Juniper, Jasmine, Lilac, Lily,
Bluebell & Buttercup

August 2016 - January 2019

Our four new baby rats

Lilac (back left), Lily, Jasmine & Juniper

Baby rat alert!

Its the same old story, I’m afraid. I was still feeling pretty low from the loss of my girls Blossom and Maisy, but had to visit the pet store for degu food. Walking past the rats for sale I saw the back end of a beige hooded rat and thought it looked lovely. As Derek and I were out on our bicycles we headed home, but I did mention the rat to him. Despite saying we weren’t going to have anymore rats, because they do break your heart when you lose them, he offered to take me to see the rat and find out who else was there.

Well, much to my dismay I discovered one to the group of rats was a dumbo. Neither Derek or I are particularly fond of dumbo rats. We had Smudge and Muffin and they were adorable, but boy they were ugly. So the sight of a dumbo put me off. Not to be deterred, as there were other rats we couldn’t see he went to find an assistant. It turned out there were four rats, two dumbos and two normal eared rats all girls. Seeing one of the normal eared rats was a husky, I was instantly sold, so of course her little black sister had to join her. Derek agreed, but there was something about the beige hooded rat that I couldn’t resist, even though she was a little ugly. Big softy that he is Derek could not refuse, and leaving one of the normal eared rats behind was not an option, so four little unplanned ratties have joined our family.

Our four new baby rats

Besides two of them being dumbo rats, the girls are all very different in colouring. Juniper is our lovely shiny black rat, with gorgeous little pink feet and white spots on her tummy. Jasmine is a husky, always irresistible to me. Lilac is a lovely beige hooded rat and I’m not sure if her eyes are a really deep ruby or are actually black. Then last but by no means least, is Lily, with her agouti hood. They are a wonderful mix and I wonder if their personalities will be as diverse.

We’ve only had them a couple of hours and they are incredibly inquisitive. Lily is the shyest of the bunch, she’s still hidden away somewhere, but I’m sure she’ll be as confident as her sisters soon enough. We are making sure not to bother them in their new home, but they are happily exploring with us in the room, and are not at all bothered with us moving around. I’m sure they will wear themselves out soon though and be ready for a big sleep.

Figuring it out

The girls are settling in well and finding their confidence. One of the most important things to me is my rats feeling free to come and go from their cage, with supervision, as much as possible. While I make lots of effort to handle them, I believe letting them explore their surroundings helps them find their confidence and that, in turn, makes their bond with me stronger.

All the girls are incredibly inquisitive, though no one has yet had the confidence to leave the cage they are all thinking about it.

My four baby rats peering out of their oped cage doorway

Juniper leads the way...

With Jasmine not far behind. Our little girls start finding their way on one of their first explorations out of their home.

Somebody stop Juniper

Oh my goodness, Juniper really is a live-wire. Her confidence is growing everyday and while the girls are still confined to the office at playtime there isn’t anywhere Juniper hasn’t explored.

We are exhausted and never know where we are going to find our crazy little rat next. The other three girls are finding their confidence at their own pace, which is what we want. Our only concern is that Juniper will get bored of the office before our other girls are ready to leave. Our cats room also makes a wonderful rattie playground, but if our little rats aren’t ready it can make a very difficult place to retrieve them from if they chose to hide form us.

Our baby rat, Juniper in different mischievous places

Our baby rat, Juniper in different mischievous places

Time will tell what Juniper gets unto next, but I am hopeful she’ll calm down a bit as her sisters get more adventurous and give her someone to play with.

Getting to know each other

Our new little rats are full of adventure and fun. They have mastered leaving their cage, all by themselves, and are now finding their way around the office, with the help of some yummy yoghurt drops. Well, one of them doesn’t need much encouragement, and she is getting up to all sorts of trouble.

Room for two more

If its not shopping for pet supplies its my other weakness, visiting the local RSPCA’s website. And that’s what I was doing when I happened across these two beautiful girls looking for a new home.

Our two new rats, Bluebell & Buttercup

Bluebell & Buttercup

How could I resist?

Well, obviously I didn’t because we headed straight out to the RSPCA and adopted them there and then! The girls had been waiting over a month for someone to adopt them, which is such a long time for little rats. Still their wait is over now, and we hope they are going to love being part of our family.

The plan is for the two new girls to live with our other four in a nice big cage, but for now we are giving them time to settle in. It was our intention to leave the girls alone for a day or two, but little Bluebell has other ideas. She is very much a live-wire and is already exploring her new home. There is no stopping her, and quite honestly I don’t want to.

One big happy rattie family

Five little rattie nosesI am thrilled to say, our six girls are now happily living together. The introductions were relatively simple. Buttercup is a bit on the shy side and was a bit overwhelmed with all the new friends, but once she’d found a nice comfy bed she was happy. As for Bluebell she has the other problem, she annoys the other girls with her endless energy, but we let her out lots and she usually goes exploring on her own.

