Tag Archives: Rodents

Quick pics

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Hello there! It feels like an age since I last posted here… life’s been getting in the way a bit lately ūüėČ Summer has hit Johannesburg at last and the heatwave has¬†been¬†surprisingly draining. Ninja and I have been¬†very¬†busy with everything from work to trying to get fit for my first 5km run.¬†My to-do list is overflowing, and often that’s meant that blogging drops down a rung¬†or two. Sigh.¬†I do miss my days at home when I was a full-time blogger, baker and bookworm!

Anyway,¬†for now I have a moment to share a few recent pics of our ratties. They’ve been here for almost¬†a month now and they’ve taken over the home :mrgreen:

Open that cage door and a mass exodus ensues

Open that cage door and a mass escape is inevitable

I’ve tried taking a few nice photos of them and have entered a few into a competition hosted by our rat club ‚Ästwhich means I can cross off Goal #64: Send in a photograph to a contest ūüôā Would be so great if one of my shots got picked! But for the most part I have dozens of not-quite-awesome-yet-still-quite-cute pics…

Knight greeting Robert the Rat

Knight greeting Robert the Rat

It’s not easy getting good pictures when the rats¬†are on the go all the time, so¬†I also try to catch them unawares for sweet sleeping shots. Here are some of my favourites:

Moon and Knight: heads hanging over the edge of the cage level

Moon and Knight: heads hanging over the edge of the cage level

Moon: rolled into a ball

Moon: rolled into a ball

Knight: absolute innocence

Knight: absolute innocence

So far it seems our first impressions of the boys were pretty accurate. Their personalities are quite distinct and a joy to discover.

Moon (nicknamed Rover)¬†is still the¬†curious adventurer, who’s often awake when the other three are asleep and vice versa. He’s gentle and fast but in some cases still a little unsure of his place. You know how in big families you¬†often find the one quiet kid who’s easily overlooked in the mayhem? Sometimes I think Moon is that kid, though his odd circadian rhythms do make it easier for us to give him special attention ūüôā

Knight (nicknamed Tiny) is still¬†very sweet; he’s bold with his brothers but gentle and trusting with humans. He only has one fault: he is sooooo squeaky!! He squeaks for anything and everything, be it a¬†thorough grooming from his brothers or an unexpected poke from a playful human. It’s definitely not pain related ‚Äď it’s all attitude and noisy protest from the baby of the bunch ūüėõ

Mishka and Vodka with rawhide shoes

Mishka and Vodka with rawhide shoes

Vodka (nicknamed Voddy ‚Äď I know, it’s lame, but sometimes the good¬†nicks only come after a while)¬†is the bright spark: I’ve been teaching the rats to leap from the open cage onto my shoulders when I ask them to, and Vodka was the first to catch on and make the jump. All the boys know two commands already: ‘Up’ for standing on their hind legs to receive a treat, and ‘Jump’ for leaping onto me or whichever surface I tap.

Mishka with a banana chippie

Mishka with a banana chippie

Of all our lovely rats, Mishka consistently steals the show. Not only is he the biggest and boldest; he’s also the only dumbo so he keeps catching our eye with expressions we’re not used to after our succession of standard-eared ratties. My friends¬†go all mushy when meeting him and even Ninja¬†admits there’s no denying Mishka’s charisma.

As for me, well… this boy is rapidly achieving ‘heart rat’ status. I always said Muesli was my heart rat, as he was my first, but I’m learning that the heart is big enough to hold more than one special furry¬†object of affection ūüėÄ

I think what gets me about Mishka is that he has different sides to his personality. Ninety percent of the time he’s the big forceful alpha rat who ‘power grooms’ his cagemates and shoves human hands aside to get to what he wants. But then there are those odd moments when he suddenly¬†turns¬†sensitive. He’s really earned his nickname of Teddy Bear.

Mishka's heart-melting look

Mishka’s heart-melting look

The pic above was taken after I’d disciplined Mishka for nipping my fingers instead of taking the food from them. From the look on his face you’d swear I’d whipped him with a cane or something! All I did was squeak at him and tap him on the nose (trying to¬†mimic a ratty way of saying ‘That’s enough!’)

