I have a lot on my plate right now… 😉
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…
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!
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!
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!