Just when I thought Serena was settling in and accepting her role as new mother in a closed door cage environment she proved just how determined she can be.
It was just past the 48 hour mark for the rat babies. Serena apparently not satisfied with living in a cage with the door closed had set out to fix the situation. I was in the living room when I kept hearing thumping noises coming from the bedroom. I went to investigate.
Having 6 male rats, you just can never know when they will decide its time to display some testosterone, or get into a boxing match, or practice their rat-fu. It wasn’t the boys.
We also have four cats. Boo and Roo, being brothers, tend to get into wrestling matches from time to time. Usually this happens in the dining room but sometimes they chase each other into the bedroom. No, not them. Cinder was asleep on her pillow. Sony was curled up in her box. It wasn’t the cats.
That left the girls. So I start looking for Sammy first and found her on the platform outside the cage, sniffing at the back corner. I had left the lights turned off and was searching by the daylight filtering in through the bedroom window blinds. Then there was a commotion in the cage. I heard food being flung out onto the floor of the cage. I had moved a food bowl from an upper level to the bottom of the cage earlier in the day. Then I saw the real issue.
Serena had managed to chew through the corner of the cage bottom and was just in the process of squeezing through the hole she had made. There have been chew marks in the cage bottom for months. We never thought much of it, except to consider a more sturdy (read: all metal) cage later on. This cage is a simple pet store cage with a plastic bottom and powder coated wire top section. Serena, on the other paw, realized quite well that this would eventually be a means of exit to exploit, and exploit it she did.
She quickly found one of Sammy’s treats and headed back to the cage door, which was still closed. This didn’t sit well with her and I quickly opened the door. Serena scampered inside and I closed the door behind her. I thought she had settled down and was content to prove she could escape. I left her be for an hour or so then checked up on the girls again.
Serena (or maybe Sammy) had expanded the hole further and she had obviously been out and about, especially since she was staring down at me from the top level of the girls habitat. This made a decision we needed to make much easier: just leave the door open to the cage. Samantha seemed to be curious about the squeaks coming from Serena’s nest but was doing nothing more than distant sniffing.
Later in the evening Mrs. Rattitude and I made a visual check on the babies. We had Serena and Samantha out for some play time on the living room sofa. We lay out some blankets and pillows for them to burrow in and they have a great time poking around.
As the girls where enjoying their free time we carefully pulled out the cage and took the top off. We gently moved the bedding out of the way to find three babies, still pink and squirmy. They appeared to have been separated into a single and a pair, about a mother rat distance apart. We put the single with the pair and put the nest back together.
Serena appeared to be building a fortified encampment around her babies this morning, or maybe I’m just reading too much into all the nesting materials she keeps adding from around the habitat. I just want to believe her motherly instincts have just been slow to kick in.
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