Kiwi, Sugar, Pearl, Smudge & Muffin

December 2008 - March 2011

Kiwi, Sugar, Pearl, Muffin & Smudge

Kiwi, Sugar, Pearl, Muffin & Smudge

We have adopted five female rats!

My girls making themselves at home

My girls making themselves at home

We had said we weren’t going to take anymore rats in, and when the RSPCA phoned us about five girls who were looking for a home we initially said no. We stuck to our resolve for a few weeks, but couldn’t stop thinking about the rats. The RSPCA have a hard enough time rehoming rats as it is, never mind five. Then there is the age of the girls. It has been our experience that whatever age the people giving the rats up tell the RSPCA is usually wrong. Sadly this turned out to be the case with these girls. We went along expecting three rats who were one year old and two dumbo rats who were six months. While the dumbos are still young the other three are definitely not the same age. I believe that possibly one of the rats, Pearl is around one, but the other two, Kiwi & Sugar are nearer two years of age, if not over. One thing is for sure they are not young rats.

As we now have so many rats, we have cleared out what was the guest room and turned it into the rats room. We have moved our other girls, Daisy, Peach & Apricot into the rat room too and while the girls live in separate cages they will get to play together and cause all kinds of rattie mayhem.

Pearl and Smudge grading all the food

Pearl and Smudge grading all the food

Getting to know our new arrivals

I would love to say things are going smoothly with our new arrivals and we are all getting on well, but we are not. I understand the bond rats form with us humans, and the pain it must cause them when they are forgotten, or in my girls’ case given away. Some of them have obviously been more hurt than the others and are acting out in different ways.

Kiwi and Pearl looking for the exit

Kiwi and Pearl looking for the exit

Firstly Kiwi is a bit destructive, she likes to pull up the carpet, chews are the bars of her cage and the base and other plastic bits she can reach. We are a bit concerned she is actually going to chew her way out of the cage. Pearl and Sugar also chew the bars of their cage, which is very noisy especially at nighttime, but we can hope that they will settle down. All the rats get a bit mischievous if we let them run around too long. On average they can stay out for about 10 minutes, before they start getting tired and troublesome. Hopefully they will get used to being out for longer periods and probably get a bit fitter for it.

Smudge, the little terror

Smudge, the little terror

The worst problem we have is with on of the dumbo rats, Smudge. She will let me reach in the cage and pick up to get her out to play, but once loose on the floor she turns into a demon and seeks out and bites my hands. She has bitten Derek a few times, but I am her main target. These are deep bites and she always draws blood. I think it is probably linked to their first owner, who was also female, I guess this is why she targets me more than Derek. We have talked about giving her and her sister, Muffin I don’t want to split them up, back to the RSPCA, but I can’t bring myself to do it. I made a commitment to the girls when I took them on and I don’t have it in my to give up on them. So, I’m going to start giving Smudge lots of attention, even though she pretends she hates it, and squeaks, when I hold her and fuss her. I think she is craving attention and it making her act out. Fingers crossed it will work, because I can’t go on with her chomping on my hands at every opportunity.

Apart from a few teething troubles they are lovely girls, most of the time, and I’m glad they are part of our family.

Things are settling down

I’m very pleased to report that the girls are starting to settle down a lot more. Yes Kiwi, Sugar and Pearl are still intent on chewing their cage, but they are a lot happier. We are able to keep the girls out for longer periods now and that wears them out so they have less energy for destroying their cage.

Our demon rat, Smudge, is also settling down. I’ve been making an extra special effort to pick her up and fuss her every time she is out. At first she made a right fuss and wriggled and squeaked, but she has gradually come to accept the attention and when I put her back down on the floor she’ll go bouncing off, letting me know she is happy and enjoying the attention. The most important thing is she has stopped seeking my hand out and biting me, which shows she was starved for attention.

My rats sitting on my knee and enjoying treats

I’m not a huge fan of dumbo rats; I don’t understand this need to change the look of an animal for no good reason other than for human amusement. Still Smudge and Muffin are sweet girls and they both enjoy bouncing around their room and playing.

