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!
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?! 🙂
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!
It’s offishal: rats love salmon!
Recently our boys got a taste of smoked trout ribbons and salmon fish spread. (I know, they eat better than some people do. I feel bad about that sometimes. For a second or two. It’s not as though withholding a treat from my bubs will magically feed someone somewhere – it wouldn’t feed anyone at all, considering the tiny amounts it takes to please these guys…)
Anyway, they went crazy for the fishy treats, and I managed to snap a few pics of the fun 🙂
Those smoked trout ribbons were their best treat so far, but on a separate occasion I mixed some salmon fish spread with brown rice and veggies for their supper. That was gulped down just as quickly:
Footnote: Just so you know, rats are only allowed high-protein treats once in a while, and even then only in small samplings. Too much protein can cause their skin to become very itchy and scabby, almost like an allergic reaction. Under normal circumstances a pet rat only needs about 10% of its diet to consist of protein, and definitely no more than 18%. Our rats have almost no protein in their staple diet, so treats such as these once in a while are fine. And as with human diets, variation and moderation are vital 🙂
It’s almost inevitable.
Somehow, one day, you
(or your better half) will accidentally leave the rat cage open, lock up the house and drive away…
It’s so easy to do, especially when you just stuck your hand in the cage for a quick goodbye to sleepy ratties:
But of course they always sleep with one eye open, just waiting for the sound of your car engine to drone away. And then!
So when Ninja and I got home yesterday, the first thing we saw was the empty rat cage and the door standing wide open.
I immediately closed the main house door and checked and closed the bathroom, while Ninja stepped carefully into the bedroom calling out for our furbabies.
But a minute later it was over.
Moon and Knight came running to Ninja within seconds, and I scooped up Voddy and Teddy as soon as they appeared. I was actually quite chuffed that the boys happily came running to us as soon as we called them 🙂
Phew! That’s the first time we’ve given them a run despite ourselves, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. The boys were pooped but clearly happy to have had an adventure. They’d only been out for two hours; thankfully they didn’t destroy anything during that time…
What we really need is a cage door locking mechanism that will show us at a glance whether the cage is secure or not: sort of like those door indicators you see in public toilets!
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…
We’ve had our new pet rats for less than a day, and they’ve spent more time in the cage than with us (so we can give them a chance to settle in), but we’ve already formed a few first impressions of their distinct personalities 🙂 No doubt these will change and change again as they outgrow their insanely fast young energy, but for now you can meet them as they seemed to us on day one:
Cute, small and as lightning-fast as his lightning blaze would suggest, Moon immediately struck us as the most playful of the bunch. We gently poke his side with one finger and he blitzes around the cage, only to return in seconds for more fun. I’ll have to work hard to get some in-focus shots of this little blur! His body clock also seems out of synch with his brothers’, as when they’re asleep, he’s bouncing off the walls…
The slightly leaner and smaller of my boys, Vodka has the ‘rattiest’ face of them all. His long nose and beady eyes just spell ‘vermin’ to us (in the cutest sense, of course!), and we love it. So far he’s seemed to be a smart little guy – the first to discover the treats stashed in the cardboard egg carton, for example. And last night he nestled in my layers of clothes and sat quietly looking out at the world. Ahhh 🙂
The teeniest of them all, Moon’s adorable brother Knight was quickly redubbed Saint Knight. He really seems like a sweetie! He may still be little for now (since he and his brother came from a larger litter, whereas my boys were from a very small litter so there was less competition for their mommy’s milk), but I can already see him growing into a handsome prince like his dad, Salix. He even has the same white chin-spot, which melts my heart 🙂 Knight seems gentle and quietly confident, and seems to love people!
My first dumbo ratty is the biggest boy of all, with a huge head and ears that remind me of a hammerhead shark, lol! I think he thinks he’s the boss because of his size, but the smaller rats aren’t afraid to take him on in a playfight. Like Vodka, he might also have a naughty streak (my previous rats Muesli and Coffee were the same, so it wouldn’t surprise me – I seem to know how to pick the crazies!), but he clearly loves investigating people too 🙂 He was the first to find and start stashing food yesterday, but also the first to want to leave the cage to meet us.
Thanks for journeying with me through the process of getting these boys 🙂 It’s going to be great fun watching these guys grow up. Right now they move so fast they make my head spin (it seems like their enormous cage is only just big enough for all that energy), but as they get used to their new home and new family, I’m sure I’ll have many more pics and stories to share.
And as for Flea? Our poor oldie is not impressed by the sounds and smells of the new arrivals. We’ve let her sniff our hands after handling the boys, but she just stiffens up, backs away and crawls back into her bed 😐 Poor old girlie… her age and frailty form a stark contrast to the hyperactivity of the newbies. We’ll make sure to feed and cuddle her first and keep giving her the attention and care she needs, until the Lord takes her little spirit or Ninja decides it’s time to say goodbye.
But for now, we have five ratties – the most we’ve ever owned at once – and each one is a blessing in their own unique way 🙂