Tag Archives: black Berkshire rats

Handsome young bucks

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Our pet rats are heading for 4 months of age soon, which is about the equivalent of 25 human years. I thought it was time for an update on how they’ve grown in the almost two months they’ve been with us.

Firstly, they’ve all pretty much doubled in weight. Since rats reach maturity at 6 months, these guys are only halfway there – but already they all weigh much more than an average adult female. They’re gonna be beeeg squeeeshes 😀

Cuddles in the cold weather

Cuddles in the cold weather

If you look back at when we got them, you can compare their weights then with what they weigh now:

Mishka – 400 g (gained 150 g) – still the chunkiest hunk 😉

Vodka – 380 g (gained 160 g) – the fastest-growing boy

Knight – 380 g (gained 190 g) – doubled his weight; no longer the tiniest!

Moon – 340 g (gained 140 g) – the slowest grower

So they’re all healthy and doing well, and I’m sure the Russian Blues would weigh even more if it wasn’t for their op!

Moon

Moon

Their coats have also changed in the time we’ve had them. Moon, the sweet variberk, hasn’t showed too much fading or colour change apart from some extra white hairs on his back.

Knight

Knight

Knight, the black Berkshire rat, is showing his mother’s colours through his dad’s black coat. He’s getting lots of white flecks on his back and his sides are a bit lighter than before.

Mishka

Mishka

Mishka the dumbo’s Russian Blue coat isn’t fading too fast; there’s some white flecking on his bum and around his sides, but so far he seems to be hanging onto his lovely colours 🙂 Which is more than can be said for his brother…

Vodka

Vodka

Vodka’s Russian Blue colours are fading daily. He has a dark spot above his tail and a dark ‘mullet’ behind his head, but the rest of the grey is going white very quickly. He’s clearly on hyperdrive, this boy: the biggest weight gain, the fastest-fading coat, the first to learn new tricks and the first to explore.

Personality wise, they’ve settled into our original expectations rather well 🙂

Moony Moonbeam has a ‘body clock’ that’s the exact opposite of his cagemates’. He’s always the one up and about in the middle of the day when the other three are fast asleep. And at night he settles down in his hammock all drowsy-like while the others gambol about him. He loves exploring and quietly slips away undetected, and he has a sweet nature with his humans and doesn’t mind cuddles.

Sir Tiny Knight is hardly tiny anymore. He’s big enough to put everyone else in their place and topples even Mishka if needs be. He’s still a bit squeaky when he gets groomed, but on the whole he’s laid back, neat and gentle. We’ve got another nickname for him too: Tiny Stark. It’s a play on Tony Stark (Iron Man) because Tony never likes to have anything handed to him, and the same is true of Knight. Bring treats to the cage and the other boys will snatch them up with no manners, but not this little dumpling! He just won’t take anything (except lettuce and fresh veggies) from you with his mouth. You have to put the treat on the floor in front of him before he takes it away 😛

Voddy Vodka is, as mentioned above, the rat on hyperdrive. He’s been on meds this week because he got an infection from his op, but we never would have known about it because he just carried on as normal. It looked very sore when the vet removed the stitches, but now our crazy ‘Rat of Rats’ is back in good health. I’m glad I have Vodka who’s so outgoing and friendly, because if both my rats turned out like Mishka I would feel a bit discouraged!

My lovable teddy bear Mishka is not just the biggest and cutest bub; he’s also the most fearful and nervous. As you can see from his first free run, it took him way too long to realise that freedom can be fun. When he’s out of his cage, he freezes with fear and struggles to relax. Ninja and I have to sit very still when Mishka’s on the loose; no loud noises or sudden movements allowed. Still, he has his days. Sometimes he bounds around just like the others. I’ll need to put in a bit of work with this one to help him learn to trust… but with a face like this, who can resist? 🙂

Teddy bear

Teddy bear

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Rat coats: fading and rusting

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In response to Shiotadesu’s question about fading coat colours… Berkshire rats (like Flea) don’t fade so much as ‘rust’. Here’s a quick pic of Flea (fleeing from her party, as it were!) where you can see this clearly. It almost looks like I’ve photo-edited together pics of an orange rat and a brown rat! 😀

Flea's technicolour dreamcoat

Flea’s technicolour dreamcoat

Flea’s coat has become a great source of amusement to me as she’s aged, because it seems as though every few months she grows a new patch in a different colour. She has pitch black in the places where she was shaved for her op, rusty red on her bum, white on her tummy, dark brown on her head, pinky-grey around her nose and now patches of grey on her shoulders! Funny little furball 🙂

