Tag Archives: rat care

Prawn fest

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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!):

Prawn fest 2

*drool*

Of course they each grabbed a piece as soon as they could…

Voddy makes off with a prawn

Voddy makes off with a prawn

… and scurried off to their separate corners to chow down 🙂

Knight eats neatly - a true little gentleman

Knight eats neatly – a true little gentleman

Mishka licks his prawns rather than holding them

Mishka licks his prawns rather than holding them

Moon tucks in while the poor prawn stares at me accusingly

Moon tucks in while the poor prawn stares at me accusingly

Vodka looks guilty as he helps himself to seconds

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:

Before

Before

After

After

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?! 🙂

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These things happen in threes…

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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‘!)

Voddy before his injury

Voddy before his injury

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! 🙂

…oOo…

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 happens to the best of us…

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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:

sleeping rat

Irresistible and innocent

But of course they always sleep with one eye open, just waiting for the sound of your car engine to drone away. And then!

Freedom!!!

Freedom!!!

So when Ninja and I got home yesterday, the first thing we saw was the empty rat cage and the door standing wide open.

Gulp!

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!

New pets: first impressions

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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:

Moon

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…

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Newbies 14

Vodka

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 🙂

Newbies 16

Newbies 15

Knight

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!

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Newbies 11

Cute Knight with his brothers scuffling in the background

Cute Knight with his brothers scuffling in the background

Mishka

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.

Newbies 9

Newbies 8

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 🙂

Cardboard rat castle

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Our new ratties arrived today! Whoop whoop! I’ll share all about that in a moment, but first I want to brag about the super rat castle that my creative husband made 🙂

It’s finally done, so here are all the levels and how they fit together:

Level 1

Level 1

The rats enter through a classic ‘mouse-hole’-shaped doorway and have to navigate a maze (it even has a wrong turn with a dead end built in).

Level 2

Level 2

The second storey has a viewing window (covered with clear plastic) and a fenced-in area that can be filled with stones through which the rats can snuffle for treats 🙂

Levels 1 and 2 set up

Levels 1 and 2 set up

The whole contraption is made from nothing but strong cardboard and plastic packaging tape.

Level 3

Level 3

The third level can also be filled with interesting items for the rats to crawl through – I’m thinking of using scraps of old material. As you can see, each level is covered with tape so that any pee spots or food messes can be wiped up with ease.

Levels 1, 2 and 3 set up

Levels 1, 2 and 3 set up

Levels 2 and 3 both have cute viewing windows and staircases with steps for easy grip when the rats ascend or descend.

Level 4

Level 4

Finally, the rats will emerge into the open space on Level 4. It has a small shaded area on the one side though, because we know how much ratties like scurrying straight to dark, safe places :mrgreen:

The complete castle

The complete castle

What a labour of love! I’m so impressed with my husband’s ideas and hard work. In my mind’s eye I picture this as the ratty version of a gorgeous fancy hotel, and if I had time I’d paint it Mediterranean white with palm trees and cute details all over… but I know the ratties don’t need that – they’ll love it exactly as is 🙂

Rat cages (part two)

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While we wait for the new rats to arrive (it seems to be taking forever… not that I’m all that patient 😉 ), let’s take a closer look at their new cage.

Top floor

The top floor

I placed the rats’ gardens (one with grass and lettuce, the other with flourishing lentil sprouts) on top of the cage just for the photo. Naturally, these will be placed on the floor when we let the rats roam free. (You can see the small wooden log ladder there too, which we’ll use to connect the gardens.)

At the top of the cage we have a black plastic Sputnik, a plastic ferret tunnel and a makeshift hammock (an old PJ pants leg held up and open by two dowel rods). We’ve also found our best-yet solution to the question of cage levels. This time around we’ve laid thin sheets of white perspex across wooden dowel sticks. These are all removable and should be a cinch to clean each week – much better than either the metal trays or the cloth levels.

The middle levels

The middle levels

Most of the rat toys and accessories are on the two middle levels. This cage setup is an improvement over our previous layouts because we’ve squeezed in an extra level. Here you can see cardboard and plastic boxes lined with shredded unprinted newspaper, a rope walkway, metal ladders, a mini dome (part of a Sputnik) and an egg carton.

It’s so exciting to picture four little ‘scurries’ (as Ninja has dubbed them) exploring this cage!

And finally, the ground floor:

The ground floor

The ground floor

This is where the mealtime action will be. On the left we have two water bottles and a water bowl, strategically placed over the tile so they have to wear down their nails a bit. In the back left corner we’ve left space for their toilet (did you know rats can be toilet trained? Yay!). And on the right is their food bowl under another piece of grey Sputnik (rats like places to hide). Not visible in this pic but hanging from the front right side of the cage is a metal stick used to skewer fruit and veg for the rats. They love the challenge of that kind of treat 🙂

And what about Flea, I hear you ask?

She has her retirement home right below the mansion:

Hello Flea!

Hello Flea!

Since the old lass can’t climb anymore, we’ve limited her quarters to food, water, toilet and sleeping dome. By God’s grace we found the perfect-sized cage for her, which fits on the bottom of the main cage’s stand. This way Flea is kept off the cold floor. All through winter she’s also had her pink blankie to block out draughts and a hot-water bottle under her bed to keep her snug. So though her nose may be out of joint with the newcomers, at least she can’t complain that we love her any less 😉

Rat cages

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I’m sorry peeps. You know, I never intended for this blog to turn into a rat blog!

It’s just that the excitement of getting new pets has been the focus of our lives for the last few weeks, and since I blog about what’s on my heart, lately the ratty love has been overflowing 😛

Anyway, as we wait (two more sleeps!) for Saturday, here’s a post on the rat homes we’ve had in the past and the one we’ve prepared this time around.

The first cage we set up for Scribble and Muesli was this white finch cage:

Our first cage

Our first cage

We used metal baking trays as levels, pull-tied to the cage bars and connected with ladders. It was sparsely decorated, with one dome, one hammock and one swing toy. We were new to fancy rat owning, OK. And besides, it was far superior to the first cage we kept our very first pet-shop rescue ratty (Mizu) in… we never knew better back then, so he lived alone in a fishtank with sawdust 😦 Poor boy 😦

But the upside is that we learn more with each new set of pets. So here’s the cage we set up for Coffee and Flea:

Our second cage

Our second cage

It’s a new black cage, but exactly the same kind and size. The major problem we found with the first cage was that wee, fur and and other interesting deposits got trapped too easily between the pull-ties and metal trays. Also, the trays quickly rusted where the holes had been drilled. So the second cage had cloth levels, as an attempt to have levels that were easy to remove and clean.

As for decor, the dome was still there and they had one main hammock, but we added a terracotta tile to help wear down their nails and often introduced temporary toys such as fruit on a stick or cardboard egg cartons filled with treats. In addition, the girls had more regular runs around our house, which also kept things interesting for them.

Despite that, when we began planning for more rats Ninja and I both wanted to do far more with the cage space and the toys and accessories. As our knowledge has improved, so have our ideas.

For one thing, we’ve had a leap in pet hygiene since I recently purchased F10 SC solution, which is an animal-safe veterinary-quality disinfectant. So the first step was to thoroughly clean the girls’ old cage with F10 and a toothbrush.

The 'new' old cage, freshly disinfected

The ‘new’ old cage, freshly disinfected

Shew. Tedious and time consuming but necessary and satisfying.

And once the cleaning was done, the fun could begin! Here’s the kitted-out version that awaits Moon, Knight, Mishka and Vodka:

Home sweet home

Home sweet home

Looking good eh? More details in my next post 🙂