Whiskers, Nails, and Ears

Baby rats are so precious to look upon.

It has been just over four days into their lives. We made our usual nightly head count and nest check. The babies were doing fine. Serena keeps them mostly on the hard surface of the bottom of the cage surrounded by a myriad of nesting materials. We recently purchased some small Easter stuffed animals, human baby sized, for our rats. Serena has even added the stuffed bunny to her nest. They are both very leery of the lamb. The boys got the ducky.

We decided to start socializing the babies. We tried to get some pictures, too, but the camera or our skills at using it have not been cooperating of late.

We picked up the babies and I held them in the palm of my hand. I had washed my hand in hot water to insure they were warm for the babies, as well as rubbing my hands vigorously together just before handling them. They start to squirm about so I used my other hand to make sure none could fall out. It is awe inspiring to see these tiny little lives being held in the palm of my hand knowing they will grow up and one will barely be able to be safely held in one hand.

Mrs. Rattitude ran for the camera and we tried to get some clear pictures. Fuzzy pictures we can do, no problem, clear pictures are another thing altogether. We traded places. Mrs. Rattitude held the babies and I tried to take some pictures. In my opinion, I think it’s best I stick to handling the babies.

We did see the babies are developing some fine details. Their whiskers, nearly a translucent white, are about a half inch long. Their toe nails are all perfectly visible. Their ears, although we could see where they are, appear to be “plastered” to their heads. Their markings are becoming more defined. The two “dark” babies are slightly darker, and the “light” baby is starting to show some darkening across its back.

We held the babies for about fifteen minutes. Serena and Sammy were in the living room again. We will be working up to longer periods of time handling and socializing the babies. This is one of the most important aspects of new born pet rats. We want them to get to know us. We do not want to upset Serena too much with rearranging her nest every night and moving her babies around, too.

Before we return Serena and Sammy to the girls habitat we do our best to put everything back to the way it was before we brought out the girls to play. Serena is becoming more tolerant of our investigations.

The first few days of a new litter, at least with this experience, can be an emotional and sometimes troubling process. As I see it, we have done as well as nature allowed, and I am confident to say we now have three baby rats that live with us, and in a few more days we will see more developments and details of who they are.

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