There are the odd squabbles, but that is just as likely to be between the original four than them and the new girls, so we are not worried. I will keep an extra eye on Buttercup, just because she is so shy. I don’t want her to end up forgotten. All thought the girls have a new home with us, and we will never let them down, they have still been through a lot and I’ve seen how changing owners can affect rats and even if they seem outwardly healthy, its a big shock. For now though everyone seems to be getting to know each other, an I hope it will be good for all the girls to have some new sisters.

From the beginning Bluebell and Buttercup were in the big cage the girls now share, to limit the amount of change they had to experience. This means that Juniper, Jasmine, Lilac and Lily’s home has now doubled in size, so they are very excited and a little clumsy as they explore without judging heights and distances. We’ve had no serious tumbles, but I may have to add more shelves and tunnels if they don’t’ calm down. The most important feature is lots and lots of cosy beds, well I say that, they all seem to want to sleep in the same one, but hopefully they’ll spread themselves out as they settle in.

Our rats in their Furplast Furret cage

A rat in the cats room

A rat chewed cat toy

The mangled cat toy

Bluebell is by far the most adventurous rat our of our girls and she often spends her play time in the cats room. Often we will find her fast asleep in one of the many cat beds in that room, and it can be a challenge to figure out which one she’s in! Her other favourite ‘cat’ thing is their toys. She loves to hide them in hard to reach places. Once she ever brought one all the way back to the rat cage, where her sisters destroyed it!

With the arrival of our new kitten, the cats room is currently off limits to Bluebell, but don’t worry she has lots of other rooms to get into rattie mischief in.

Lady Jasmine has left us

Jasmine and her sister, Bluebell

Jasmine and her sister, Bluebell

I’m very sad to say we had to make the difficult decision to say goodbye to our beautiful Lady Jasmine this morning. We first noticed a lump on her throat last year. Even though it was very small we decided not to have it removed. Jasmine was such a timid little rat we were afraid the stress of surgery would be too much for her. She could also be a little uncooperative about getting out of bed to play at the best of times, so caring for her after surgery would have been a challenge.

Thankfully the lump proved to be very slow growing and we had many happy months spoiling our sweet girl until she started to deteriorate. The size of the lump beginning to be a problem for Jasmine and in the last few days her breathing had become laboured. We don’t know if it was caused by the lump or a separate issue, but we felt it was the right time to let our beautiful girl go.

Our vet was very supportive of our decision and took great care of Jasmine, who was not happy to be away from her home and sisters. I will always have such a soft spot for husky rats, which Jasmine was. She faded to almost white in her two years with us, but her beautiful eyes always shone brightly with happiness.

Jasmine as a baby and all grown up

Jasmine as a baby and all grown up

Poorly Lilac

We’ve been having a difficult time with our little critters and I’m sorry to say things are not looking up. Our sweet little girl, Lilac is very poorly. We had a very hot July here in the UK and none of the rats have been very happy, but we noticed Lilac was looking a little more lethargic than the others and her breathing was a bit heavy. We took Lilac straight to the vet and got her some medicine.

Being so tired and breathless she was a little reluctant to eat and has lost some weight. I’ve been treating her to Yogurt Drops, Lilac loves them, and although they are not the healthiest food they are better than nothing. While she’s still eating a lot of yoggie drops, Lilac is now managing to eat a bit of rat food and some fresh bread at teatime.

There is no denying Lilac is very poorly, but she is holding on and we are going to do everything we can to help her get better.

Lilac and her sister, Buttercup snuggled together

Lilac and her sister, Buttercup snuggled together

More sad news...

I’m afraid we lost our little Lilac last night. We knew she was struggling with her respiratory infection, but we were still hopeful she could pull through. Sadly it wasn’t meant to be.

I was feeding my girls at bedtime and Lilac had a few yogurt drops and then wanted to come out of the cage. I couldn’t really let her as I needed to feed my other girls, and our cat Jessie was around. Normally I wouldn’t worry to much about Jessie, she usually gets chased by the rats, but in Lilac’s frail state I didn’t want to take any chances. So I picked her out of the cage, thinking she could help me, I wrapped her in a towel to keep her safe and the next thing I knew she had gone limp. It was a horrible shock she didn’t appear distressed, other than wanting to leave the cage, and I really wasn’t prepared to say goodbye. As sad and unexpected as it was I was at least I was with her and I know she went peacefully.

We are going to miss both her and Jasmine for a long time.

More goodbyes

It has been a difficult two weeks for our little family and I’m very sad to say we’ve said goodbye to both out precious little Juniper and our super adventurous Bluebell. While its been an emotional time, we were at least able to take some comfort knowing both girls slipped away peacefully at home.