Goodbye to Kiwi

Happy times

Happy times

Sadly we had to say goodbye to Kiwi today. She suffered some sort of prolapse of her vagina. It was very distressing for Derek and I, but fortunately Kiwi didn’t show any outward signs of distress. Our vet checked her over and sadly there was nothing that could be done for her, so we had to make the horribly difficult decision to let her go.

She had been having intermittent bleeding for a couple of weeks and our vet had given us a course of antibiotics, on the off chance it was an infection. We were aware that the bleeding could have been caused by a tumour and had started to prepare ourselves for the worst, even so we still weren’t quite ready to loose her so soon.

Kiwi was with us for far too short a time, it seems so unfair. It feels like we never really got to know her or give her the life she deserved. I know it is better for her to have had a home where she was wanted and loved, but she deserved better and I wish we had got the chance to show her how much we loved her.

Kiki and her family

Kiki and her family

Well that's gone and done it

The girls, or at least one of them, has chewed their way out of their cage. It’s a Furplast Furret Plus that originally belonged to Petal. I was concerned when I first got the cage that it had a lip inside the base, and sure enough Petal had a go a chewing it, but fortunately she didn’t do too much damage. These girls, however, are destructive little madams.

The damage done

The damage done

I had hoped they would stop chewing when they had settled in, but they seem to have got worse. They have lots of things in their cage which they can and do chew. Smudge and Muffin, both chew the bars a lot and they are fetching the green paint off, in most places now it is down to the metal. I’m not too worried about this because they won’t destroy the cage doing that.

One downside to having destructive rats in the Furret Plus is, because it was flat pack, so much of it is held together with plastic. I know it is meant as a ferret cage, so I’m not blaming the cage. Its just a pain at the moment, because size and access wise – it has two doors- it is a great cage.

I do love the girls, very much, and I understand that they have had a crummy life, being abandoned and obviously not being taken care of properly. Since having them and giving them regular exercise both Sugar and Pearl have lost weight and we have seen their energy levels increase significantly. Smudge and Muffin, who are both tiny Dumbo rats, have bulked up. They were such skinny little things when we got them, like sausages with legs and big ears :-).

The wooden frame Derek has made for the girls cage

The wooden frame Derek has made for the girls cage

As for the cage, Derek has made a wooden frame that sits on the ledge the girls have been chewing. We had thought about sticking plastic over the lip, but that would have to be stuck down and if they chewed that we’d be in trouble. With the wood they can still chew it, but it can be removed for cleaning and replaced as necessary. So, as long as they don’t figure out that they can lift it up and still get to the plastic underneath we should be okay.

Our cuddly, sweet girl, Pearl has passed away

My sweet girl Pearl

My sweet girl Pearl

I’m really sad to say that our beautiful girl Pearl has died. She slipped away peacefully over the space of a few hours and we are absolutely heart broken.

A few weeks ago we had found a lump underneath Pearl’s armpit. At first we weren’t sure whether to do anything about it or not, as Pearl was obviously a mature rat and she was starting to slow down. Unfortunately the lump was growing quite quickly and Pearl’s energy levels were also dropping, and we did not know if this was related to the lump. So we decided to have the lump removed.

Pearl actually came through her operation very well and was back to her old self the next day. Rats have an amazing ability to just get over operations once the anaesthetic is out of their systems and Pearl was out and about the next day and eating and drinking normally.

We were so relieved and happy that she had come though okay. Sadly though it did not last and by Saturday night she was looking a bit down. When we went to check on her Sunday morning she was obviously not very well. I took her out of the cage she shares with her sisters and made her a nice warm bed in a shoe box with lots of soft towels to keep her warm. She did eat a bit of baby food that morning, but her responsiveness to us gradually dwindled over the next few hours until she passed away.

We are heartbroken; Pearl was the sweetest and most affectionate of her sisters. She loved to be cuddled and fuss us back in return. I think she was very happy in her home with us and I hope that we made up a little bit for her first family letting her down and giving her and her sisters away. I do love my rattie girls very much, but playtime just won’t be the same without Pearl and her cuddles.

