I have a lot on my plate right now… 😉
It’s been a week of lows and highs for our ratties Moon and Knight. The lows, firstly, come from the fact that yesterday was their turn to be neutered. Poor wee critters! Little Moonbeam doesn’t seem to be doing too badly but our Sir Tiny is visibly upset by the trauma…
Luckily there was a high to their week too (not that they know it though!): both of these boys won first place in different categories in our rat club’s first online rat show 😀
Moon was picked out for his beautiful colouring, and won first prize in the Prettiest Markings category:
Ninja’s other boy, Knight, took first place in the mixed category of ‘Best Wannabe’ – and was dubbed ‘Super Ratty’ for his flying leap and determination to get to that salmon:
We’re suitably chuffed with these achievements, I have to say 🙂 Now we can tell people we have award-winning pet rats, hehe. We’re expecting their ribbons and prizes to arrive in the post soon, so watch this space!
The exciting thing is that next year there’s every chance of not only more online competitions like this, but also live rat shows hosted at the annual pet expos around the country. Hopefully we can take part in those too 🙂
So proud of all our gorgeous boys!
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? 🙂
After more than a month of living with us, it was time for our ratties to experience their first free-range run. We’ve let them run on the furniture so far, but last night we braved it to set them loose on the bedroom floor for the first time. And really, it wasn’t that bad. My vague fears of being unable to retrieve them from some tight spot melted away as I watched them bounding around with glee
Moon and Knight were naturals, Vodka was the first to leave the castle, and Mishka took a very l-o-n-g time to warm up to the idea of roaming…
Poor Vodka and Mishka are a bit out of sorts since their op yesterday. The vet did a very neat job and apparently it all went fine, but the poor boys are sore and very grumpy! It makes me feel bad to see them slithering around their cage trying to find relief from the discomfort But I trust that we did the right thing and it will be interesting to see whether the ops make the difference everyone says they will.
Ninja and I have separated the convalescing boys from the little guys so that they can heal in peace without too much rough-and-tumble from their boisterous and unsuspecting smaller brothers. That’s right, Moon and Knight: it’ll be your turn next! In ten days’ time we’ll take them back to the vet for their stitches to be removed, and Lord willing they’ll make a full and fast recovery 🙂
Mishka and Vodka are first up for The Snip tomorrow! My poor rat-mommy heart feels kinda bad for them, but I’m hoping the advantages of neutering will outweigh the stress of an op.
Just quickly then, here are the apparent advantages (which I’ve briefly mentioned before):
- Neutered males tend to be less aggressive and dominant (yesss, Mishka – that one’s for you!)
- Neutering can sometimes help to keep their coats softer for longer
- It is also said to reduce ‘buck grease’, the oily coating that male rats produce on their backs as they get older
- It can apparently help to reduce the risk of some cancers
- And, as with dogs and other sterilised animals, it can lead to fatter and more laid-back pets – which in the case of ratties is of course exactly what we want 😀
We chose for my two boys to get fixed first because they’re the biggest, acting the most dominant and, well, someone had to go first! It’s also a relatively pricey procedure, so we’re splitting the cost over two months. Hopefully the month’s gap will give Moon and Knight a chance to catch up in size a bit as well before their turn comes around.
But speaking of Teddy and Voddy, check out the photo above. You can clearly see here how Vodka (left) is fading very quickly, with a lot more white hairs flecking his Russian blue back. Mishka (right) on the other hand currently seems to be a slow fader, though his coat is definitely lightening up a bit too. For more on rat coat changes, see this post.
So these guys will be off to the vet bright and early tomorrow morning, and then I’ll spend my whole working day thinking about them until I can fetch them in the afternoon 😛 Will let you know how it goes…
Yesterday I was given a truly thoughtful gift. If you want to know anything about me, know that I love gifts. Big or small, free or fancy, I love them all 😀 I love giving them and I love getting them, and nothing beats a gift that’s both personalised and handmade!
A colleague of mine, Elise, does pottery and has recently discovered the cuteness of ratties (through wild rats invading her kitchen and all my blog posts of pet rats). Look at this beautiful ratty teapot she made for me!
It’s named ‘Robert the Rat’ after her nickname for one of the cheeky wild rats that moved into her kitchen. Elise has a real heart for animals and it took weeks before Robert and his family were kindly and humanely removed to their rightful place outside the house. During that time Elise came to appreciate the lively little vermin for their better side 😉
This has to be one of the coolest gifts ever. Not only is it a cheerful sunshine yellow; it’s also only the second time a friend has acknowledged my love for these critters with a gift (the other was a pink mouse-and-bunny-themed receiver blanket given to me by my best friend when we got our girl rats; she searched everywhere to find a baby blanket that didn’t have predators on it!)
I think this counts towards Goal #53 on my new list, don’t you?
Thank you Elise!
A few pics from our rats’ first week with us…
Moon is still the little loner we first thought him to be. He has a very sweet personality but he’s always doing the opposite of what the other three are getting up to. He likes this corner of the cage where he can groom in relative peace.