Well, it crushed him. He backed up immediately and shot me this devastated look. Flattening his ears against his head, he dashed upstairs and leapt into his Sputnik. And there he stayed, refusing to be comforted or bribed with treats; just¬†giving me the ‘Mommy how could you?’ look for over an hour. Oh my goodness! How to make¬†a rat mommy feel like rubbish! LOL

So that’s the kind of thing that’s been keeping me busy… but I do hope to have more opportunities to blog more regularly. I’m itching to bake something new or take a day trip or do something creative again. As soon as I do, you can be sure I’ll share it here ūüôā

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Paperwork, pedigrees and pics

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So! We’ve signed the contracts for our new boys¬†and received their pedigrees. Only four sleeps left till we fetch our newbies from the airport! :mrgreen:

The contract is a standard one that all proper breeders will require prospective rat owners to sign. I guess it must be similar to contracts from breeders of other pedigreed animals.¬†It’s simply an agreement between Ninja and I and Wheatfields Rattery, to ensure that:

  • we don’t breed with our new bubs
  • the rats can be confiscated if we don’t care for them properly, and
  • the rats must never be sold to a pet shop ‚Äď if for any reason we can’t keep them anymore, they must go back to the breeder.

The pedigrees are what you would expect: documents showing the ratties’ ancestry as far back as their great-great grandparents. This time on the¬†pedigrees, the breeder¬†used the names we’ve called the rats, which is cool and very official¬†ūüėČ

Today the breeder took the boys to the¬†lady who’ll be the one arranging the flight. Before they left their only known home, though, they had one last photoshoot:

Moon ‚Äď Black lightning-blazed vari-berk

Moon ‚Äď Black lightning-blazed vari-berk

Knight ‚Äď Black Berkshire

Knight ‚Äď Black Berkshire

Mishka ‚Äď Russian Blue striped roan dumbo

Mishka ‚Äď Russian Blue striped roan dumbo

Vodka ‚Äď Russian Blue striped roan

Vodka ‚Äď Russian Blue striped roan

The breeder says they’re unstoppably active at this stage, which is going to be a major change for us now that we’re used to the quiet slow pace of lady Flea-Flea ūüôā

It’s also interesting to see how my boys are starting to fade already. Some rats are very fast faders, while other coat colours and genes¬†hardly fade at all. I hope they’ll still keep some of their beautiful silvery colouring though!

Anyway, so it’s been a great journey for me taking you through this series of posts on the process of ordering new ratties. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have. Little remains for Ninja and I to do other than to thoroughly clean their future home, prepare some welcome-home snacks, and wait to hear what time their flight from Cape Town should arrive in Joburg.

Till then, have a sunny week!

Zest

The waiting list

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After much discussion and debate, Ninja and I have finally decided on a way forward with our rat owning. As I’ve mentioned before, we were concerned that Flea might get lonely being an only rat. It really is preferable to keep rats in pairs or groups, but of course life isn’t always as clean-cut as that…

Flea enjoying some oranges (Please note: never feed oranges to male rats!)

At first we¬†considered getting a neutered male of Flea’s age to join her as a companion.¬†After inquiring¬†with¬†our fellow¬†rat club members and discussing it at length, however,¬†we realised we may as well begin the process of getting the new young male rats we were hoping to get one day when Coffee and Flea had passed away.

And so we’ve taken the first step in purchasing a pedigreed fancy rat (or four!) :mrgreen: We’ve contacted a reputable breeder (the same lady who raised our amazing agouti badger husky rats,¬†Scribble and Muesli) and asked to be placed on the waiting list for four boys from two litters she has planned ‚Äď two boys¬†each for Ninja and I.

We feel ready, after having owned five rats in total so far (I’m also counting Mizu, our very first rat from years ago; a little petshop rescue who opened my eyes to the joys of rat owning), to now have more than one rat each.¬†No doubt it’ll¬†be quite¬†an adventure! ūüôā

The idea is that we’ll get four young boys and keep them separate from Flea at first. Then we hope to have at least two of them neutered as soon as they’re the right age (between 2 and 6 months old, I believe). Neutering has several benefits apart from allowing males to live with females, including avoiding testicular cancer and reducing excesses of aggression. Often it keeps the boys’ fur softer as well, with a chance of a bit less oily¬†‘buck grease’ forming on their backs.

Once the month-long ‘safety window’ has passed for the neutered males to be rendered infertile, we can begin the process of introducing them to Flea. If all goes well with that and once our budget has recovered, we’ll hopefully get the other two males neutered so we call put all our ratties together. It’s something we’ve never done before, but many other rat owners have done it successfully, so we’re going to give it¬†a try. At least then our old lady¬†Flea will have some¬†toy boys companions to cuddle with ūüėÄ

It’s all¬†sooooo exciting! And I thought it might be interesting to blog about it as the process unfolds, for those of you who are curious or who may still be a bit wide eyed at the idea of going to so much trouble for rats! ūüėČ