were helpless, hairless pinkies. Ratties’ lives are so short, so I’m glad to enjoy each stage of their development.

Our old girl Flea is getting noticeably older now. She’s our first ratty to survive into old age with us, so it’s a new experience. While it’s always sad to see the slow decline of an animal that you’ve loved, there are positive sides to her ageing too. The best part is how much she asks for affection and wants to be close to us. She was never a ‘lap ratty’ until her op and of course the loss of her sister, but since then she spends much longer with us outside the cage before showing signs she wants to go back.

We are doing all we can to keep her warm, loved and well-fed, and we hope she’ll keep going strong to see her 2nd birthday at the end of August and the arrival of the new boys a few weeks later.

Precious old girl

Precious old girl

A tog in training

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Tog as in photog. As in photographer. Okay, okay, never mind… 🙂

Here are some of the practice pics I’ve been snapping lately as I bond with my beastie!

Meringue with strawberries and cream

I can’t take credit for the cooking on this one: my mom treated me to this meringue with strawberries and cream when I visited her the other day. Yum, I love my mom! 🙂

Aloe

Aloe

Classic South African flora: a flowering aloe plant.

Robin

Robin

This wild Cape robin-chat has ‘trained’ my parents to feed him whenever he sings at their kitchen door… and he does this about seven times a day! Adorable free pet 🙂

New fur for Flea

New fur for Flea

And speaking of pets, here’s our fuzzbutt Flea. Can you see how her fur has grown back pitch black in that patch under her arm?

The sweetest face

The sweetest face

I also have a bit of amazing news to share: I’ve been asked to extend my current contract of office work until the end of the year, instead of wrapping up in August.

This offer from my boss came as a major blessing and a big relief to Ninja and I, as it means I’ll be getting a few extra salaries this year above what we’d planned for… which of course also means that our budget will quickly recover from the knock it took with my camera. The Lord has been so generous to provide this ‘safety net’ – and all that after I’d taken the leap of faith to get my camera!

Anyway, that’s all from me for today. Hope it’s sunny where you are :mrgreen: