Chestnut & Conker

July 2009 - March 2010

Our two boy rats, Chestnut and Conker

Our two new boys

We were planning not to add any more rats to our little family, but as usual things didn’t go according to plan. It all started with our sweet guy Pippin, who was struggling on his own after the loss of his brother Pepper. Pippin had gotten very down and wouldn’t eat or drink and his health had deteriorated rapidly. No matter what we did for him, we could not make up for the loss of his brother. It was obvious the only thing left to do was get him a new companion, so we headed to the RSPCA…

Two new arrivals

Two new arrivals

Conker (back) and Chestnut

Conker (back) and Chestnut

We had last been to the RSPCA back in March, when we had gone and collected our little girl, Tulip. There had been several other cages of rats there at the time one housed a pair of boys called Sox & Sneaker. One of the boys, Sox, had come to the bars to have a look at us and I had told him that ‘he was very beautiful and if I had the room I’d take him home with me right then.’ As it turned out I got my wish, because when we went back, four months later, Sox & Sneaker were still waiting for a new home. While it is very sad that the poor guys had to wait so long for a new home, at least I got to keep my promise to Sox.

Sox & Sneaker are very timid little guys who had been abandoned at a police station. During their time with the RSPCA they had been hand fed treats, but the staff their don’t have the time to handle and play with the rats, especially nervous ones, like we do at home. So, although the boys have been well cared for they are very nervous about being handled and coming out of their cage.

To make them part of our family we renamed our new boys Chestnut & Conker, and what a pair of little nuts they are. Not having the best start in life has taken its toll on our new guys, but we are going to spend lots of time with them and give them plenty of opportunities to run and play out of their cage.

Because of Pippin’s poor condition we have put our new arrivals straight in with him. Chestnut and Conker seem thrilled with their new brother and are giving him lots of attention and cuddling him while he sleeps. We can only cross our finger for now and hope that two new cuddly friends will be enough to help Pippin through the loss of his brother.

Some new brothers for Chestnut and Conker

After the very sad loss of our ratties Pepper & Pippin, we couldn’t face keeping Chestnut and Conker in their old cage in their old room. It was too much of a sad reminder of our much loved boys who had left us far too quickly, so we decided to move them.

Our three boys Apple, Bramble and Lime are very friendly rats, if a little bonkers and while they do have their health problems we know from their sisters that it is nothing contagious. Plus with Chestnut and Conker being so timid and shy and having trouble understand that they are allowed to leave their cage to run about and play, we think it will do them good to have some confident and energetic brothers.

Chestnut and Conker meeting their new brothers

Chestnut and Conker meeting their new brothers

Apple is obviously boss rat over his brothers and he made a little show of puffing himself up and being all aggressive when he first met Chestnut and Conker, but they weren’t very impressed and it all died down fairly quickly, which meant the guys were all able to move in together very quickly.

So far everything is working out well. Chestnut and Conker obviously haven’t been handled very much, if at all, and as expected having three new brothers who are happy to come charging out of their cage and run around is helping htem find their confidence. It will take time for them to trust Derek and me and get used to being picked up and cuddled, but for now we are happy to see them start exploring their new surroundings. They are even starting to show a bit of interest in us when we walk into the room, yes they want food, but it is a start :-).

Nap-time munchies

Silly Chestnut

Silly Chestnut

Concerns for Conker

Our little black hooded rat, Conker, peeking out from under a cushionSince he joined our family Conker has been doing really well settling in, getting used to Derek and I and just learning what fun it is to come out and have a run-around. He’s a really lovely boy, though he did develop one naughty habit of nipping Derek’s feet while he was out playing. We were really starting to enjoy our new guys, even with the sad loss of Apple and Lime, Chestnut and Conker were very sweet and entertaining.

Sadly a few weeks ago we noticed a change in Conker, he suddenly stopped climbing and eating and he had become wobbly on his feet. We dug out the baby food and started feeding him, while he was a bit clumsy eating it, he still managed to tuck it away.

Conker’s condition has improved slightly, though he can’t manage to eat solids and seems to have problems coordinating his front paws. When he washes he tends to roll over, and he has a very short attention span and is easily distracted, which can be a problem when we are feeding him. Despite all this he seems really happy, I don’t think he is suffering in any way, mentally or physically, he is just a bit clumsy and confused.

Chestnut is still doing well. He has a strange respiratory problem, which he’s had since we got him, he can get a bit out of breath when he gets excited. We’ve tried him on Baytril, which had no effect, but as with Conker he is bright and happy. We are keeping a close eye on him to make sure his condition doesn’t deteriorate. Both boys, and Bramble, seem to be enjoying all the baby food and attention they are getting. So, for now, if they are happy then so are Derek and I.

Not a good day (part one)

Conker chomping on my foot

Conker chomping on my foot

When we got up last Friday we already knew it was going to be a bad day as we had made the horrible decision to have our sweet little girl, Daisy put to sleep. Her appointment was at 2.30 that afternoon, so we weren’t in the best of moods, but when we went into our dining room, where our boys live, to feed Conker his breakfast of baby food, things got worse.

Conker’s condition had deteriorated severely since we had last seen him at bedtime. He had pretty much lost all control of his legs, he couldn’t stand up and kept rolling over and he wasn’t interested in his baby food. We called our vets straightaway who gave us an immediate appointment.

Our vet confirmed what we suspected, that there wasn’t much that could be done for Conker and agreed to have him put to sleep. It was very difficult, we had been getting very close to Conker with feeding him baby food three times a day, but there was no way we could leave him in the condition he was. The vet did offer us some treatment, but as is often the case with rats it is guess work, it may work and it wasn’t anything we hadn’t already tried.

Conker wasn’t with us for very long, but he was a lovely boy and we are really going to miss him very much.

Shy-guy Chestnut has passed away

Our little rat ChestnutI’m very sad to say our shy little guy Chestnut passed away yesterday afternoon. It was a very sad end to what had been an exciting weekend of new rattie arrivals. His passing was very peaceful, and though we don’t know exactly how old he was, I’m pretty sure he had reached a good old age.

I don’t think Chestnut ever really got over being abandoned by his first family, still he was a lovely rat and we loved him very much. He was never very keen on leaving his cage to come out and play, and he would have these little panic attacks where he couldn’t quite catch his breath. We found it best to let him be and fuss him in his cage, and we did spoil him with baby food and human food, which he loved.

While we are very sorry to see Chestnut go, it is good to know he passed away peacefully, with a full tummy after sharing our dinner with us.

Our two rats, Chestnut and Conker enjoying some cookie