Tag Archives: Russian Blue

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!

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Handsome young bucks

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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 😀

Cuddles in the cold weather

Cuddles in the cold weather

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!

Moon

Moon

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

Knight

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

Mishka

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

Vodka

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? 🙂

Teddy bear

Teddy bear

Neutering pet rats

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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.

My boys

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…

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 – 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 😉

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 – Black lightning-blazed vari-berk

Moon – Black lightning-blazed vari-berk

Knight – Black Berkshire

Knight – Black Berkshire

Mishka – Russian Blue striped roan dumbo

Mishka – Russian Blue striped roan dumbo

Vodka – Russian Blue striped roan

Vodka – 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 🙂

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

Ah, now we see!

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The baby ratties‘ eyes opened this past week! I told you they just get cuter by the day… :mrgreen:

This is what their breeder had to say about them at this age:

Now with their eyes open they start to explore their cage a little bit. This gives their poor moms a hard time as they still want to keep the babies bundled in the nest; while she is collecting the babies one at a time to carry back to the nest, the ones she has packed back in are passing her on their way out to continue exploring!

Hahaha! 😀

Of course you’ll want to see pictures. But first, I must publish a quick erratum: Ninja told me that his black Berkie isn’t Night – his name is Knight. OK. So now we know 😉

And now for the pics!

Here are Knight (in front) and Moon at 15 days old.

Moon and Knight 1

Their little eyes aren’t fully opened yet, which makes them look adorably sleepy!

Moon and Knight 2

Here you can see Moon’s beautiful blaze. I also like his gentle expression. But it looks like he can be playful too!

Moon and Knight 3

I love how ratties always need to be close to other ratties 🙂

Moon and Knight 4

And here are my boys, also at 15 days of age. Say hello to Mishka and Vodka:

Vodka and Mishka 1

You can see Mishka’s big round dumbo ears quite clearly in some of these pics. Here he is striking a pose…

Vodka and Mishka 2

Don’t these ratties just look so clean and shiny? 🙂 And that beautiful grey-blue colouring goes well with the snowy white for a truly Russian-themed pair!

Vodka and Mishka 5

It’s an overload of cuteness and I am so excited to meet them! They look infinitely cuddly 😛

Vodka and Mishka 4

It’s amazing to think that only two short weeks ago, these little guys were helpless, hairless pinkies. Ratties’ lives are so short, so I’m glad to enjoy each stage of their development.

Our old girl Flea is getting noticeably older now. She’s our first ratty to survive into old age with us, so it’s a new experience. While it’s always sad to see the slow decline of an animal that you’ve loved, there are positive sides to her ageing too. The best part is how much she asks for affection and wants to be close to us. She was never a ‘lap ratty’ until her op and of course the loss of her sister, but since then she spends much longer with us outside the cage before showing signs she wants to go back.

We are doing all we can to keep her warm, loved and well-fed, and we hope she’ll keep going strong to see her 2nd birthday at the end of August and the arrival of the new boys a few weeks later.

Precious old girl

Precious old girl

Booking the boys

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Sorry to keep you waiting… but here they are: pics of the baby boys at 10 days old!

If you thought the pinkies were cute and the parents were pretty, you’ll love these fuzzies.

Boys from Litter 1

Boys from Litter 1

Those were the males born to Count Fleet and Salvia. And these little guys are the boys from Salix and Juniper:

Boys from Litter 2

Boys from Litter 2

Such silky babies! I’d take them all home if I could 😉 But of course Ninja and I had to pick just two each…

My choice was easy. I’d been hoping for at least one dumbo-eared boy and one Russian Blue or Russian Silver boy. So I immediately booked the two Russian Blue brothers from Litter 1, one of which is dumbo eared! 😀

My boys

My boys

Ninja’s choice was just as instant: he picked the black Berkshire and one of the lightning-blazed boys from Litter 2:

Ninja's boys

Ninja’s boys

Squeeeeeee! 🙂

And of course we’ve already picked out names for them. Since mine are Russian Blue rats, I wanted Russian names… so the standard-eared boy is going to be Vodka and the dumbo will be Mishka (meaning ‘little bear’ or ‘teddy bear’ in Russian). Mishka is my first ratty to break away from my usual choice of ‘foodie’ names for my rats (Muesli, Coffee, Vodka), but I like the way it works with Vodka.

Ninja immediately dubbed his boys Night (the black Berkshire) and Moon (the blazed boy; if you look closely you can see a sickle-moon shape in the white blaze on his head). I did warn Ninja, though, that I’ll probably end up taking liberties with those names, because I find two-syllabled pet names are easier to call out.

But anyway, are these guys nunu or what? :mrgreen:

Meet the parents…

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As you may have guessed, our new rats are not just ‘any old rodents’ :mrgreen:

They’re Wheatfields bubs, sourced from one of the best-loved pedigreed-rat breeders in South Africa. And I’m not the only one who thinks so.

Among the members of our lively South African rat club, Wheatfields Rattery is known for raising beautiful, healthy and exceptionally well-socialised fancy rats. Everyone speaks fondly of their ‘WF kids’. Our first male pet rats, Scribble and Muesli, were Wheatfields boys too.

So it’s with that as a backdrop that I present to you the parents of our new furballs… *drumroll please*

Litter 1

This beautiful boy is Count Fleet, dad to the kittens of Litter 1. He’s a handsome black roan badger husky, with those huge dumbo ears that I’ve been longing to see in in a rat of my own 🙂

WF Count Fleet

WF Count Fleet

Count Fleet was mated to this gentle-looking Russian Blue striped roan girl, who has standard ears. Her name is Salvia, and isn’t she stunning? I’m a big fan of that soft silvery-blue colouring.

WF Salvia

Litter 2

You’d be forgiven for thinking it, but no, this isn’t our current girl Flea!

Meet Salix, the father of Litter 2. He’s a fine glossy black Berkshire gentleman with standard ears, and apparently a lovely personality to match.

WF Salix

WF Salix

And last but not least, this pretty lass is Juniper. She’s a black striped roan, also with standard ears, and mom to the bubs of Litter 2. That little round tummy of hers is just begging to be kissed! 😉

WF Juniper

WF Juniper

With such a varied lineage it was anyone’s guess as to what would turn up in the litters, but when we saw the resulting boys, we were smitten…

Stay tuned for the next installment: choosing and booking the boys! 😀