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!
I’m revolting against the beauty products I’ve been using up to now.
Thanks to recent chats with a good friend and hours of research about the junk that I’ve been slathering on my skin all these years, I’m making some drastic changes to my skincare and haircare products.
I’m tired of paying good money to buy lotions and potions containing dozens of ingredients that can actually harm my body. Often these products have also harmed a few lab animals before they got to me, and will harm the environment again after I’m done with them.
Some of these ingredients I can’t even pronounce! And it’s not just my cosmetics – it goes for food too. But for now I’m starting on a healthier path by making changes to my beauty products first.
I can’t believe I left it so long before I began questioning what goes into the things I buy. But thanks to a tip-off from my savvy friend, I discovered a wonderful solution: Faithful to Nature. Here’s a South African online store that sells a phenomenal range of natural, organic, eco-friendly and cruelty-free products. From healthy foodstuffs to natural skincare and everything in between, Faithful to Nature has made it a breeze for me to begin changing over to a greener lifestyle.
I placed my first order with them last week, and it arrived in record time. In each package the FtN team includes a few samples of other natural products you might like to try… and I just love that. Unwrapping all the goodies felt like my birthday! I was super impressed with FtN’s friendly and efficient service – so much so that I spent the next few days browsing their site again, and placed my next order shortly after!
One of the best products I tried in my first order was the Credé coconut oil. Mmmm… never did I imagine that I could walk around smelling like my favourite cocktail! Coconut oil (CO) is often in the green news these days, with health gurus lauding its use in cooking and as a natural beauty product.
Now my poor Ninja was so put off by the coconut everything that we ate when I was doing the 21-day sugar detox, that I haven’t risked adding this oil to our meals (as yet)! But as a moisturiser and a conditioner it has no equal. I used it as a hair mask overnight (be sure to cover your pillow with an old towel if you try it) and it helped revive my poor overworked hair.
I’ve also been using it daily as a marvellous moisturiser for my skin. (My ratties are quite delighted that I taste so good these days; in the pic above Voddy and Teddy are licking off all my CO handcream!) Next I plan to test the theory that coconut oil is even great for shaving. I’m so stoked about this product. It’s easily and quickly replaced my previous chemical body lotions.
Anyway, so that’s a little snippet of what I’ve been up to of late. I’m excited about changing over to healthier choices, and glad that the Faithful to Nature team has worked so hard to make affordable and varied options available. I still have a long way to go with this journey, but you can be sure I’ll be sending you postcards of my progress 🙂
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:
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.”
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!):
Of course they each grabbed a piece as soon as they could…
… and scurried off to their separate corners to chow down 🙂
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:
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?! 🙂
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‘!)
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! 🙂
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…
Thanks to the generosity of a very artistically gifted friend, I can now add another ratty-themed decor item to my collection! (Are you tired of this yet? I’m not! I think this collection is just gathering momentum.)
Looking at this picture, you’ll probably recognise my Robert the Rat teapot on the right and Cheddar in the middle… and now on the left is a tribute to the clever graffiti art of Banksy’s rat photographer.
It’s so accurately painted that when a shop assistant saw me carrying it he immediately said, ‘That looks like Banksy art!’ Indeed. In fact, it’s so good I hope it doesn’t count as plagiarism, haha! 😛
But I reckon this case falls well within the bounds of fair use for personal purposes; just a little replica of street art that resonates with me because it represents both my love of rats and my love of photography in one eye-catching statement.
So I’m grateful to Banksy for making rats the subject of art, and to my beautiful friend for pouring her talent into such a special keepsake for me 🙂
Remember these little guys?
Well, six months later they’ve grown into four very handsome young adults:
‘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 🙂
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.
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 🙂
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!
This may not be true to the Chinese zodiac, but 2013 has certainly been ‘the year of the rat’ for me! I laid to rest two beautiful girls (Coffee and Flea) and got four handsome new boys to fill our home.
My understanding of these sweet fancy rat pets has deepened over the last year, and my love for them has grown. And you, my dear readers, have borne the brunt of my strange obsession!
I’m sure you didn’t expect the Sunshine Scrapbook to turn into such a rodentcentric blog; neither did I. But this small spot on the web is where I share all the bright, beautiful, sweet and fluffy things that bring joy to my life – and rats just happen to tick all of those boxes 🙂
For a bit of fun as 2013 comes to an end, here are 13 famous rats you may or may not know… How many of them can you name?
Did you get them all? Check your answers below:
#13 – This is a Banksy rat, one of many clever rodents painted by British graffiti artist Banksy. (Photo credit: Unknown/Banksy)
#12 – I don’t know its name, but that’s an Ellen van Deelen rat, of course! If you want an overload of ratty cuteness that can’t be matched, google the excellent photography of Ellen van Deelen. I bet every rat owner wishes they could take such amazing pics of their bubs… (Photo credit: Ellen van Deelen)
#11 – The 11th rat on my list is Hector, a dapper little astronaut sent into space by the French in 1961. (Photo credit: RedScharlach.tumblr/Original unknown)
#10 – This guy won’t make much sense unless you’ve watched the kiddies’ TV show Bananas in Pyjamas. That’s Rat-In-A-Hat. (Photo credit: Bananas in Pyjamas wikia)
#9 – Now this face you must know! Arguably one of the most famous fictional rats around: Templeton from Charlotte’s Web. (Photo credit: Paramount Pictures)
#8 – Yup, that’s a gathering of rats at the Karni Mata temple in India, where tens of thousands of so-called kabbas rats are fed and venerated and allowed to run rampant. Gross, gross, gross. And that’s coming from a rat lover! (Photo credit: Wikimedia)
#7 – The artwork is so distinctive, I’m sure you knew that that fat rat is Beatrix Potter’s Samuel Whiskers 🙂 (Photo credit: Beatrix Potter)
#6 – Booger the dog and Kitty the cat wouldn’t have been the hit they were if they hadn’t been topped by Mousie the rat (admittedly, there were several different Mousies over time). This famous trio or animal pyramid was the brilliant idea of a man named Greg Pike. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
#5 – It’s Ratbert, of course. Ratbert the Consultant, co-worker with Dilbert, Catbert and Dogbert. Hehehe 🙂 (Photo credit: Dilbert wikia)
#4 – His jacket probably gave it away if you didn’t know which rat this was: it’s Rizzo from the Muppets. OK, so I learnt that from Google myself… I’ve never watched a Muppets show in my life! (Photo credit: Muppet wikia)
#3 – The only wise and feisty rat sensei out there: Splinter from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
#2 – If you think a rat can’t change the world, think again. HeroRATs are trained to do life-saving work such as landmine detection and tubercolosis detection. (Photo credit: APOPO/Wikimedia Commons)
#1 – Oops, I cheated: #1 is actually four rats – my very own fantastic four 😉
Have a happy New Year everyone! See you in 2014!
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 😀
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!
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, 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 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’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? 🙂