Siamese rats, like our Coffee, always fade over time, so that eventually only their Siamese ‘points’ (ears, nose, ankles and tail) are dark. Coffee was a Siamese hooded, so while her hoodie faded completely, the thick stripe on her back didn’t. These pics show the progression nicely:

Coffee as a teeny bub: dark Siamese markings

Coffee as a teeny bub: dark Siamese markings

Much lighter (but still visible) hoodie markings

Much lighter (but still visible) hoodie markings

The unusual dark back she was left with (plain Siamese don't have this)

The unusual dark back she was left with (plain Siamese don’t have this)

(That last pic makes me smile… she was such a hooligan, haha!)

And finally, a quick look at our previous boys, Scribble and Muesli. They were both agouti badger huskies, and they faded quite slowly.

Shortly after we got them: dark husky markings

Shortly after we got them: dark husky markings

Over a year later: patchy fading

Over a year later: patchy fading

K, that’s that for now 🙂

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

Booking the boys

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Sorry to keep you waiting… but here they are: pics of the baby boys at 10 days old!

If you thought the pinkies were cute and the parents were pretty, you’ll love these fuzzies.

Boys from Litter 1

Boys from Litter 1

Those were the males born to Count Fleet and Salvia. And these little guys are the boys from Salix and Juniper:

Boys from Litter 2

Boys from Litter 2

Such silky babies! I’d take them all home if I could 😉 But of course Ninja and I had to pick just two each…

My choice was easy. I’d been hoping for at least one dumbo-eared boy and one Russian Blue or Russian Silver boy. So I immediately booked the two Russian Blue brothers from Litter 1, one of which is dumbo eared! 😀

My boys

My boys

Ninja’s choice was just as instant: he picked the black Berkshire and one of the lightning-blazed boys from Litter 2:

Ninja's boys

Ninja’s boys

Squeeeeeee! 🙂

And of course we’ve already picked out names for them. Since mine are Russian Blue rats, I wanted Russian names… so the standard-eared boy is going to be Vodka and the dumbo will be Mishka (meaning ‘little bear’ or ‘teddy bear’ in Russian). Mishka is my first ratty to break away from my usual choice of ‘foodie’ names for my rats (Muesli, Coffee, Vodka), but I like the way it works with Vodka.

Ninja immediately dubbed his boys Night (the black Berkshire) and Moon (the blazed boy; if you look closely you can see a sickle-moon shape in the white blaze on his head). I did warn Ninja, though, that I’ll probably end up taking liberties with those names, because I find two-syllabled pet names are easier to call out.

But anyway, are these guys nunu or what? :mrgreen:

Meet the parents…

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As you may have guessed, our new rats are not just ‘any old rodents’ :mrgreen:

They’re Wheatfields bubs, sourced from one of the best-loved pedigreed-rat breeders in South Africa. And I’m not the only one who thinks so.

Among the members of our lively South African rat club, Wheatfields Rattery is known for raising beautiful, healthy and exceptionally well-socialised fancy rats. Everyone speaks fondly of their ‘WF kids’. Our first male pet rats, Scribble and Muesli, were Wheatfields boys too.

So it’s with that as a backdrop that I present to you the parents of our new furballs… *drumroll please*

Litter 1

This beautiful boy is Count Fleet, dad to the kittens of Litter 1. He’s a handsome black roan badger husky, with those huge dumbo ears that I’ve been longing to see in in a rat of my own 🙂

WF Count Fleet

WF Count Fleet

Count Fleet was mated to this gentle-looking Russian Blue striped roan girl, who has standard ears. Her name is Salvia, and isn’t she stunning? I’m a big fan of that soft silvery-blue colouring.

WF Salvia

Litter 2

You’d be forgiven for thinking it, but no, this isn’t our current girl Flea!

Meet Salix, the father of Litter 2. He’s a fine glossy black Berkshire gentleman with standard ears, and apparently a lovely personality to match.

WF Salix

WF Salix

And last but not least, this pretty lass is Juniper. She’s a black striped roan, also with standard ears, and mom to the bubs of Litter 2. That little round tummy of hers is just begging to be kissed! 😉

WF Juniper

WF Juniper

With such a varied lineage it was anyone’s guess as to what would turn up in the litters, but when we saw the resulting boys, we were smitten…

Stay tuned for the next installment: choosing and booking the boys! 😀