Tag Archives: Scribble

Rest in peace faithful Flea


Yesterday¬†we had our old Flea put to sleep ūüė¶ Ninja and I couldn’t bear it anymore to see her struggling so much; the smallest movement became a flailing effort to our arthritic old ratty. We felt we’d done everything we could,¬†and there comes a point where treatment becomes more stressful for a pet than a peaceful passing would be.

Baby Flea in Ninja's pocket

Baby Flea in Ninja’s pocket

Afterwards we took her to my parents’ garden, to bury her near the spots where Muesli, Scribble and Coffee were laid to rest. Of all the options available to pet owners for saying goodbye to their furry friends ‚Äď be it cremation, burial or leaving the body with the vet ‚Äď I’ve always felt that burial provides the most honour and closure.

Young Flea in a basket

Young Flea in a basket

Looking back on her 60-odd rat years, I can see how this fancy rat lived up to her proper name, Faith. First, when she was tiny, Ninja named her because she seemed to need a good dose of faith to venture out into the world. Later when she became comfortable roaming around our home we called her Leap of Faith, because she was never afraid to cover great distances in one bound… just like a small black¬†flea, of course ūüôā

Old Flea in the same basket

Old Flea in the same basket

Much later, after her tumour removal and the loss of her sister, she continued to live up to her real name, fighting bravely to heal after such an invasive op. And finally, just before her second birthday as she began ageing rapidly, her faithful little personality still led her to wake us up every morning for breakfast, even if she could only just drag her tired legs around.

Flea enjoying sweet papaya

Flea enjoying sweet papaya

Another thing that I loved about Flea was that she always seemed ‚Äď if one can say this of a rat ‚Äď grateful for the smallest thing. Towards the end when I had to pre-chew all her meals and wipe her face with a cloth because she could no longer groom herself, she would always brux and boggle happily in thanks afterwards. Ninja and I got to have many very sweet moments with the old lady as she cuddled with¬†and slept by us for long periods.

Faith ~ 25 Aug 2011 to 11 Sept 2013

Faith ~ 25 Aug 2011 to 11 Sept 2013

Rest in peace our sweet old Flea. You were the softest ratty I’ve ever kissed and I loved your beautiful fluffy and colourful¬†coat. You showed us the very best side of girl ratties and left us with so many funny and heartwarming memories.

I’d like to share with you a poem that was given to us by the vet yesterday (it’s marked as anonymous so I don’t know who to attribute it to). It was a blessing to me and I hope it’ll bring comfort to you if you’ve also had to make that tough decision to say goodbye to a furbaby. (But I warn you, keep the tissues handy!)

If it should be…

If it should be that I grow frail and weak

And pain should keep me from my sleep

Then you must do what must be done

For me, the last battle can’t be won

You will be sad ‚Äď I understand

Don’t let your grief then stay

For this day, more than all the rest

Your love and friendship stands the test

We’ve had so many happy years

What is to come can hold no fears

You’d not want me to suffer, so

When the time comes, please let me go

We’ve been so close, we two

Through these years

Don’t let your heart

Hold any tears

Take me where my needs they’ll tend

Only stay with me until the end

Hold me firm and speak to me

Until my eyes no longer see

I know in time you too will see

It is a kindness you do to me

Although my tail its last has waved

From pain and suffering I’ve been saved

Don’t grieve that it should be you

Who has to decide this thing to do

Rat cages


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 ūüėõ

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 ūüė¶ Poor boy ūüė¶

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 ūüôā

Rat coats: fading and rusting


In response to¬†Shiotadesu’s question about fading coat colours… Berkshire¬†rats (like Flea)¬†don’t fade¬†so much as¬†‘rust’. Here’s a quick pic of Flea (fleeing from her party, as it were!) where you can see this clearly. It almost looks like I’ve photo-edited together¬†pics of an¬†orange rat and a¬†brown rat! ūüėÄ

Flea's technicolour dreamcoat

Flea’s technicolour dreamcoat

Flea’s¬†coat has become¬†a great source of amusement to me as she’s aged, because it seems as though every few months she grows a new patch in a different colour. She has pitch black in the places where she was shaved for her op, rusty red on her bum, white on her tummy, dark¬†brown on her head, pinky-grey around her nose¬†and now patches of grey¬†on her shoulders! Funny little furball ūüôā

Siamese rats, like our¬†Coffee, always fade over time, so that eventually only their Siamese ‘points’ (ears, nose, ankles and tail) are dark. Coffee was a Siamese hooded, so while her hoodie faded completely, the thick stripe on her back didn’t. These pics show the progression nicely:

Coffee as a teeny bub: dark Siamese markings

Coffee as a teeny bub: dark Siamese markings

Much lighter (but still visible) hoodie markings

Much lighter (but still visible) hoodie markings

The unusual dark back she was left with (plain Siamese don't have this)

The unusual dark back she was left with (plain Siamese don’t have this)

(That last pic makes me smile… she was such a hooligan, haha!)