Juniper

Juniper

Baby Juniper passed away first, she was behaving rather frail and had lost a bit of weight, but nothing we could quite describe. With the passing of Jasmine and Lilac the dynamics of the rats had changed slightly. Juniper had always been very close to Jasmine, so at first we weren’t sure if Juniper’s melancholy was due to the loss of her sisters, but as time passed we realised that Juniper was just slowing down with age. She was still a super friendly and happy little girl, but I’d noticed she wasn’t moving around her home as much. I had taken to spoiling her and making sure she was getting lots of food in bed, maybe there were a few extra treats too :-). As her activity levels dropped, Juniper spent a lot more time enjoying cuddles during her out of cage time. It was during one of these cuddle times she just slipped away. I wasn’t even aware she had left me at first. She was cuddled up in a fluffy towel and I thought she had fallen asleep, but sadly I realised she had passed away.

Bluebell

Bluebell

While Juniper’s activity levels were dropping, we had also noticed the Bluebell was losing weight. She was eating healthily and still very active, so we didn’t worry too much. We’d always had the feeling Bluebell and Buttercup were a little older than our other three girls. When you adopt rat, you never know for sure how old they are, and after many years of living with rats, you get to recognise the stages they go through. So, we’d always had the inkling that Bluebell was more senior than we first thought, not that age ever stopped her getting into all sorts of mischief.

It wasn’t until the very end that Bluebell’s energy levels dropped. We had moved our remaining three girls, Bluebell, Buttercup and Lilac, into what we lovingly call a retirement cage. The retirement cages are lower than our normal rat cages which means elderly rats can’t climb so high, which as they get more frail and clumsy keeps them safe. Bluebell had only been in the retirement cage a short while when she started to slip away from us. Her passing was fairly quick, she just sort of stopped over a few days and then she left us peacefully. While we are always sad to see any of our little critters go, it was a beautiful end for our adventurous and happy little girl.

Poorly Buttercup

Oh dear, our sweet girl Buttercup is very poorly. It started with a lump underneath her left eye. We were hoping it was a simple abscess and, because of its location, took her straight to the vet. Our vet wasn’t unduly worried and agreed it was probably an abscess caused by infection the root of a tooth. As Buttercup is obviously quite old, this seemed the most logical diagnosis.

The plan for the surgery was to drain the abscess and clean out any infection. Unfortunately during during her surgery the vet found that Buttercup’s jaw bone had been eaten away, either by infection or more scarily a tumour. Knowing how much we love our little rats, our vet did everything she could to clean Buttercup’s jaw and bring her back to us.

The operation has left Buttercup with an open wound on her jaw, to let the infection drain. We have lots of medicine for our little girl, including pain relief, and will of course need to clean her cheek daily.

I won’t say it will be easy, but while Buttercup is happy and bright we are going to do everything we can to get our little girl through this.

Cuddles with Buttercup

Cuddles with Buttercup

Buttercup has passed away

It is with a very heavy heart that I say our sweet girl Buttercup has left us. We tired very hard to get her better after her surgery, but it just wasn’t meant to be. We could see Buttercup was starting to struggle with her wound and made the painful decision have her put to sleep.

Both Derek and I know it was the right and loving thing to do for Buttercup, but still it leaves us with a big empty hole. Buttercup was such a sweet unassuming girl. After being adopted and not too sure about us, she thrived living with her new sisters and became a very big part of our family.

A young Buttercup and Lily

A young Buttercup and Lily

Having gone from six crazy rats not too long ago, to nursing Buttercup we are left with our little fruitcake Lily. She has always been the strangest of the girls, preferring the company of other rats to us. Still, no matter how funny she is we are going to take extra special care of our little OAP, whether she appreciates it or not.

Goodbye to our funny little Lily

Our crazy little hermit girl Lily was put to sleep this morning. It wasn’t a great shock to us as she had a tumour on her side, still as funny as she was we are sorry to see her go. Because of Lily’s age, her slightly reclusive personality, and the fact she was alone, we had decided not to put her through surgery. We had been taking extra special care of her, as far as she would let us. Since being on her own, Lily preferred not to come out to play. That didn’t stop me opening her cage door and trying to tempt her with treats. While she would snatch the treats off me, nothing I did could convince her to come out. Even at cleaning out time, she’d be back in her cage before it was fully put back together. As soon as her favourite blue igloo was in place she’d be in it. Then when cleaning out was finished she wandered round to make sure everything was right, before heading back to bed.

As much as I loved these funny little routines with Lily, her lump got to a point where it was impacting her life. She was struggling to scratch with her back foot and although she didn’t move around much, it was getting in her way. It was hard to take her to the vet, but thinking of her being at peace and remembering her with her sisters does give some comfort.

Derek and I had a lot of fun with our mixed bag of girls, whether they were running riot around our home office or chomping loudly when we were trying to make a phone call, our girls were a big part of our lives. We will miss them all, and always remember how they would all try to squish themselves in one bed together.

Our girls doing what they loved to do, sleeping

Our girls doing what they loved to do, sleeping