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!
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…
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!
You know, of course, that my beady little eyes are always hunting for any cute rat-themed merchandise 🙂 Well, recently I’ve added two great finds to my ratty collection, which have helped me reach my Goal #53 (that’s in addition to my beautiful rat teapot and Cheddar soft toy). I don’t foresee an end to this collection, but I think I can happily cross off the goal from my list now.
First, I discovered that despite what I think of Halloween, the supposedly scary day can be useful for bring ratties onto the shelves! I unearthed this black plastic rat in the shops as a leftover from Halloween:
It’s really quite pathetic how they tried to make him all beastly, as though you’d ever find a real black rat with red eyes!
I took pity on the poor critter and brought him home. After a good coat of gesso to prime him nicely…
… I painted him to look like Mishka!
What a difference! It just goes to show: put a fancy coat and a cute face on a rat, and suddenly it’s no longer a horrible scary monster 😉
I still have a bit of work to do to finish off the details on his face and tail, but I have already painted a white spot on the back of his head, just like Mishka’s:
(I call that Mishka’s ‘kissy spot’ because when he hangs his head over a ledge or comes within my reach, that’s the spot I kiss to bits!)
I named this plastic rat Loki, because he was meant to be the dark bad guy, but throw in a bit of shape shifting he’s actually just funny! lol
The other item I snatched up was this wonderful metal coat hook:
Isn’t that perfect?! I found it at Kamers vol geskenke in Pretoria, but you could swear it was made for me.
The whole contraption fits over a standard door, with the ratties’ tails forming the hooks:
Call me simple, but this stuff just makes me really, really happy! 😀
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 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? 🙂
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 🙂