And finally, a quick look at our previous boys, Scribble and Muesli. They were both agouti badger huskies, and they faded quite slowly.

Shortly after we got them: dark husky markings

Shortly after we got them: dark husky markings

Over a year later: patchy fading

Over a year later: patchy fading

K, that’s that for now ūüôā

A tribute to our old furbabies


Coffee and Flea weren’t our first ratties, although they are the only females we’ve had. Before the girls, we had the amazing pleasure of living with Scribble and Muesli, our squishy agouti¬†husky rats. This is a little tribute to them…

Our beautiful boys, Muesli and Scribble


Scribble was Ninja’s rat,¬†named after a beatboxing technique.¬†As he grew we came to call him ScribblyBall, BallyBall and Mr Grumpy ūüôā He became an enormous rat, weighing 700 g at the end of his life!

Like most husky rats, Scribbly started out with¬†dark markings¬†and faded over time. Here’s a picture of him¬†taken in the first week he came to us. He was little enough to balance on the plastic¬†food bowl without tipping it over.

Scribble when he was still a small ball

We flew Scribble and Muesli up to Johannesburg from their breeder in Cape Town. To this day when we tell people that, they can’t believe their ears. ‘You would fly a rat across the country?!’ But people do it all the time for bigger pedigreed animals, so why not for our bubs, who were just as pedigreed? Jo’burg has a¬†conspicuous lack of official breeders.

Anyway, one of the strangest things we’ve noticed while owning rats is¬†the way they seem to reflect some of our personality quirks. For example, both Scribble and Ninja’s current rat, Flea, are similar to him: they’re both peaceful, quiet homebodies who love their food and make relatively few ripples in the pond ūüėČ

Big boy

Big boy

Scribbly was a sweet boy, but he was known as grumpy because he preferred being in his cage to exploring. When he was out on a run, he’d always make it very clear when he wanted to go home. And sometimes he had a look in his eye that seemed to say he was just tolerating our fussing until he could go back to eating and sleeping!

Cute Scribble

Cute Scribble

But he was also an affectionate ratty, and loved to nibble our hands gently when we stroked and scritched him ūüôā He outlived his brother Muesli by a few months, and was still with us when we brought Coffee and Flea home. Scribble developed a growth of some sort on his shoulder, but he didn’t make it through the op when the vet wanted to remove it ūüė¶ We buried our big boy next to his brother in my parents’ garden, and we still miss his solid presence in our lives.



There’s no doubt about it:¬†Muesli was my ‘heart rat’. I absolutely adored that ball of trouble, and yet in the end I learnt that I should have loved him even more…

Muesli Mousie

My Muesli Mousie

I called this little guy many nicknames, including Muesli Mouse, Silver Surfer¬†and¬†Kamikaze Rat. In the pic above, you can see his size relative to a cornflake he’s eating.¬†He stayed a bit smaller than Scribble all along, weighing 600 g when full grown.¬†Like Scribbly, he was an agouti badger¬†husky rat, and¬†his coat also faded over time.

Muesli was action, trouble, mischief. He had a gleam in his eye that made him seem like he was always up for adventure. Of the two, he was by far the most affectionate rat ‚Äď both towards his human family and his big brother. He was forever leaping before he looked, squeezing into spots he couldn’t get out of, squeaking his opinion and living life to the full. At one point he went blind in one eye, but it didn’t affect him at all. (That’s where he earned the nickname Silver Surfer, because the blind eye looked like it had a silver disc in it.)

Muesli looking sneaky, nibbling a rice cake in my desk drawer

Muesli looking sneaky, nibbling a rice cake in my desk drawer

Oddly enough,¬†Muesli and any my current girl¬†Coffee seem to reflect certain characteristics of my personality too, just as Ninja’s do for him. Muesli and Coffee have a lot in common: they’re both very affectionate, very noisy, cheeky¬†and ‘opinionated’, slightly cooked in the head (falling off things, not looking where they’re going, and generally being ridiculously uncoordinated), beautiful¬†and utterly lovable ūüôā

Muesli is the ratty in my Gravatar

Muesli is the ratty in my Gravatar

But remembering Muesli always brings me pain as well as joy. The pain comes from the fact that I’m sure if I had known better at the time, I could have saved him from his horrible death. With each set of rats, we learn more and more about their proper care. And if I’d known more about mycoplasmosis at the time, I might have reacted quicker to the sudden deterioration in my boy’s health. If only¬†I’d read up more; if only I’d rushed to the vet sooner; if only I’d known about the many preventative measures we could have taken; if, if, if…

It broke my heart to have my precious boy put to sleep, but I vowed then that I’d learn as much as I can for each new set of ratties, and that I’d never again¬†dither so long before going to the vet. We buried our beautiful Kamikaze Rat in my parents’ garden, and will never forget him.


Loving ratties is not always easy. They’re considered exotic pets, so there’s a greater responsibility to understand them before owning them. It’s been a learning process for us. Sometimes funny, sometimes painful.¬†Not always easy. But definitely worth it.