While cleaning the cage (again!) this week, I decided to entertain the rats with their Ratty Eden. They had a blast tasting the soil and munching the pet grass. Here you can see Moon, Vodka and Knight. The perspective of this pic doesn’t show it, but Knight is still the smallest guy. What a sweetie though 🙂
Mishka was fascinated by the blue glass pebbles I’d dotted around the garden. As you can see, this rat tests everything with his teeth. He’s the first chewing rat we’ve had – in one short week he’s chewed bits of metal, perspex and wood from the cage fittings, as well as several rawhide treats, cardboard boxes, his water bowl and anything else he can find 🙄
Ninja’s boys are very cute with their hands, often drinking and eating with only one hand. It’s adorable to watch them scoop water from their water bowl and lick it off their fingers or wash their faces with it!
If you ever doubted that pet rats are like small pet dogs, just throw a couple of rawhide chew toys into the cage and sit back to watch. The rats leap on these tough treats and each drag theirs off a safe distance away, angling their bodies away from potential thieves.
Then they settle down with determination to gnaw those treats to shreds. They make short work of the hard rawhide and the first to finish will usually venture around to those who are still busy, looking for leftovers and trouble 😛
Little Knight is quite a vocal ratty, at first seeming like the victim most picked on. We thought it might be because he’s so small… but after a few days of observation we realised that he’s often the one to start the scuffles, sidling up to one of his bigger brothers and snatching away the food they’re eating! All of which prompted us to sing him this rhyme:
Tiny tot, tiny tot
Looks so innocent
But he’s not!
For me, the cutest moments with the rats are not just when they seem almost human in their antics, but also when they’re being so very thoroughly ratty. Take the pic above: give them one night with a cardboard box and they’ll chew a stereotypical round hole in the side… and then all try to squeeze through the gap at the same time!
Yesterday we had our old Flea put to sleep 😦 Ninja and I couldn’t bear it anymore to see her struggling so much; the smallest movement became a flailing effort to our arthritic old ratty. We felt we’d done everything we could, and there comes a point where treatment becomes more stressful for a pet than a peaceful passing would be.
Afterwards we took her to my parents’ garden, to bury her near the spots where Muesli, Scribble and Coffee were laid to rest. Of all the options available to pet owners for saying goodbye to their furry friends – be it cremation, burial or leaving the body with the vet – I’ve always felt that burial provides the most honour and closure.
Looking back on her 60-odd rat years, I can see how this fancy rat lived up to her proper name, Faith. First, when she was tiny, Ninja named her because she seemed to need a good dose of faith to venture out into the world. Later when she became comfortable roaming around our home we called her Leap of Faith, because she was never afraid to cover great distances in one bound… just like a small black flea, of course 🙂
Much later, after her tumour removal and the loss of her sister, she continued to live up to her real name, fighting bravely to heal after such an invasive op. And finally, just before her second birthday as she began ageing rapidly, her faithful little personality still led her to wake us up every morning for breakfast, even if she could only just drag her tired legs around.
Another thing that I loved about Flea was that she always seemed – if one can say this of a rat – grateful for the smallest thing. Towards the end when I had to pre-chew all her meals and wipe her face with a cloth because she could no longer groom herself, she would always brux and boggle happily in thanks afterwards. Ninja and I got to have many very sweet moments with the old lady as she cuddled with and slept by us for long periods.
Rest in peace our sweet old Flea. You were the softest ratty I’ve ever kissed and I loved your beautiful fluffy and colourful coat. You showed us the very best side of girl ratties and left us with so many funny and heartwarming memories.
I’d like to share with you a poem that was given to us by the vet yesterday (it’s marked as anonymous so I don’t know who to attribute it to). It was a blessing to me and I hope it’ll bring comfort to you if you’ve also had to make that tough decision to say goodbye to a furbaby. (But I warn you, keep the tissues handy!)
If it should be…
If it should be that I grow frail and weak
And pain should keep me from my sleep
Then you must do what must be done
For me, the last battle can’t be won
You will be sad – I understand
Don’t let your grief then stay
For this day, more than all the rest
Your love and friendship stands the test
We’ve had so many happy years
What is to come can hold no fears
You’d not want me to suffer, so
When the time comes, please let me go
We’ve been so close, we two
Through these years
Don’t let your heart
Hold any tears
Take me where my needs they’ll tend
Only stay with me until the end
Hold me firm and speak to me
Until my eyes no longer see
I know in time you too will see
It is a kindness you do to me
Although my tail its last has waved
From pain and suffering I’ve been saved
Don’t grieve that it should be you
Who has to decide this thing to do
Our new ratties are settling in very well so far. Yesterday I threw them a welcome home party with delicious treats… here are a few pics 🙂
Because they’re still new and very fast and skittish when they’re out their cage, we can’t let them roam freely yet. So their party was confined to the couch. They’re on the go constantly, which means group shots are virtually impossible. Instead, I aimed for individual pics (with their body weights included, for interest’s sake).
And the massive munchkin…
Someone from our rat club actually asked if they were adults or babies, because they’re so big for only 8 weeks of age! An average rat (especially adult females) only weighs between 200 and 300 grams. So I’m sure these are going to grow into huge squishies 😀
I mustn’t have a favourite, and I don’t, because they each have something unique and lovable about them. But I can’t deny that I’m smitten with Mishka as my first dumbo. Those huge ears are ridiculously cute!
Sometimes they make him look all sweet and innocent…
… and other times they make him look like an evil mastermind!