Monthly Archives: July 2007

Why?

Sometimes I have to stop and give my head a good shake … then go back and re-read, and re-read again some things I find.

It was with great sadness that I read a recent eulogy from a rat keeper. The rats appeared to have lead good lives. But, as can sometimes happen, all came down with one illness or another, some attributed to age, some to more serious illnesses … except one!

One of the rats was simply put down!

Yes, I said put down!

I really dislike that phrase … put to sleep (pts on several forums) sounds so much kinder and gentler, but when a rat is by all accounts healthy, happy, and hale there is no reason for it to not be provided a better home … putting it down seems so senseless.

Given the individual wrote with a compassion that appears genuine, I could not bring myself to ask the question in a reply, so I leave the question rhetorically open here. Why?

Rat Bites Rat!

We have been experiencing a great deal of new things with our rats lately. The biggest thing, besides the new litters, is Serena’s biting issues while she was pregnant.

Our girls habitat was rearranged to allow for some privancy and security of Serena’s litter. Mrs. Rattitude and I realized from Serena’s first litter that we needed to tend to housing needs for her. We had set up the MFHXL Ferret cage next to the main girls habitat for Aly (so she wouldn’t have issues with the wire cage and her missing foot).

We also realized that Serena would need to be kept in a “closed door” home when she was birthing and subsequently caring for her litter. Aly did not seem to understand this and just wanted to be “friends” with Serena. Serena would have nothing to do with this idea and she would charge the cage side that Aly was near and try to bite her.

Serena succeeded … twice! Poor little Aly nearly lost a tow on her left front paw. There was lots of blood which we finally stemmed the flow of and we watched for days to make sure it was healing. It finally appeared healed but it looked awkward, yet she seemed adapted to it.

We treated Aly with Neem oil, a homeopathic remedy with quite a few healing properties. Neem can be used as an antiseptic and blood purifier and has several other uses. One “side effect” is its ability to terminate a pregnancy in early stages. There are several studies available on Neem, I am not well versed enough to discuss them here. (Google Neem.) We believe this is why Aly did not have a litter of Gordon’s too.

Serena also tried to bite Sweet Pea (her daughter) when she would get near, as well as her sister Sammy. Serena succeeded in biting Sammy, and fortunately or unfortunately I was right there when it happened. Sammy was climbing the wire cage, but being pregnant was moving slowly. I immediately grabbed for Sammy to get her away from Serena and possibly aggravated the injury Sammy received. Sammy lost a toe on her right paw.

After we moved Serena and her litter into the double FN, we moved Sweet Pea into the wire cage for her to have her litter in. We placed Sammy and Aly into Aly’s home. Things were working out fine.

Did this biting issue stop … no. As much as we want Serena and her female babies to live with the other females, we are beginning to see this may not be possible. We tried a re-introduction of sorts for Serena and Aly. Serena never really seemed to like Aly, but we were hoping it was just the pregnancy. Our hopes were dashed as soon as Serena got near Aly and attacked her with a bite to the back/spine area. I thought I had them separated in time to save Aly any injuries but found out the next day that she had received a bite, which I probably took the brunt of as I nearly had my finger split open when I separated them.

The silver lining to this cloud: Sammy being the new mother to WiiOne and new adoptive mother of Aly realized that Aly’s bite was bad. Before we could decide on which of the local exotic vets to take Aly to, Sammy had re-opened the bite and removed the cyst that had been forming beneath the wound.

We are so proud of Sammy!

Another thing to note is Aly’s poorly healed toe injury from Serena. We discovered one morning alot of blood on the area immediately outside Sammy and Aly’s home (their’s is the only door left open for any period of time). We found Sammy, she was fine. We found WiiOne, she was fine, too. We found Aly, she was missing the toe that had healed poorly. We don’t know who removed it, but it appeared to be cleanly removed closer to the main paw than the original injury site. Aly is fine now, fully recovered and a going concern!

You Have How Many Rats?

They are accidents … really, they truly are.

Let’s start with Serena. If I haven’t mentioned before how determined she is, let me tell you now … this girl has a serious stubborn determination! We learned a little too late that we could not have both male and female habitats “open-door”. We thought we had the whole situation sorted out … boys on one side of the room, girls on the other. Well, we were wrong!

Best Mrs. Rattitude and I can figure this out is Serena jumped from the girls habitat to the chair, then to the bed, then through the open door on the second level of the Ferret Nation cage the boys live in.

When I woke in the morning and made my usual check on the rats, there was Serena with a train of male rats. Now, I’m no rat breeder, far from it … I’m not even well read on the subject, yet but it sure seems that several of the boys had their turn with Serena.

Serena gave birth to 16 babies on June 22, 2007. She “lost” one each of the first three days, but there are now 13 healthy, rambunctious little rat babies running around with her in the double FN.

Next, Gordon’s litters … yes, litter with an “s”. Gordon not to be outdone by his cagemates and unfortunately to our chagrin found his way from the boys FN to the girls habitat. Yes, hindsight being 20/20 we should have learned. We definitely know better now! Serena was already pregnant so I guess he didn’t bother her, but Sammy, Sweet Pea and little Aly were not.

Sammy’s litter. Sammy did not have a very good preganancy. Our best guess is it was on the long side, about 23 days and her litter was “small” with only one surviving. We named the survivor WiiOne … or WeeOne … spelling is still up in the air. WiiOne was born June 29, 2007.

Next, Sweet Pea … did I mention hindsight being 20/20 … we’re not positive but Gordon made at least three trips to the girls habitat in a short period of time. We actually saw Gordon being launched out the door of the boys habitat, by Frank, and watched as he casually trotted over to the girls habitat and climbed up an intricate path to their living area. I honestly believe they were working together on this and also believe that Gordon would find his way back to the boys habitat when he was ready to. We didn’t wait to find out, we scooped up Gordon and put him in with the other boys and put the FN doors back on the cage.

Sweet Pea gave birth to nine babies on June 30, 2007 … her litter is near to perfect. They always stay in the nest, and they never cry. They appear to be quite healthy and have strong apetites, not quite as energetic as Serena’s litter, but we are still quite pleased given how young Sweet pea is (about 3 months).

We were very concerned for Sammy and Sweet Pea once we realized they were pregnant. Sammy for her age of close to one year and being her first (and only) litter. Sweet Pea again for her age being so young. We feel very fortunate that both mothers are doing just fine. Sammy had us a little worried at first but WiiOne is doing great and Sammy has taken Aly as an adopted daughter too.

BTW, Aly did not get pregnant … or better said, did not have a litter. Whether or not she was pregnant is a subject for another topic …

It’s About Time …

Life is much too busy at times …

… and once again I will go into a rambling update.

The boys are now housed in a double FN and in a triple FN. Frank and Jeremy have the double. Teetu, Inky, Gordon and Frank, Dash and Bruiser have the triple. We expect to add more soon, but that’s another topic … The boys were separated due to constant bickering. We believe we found the best combination versus living space with our current set up.

The girls have been moved into different housing as well. Serena now has a double FN. Sweet Pea is living in the large wire pet store cage. Sammy and Aly are living in a My First Home Extra-Large Ferret cage. There will be additions here, too … The girls are living apart for much the same reason, but we think we know what their fighting was all about (with reference to other topic *wink, wink*)

We also felt if best to move the boys into another room, away from the girls. I’ve read in several places that some rat keepers have no issues with males and females in separate cages being kept in the same room, but it sure has quieted down with all our rats since we moved the boys into their own room. I guess it all depends on the rats and the rooms.

We’re looking at trying a new block food as well. With all the mouths we felt it was time to look into block food as well as our homemade diet. If the blocks are successful, we may phase out or simply use the homemade diet as a supplement.

While I’m thinking about it … Ferret Nation (FN) cages are exactly that, Ferret cages. Please let me say that these are great cages and serve well as rat habitats, but you have to be careful and work with your rats so they understand not to slip through the bars. Males can get through the bars at least up to 12 weeks and even a female adult will get through the bars, granted she must be determined and let me tell you, Serena is one determined rat!

That’s the basics … on to the next topic …