Sugar and Pearl, partners in crime

Sugar and Pearl, partners in crime

Ageing gracefully

Our husky rat, Sugar in her hammockOur sweet, and sometimes bossy, girl Sugar is beginning to slow down quite a bit and is a little unsteady on her feet. We are assuming it is old age, as she wasn’t a young girl when she joined our family over a year ago.

It is both a bit sad to know she is getting old, but at the same time, with all the traumas of loosing out younger rats, good to know she has reached old age makes us feel very proud. I don’t like to think of loosing her as a year is such a sort time to spend with such a special little girl, but I think Derek and I have made her very happy. We love spending time with her and will up until the end, but we know it is coming, just not when.

I think Sugar was very hurt by her first family and she liked to take it out on me and give me a hard time. She liked to make sure we knew she was boss. Like when it was time to come out and play she’d make me wait until SHE was ready to come out before I could pick her up. If I didn’t wait I’d get a warning chomp to keep me in my place.

Things started to change when Peal died and Sugar started to get closer to Derek. She would hang around him more and seek his attention. I think she still likes to give me a hard time, and that makes sense seeing as her first owner was also a woman. Since she has started to slow down she seems happier to accept attention from both of us and we are making the most of it and giving her lots of cuddles.

Cuddle time

Cuddle time

We love Sugar very much, she has such a huge charater and is very beautiful. Derek and I have a real soft spot for Husky rats, thanks to our cuddly guy Badger, and Sugar and Pearl both being huskys was one of the reasons we decided to adopt the girls.

Goodbye to our bossy girl Sugar

Our much loved little girl, Sugar passed away quietly yesterday. Over the past week she had become gradually weaker and weaker, but still enjoying lots of baby food, until her appetite dropped off completely and she was struggling to walk. I moved her from the cage she shares with her sisters into a very cosy bed I made for her with soft towels in a shoebox. Being so very weak and with being wrapped up all safe and warm, she wasn’t interested in wandering off. I kept her in there for a few days, checking on her regally and changing her towels when she went to the loo and washing her face and eyes.

Derek holding Sugar

Derek holding Sugar

When Derek and I got up on Sunday morning she seemed very week and her breathing was shallow. I took her out of her box and was cleaning her up when she gave a big breath and passed away. While it breaks my heart that she is gone, it was very special that she had held on all night and died in my hands.

Sugar had always been a very bossy, and sometimes difficult, rat, but I loved her so much. It may sound silly, but I believe it was a gift, and maybe a thank you from Sugar, that I got to see her pass quietly and peacefully.

Our funny little Muffin has left us

Chomp

Chomp

More bad news I’m afraid. Muffin had what we initially thought was an abscess on the side of her face. The lump came up very quickly and burst within a couple of days, as you would expect. We immediately started bathing it with salt water and giving her Baytril. Not all of the swelling went down with the burst abscess and worryingly a strong smelling fluid was starting to discharge from Muffins ear. Her jaw had also gone out of alignment, with her bottom teeth pointing diagonally to the right, making it very difficult for her to eat even baby food.

We consulted our vet, and she speculated that Muffin has some sort of fissure, which was causing the fluid in Muffins ear and probably draining into the abscess. As we sadly expected, she told us we could do nothing more for Muffin than what we were doing.

Our little Muffin was obviously very unhappy, and not her bouncy little self at all, so we made the hard decision to have her put to sleep. I’ve never been a big fan of dumbo rats, but Muffin did win me round. She had the sweetest little personality and she was just so full of fun and life. Right up until she got sick Muffin would spend her playtime running round and round the room. She would regularly run into a table leg, us or another rat, but she’d just pick herself up and carry on running.

I had always hoped Muffin would live to a good old age and pass away peacefully in her sleep. It seemed fitting for the simple way she lived her life. Sadly things didn’t work out that way for our little girl, but I’m pretty sure she had a great time being a much loved member of our family

Muffin with her rattie family

Muffin with her rattie family

Smudge's new roommates

Our little old dumbo rat, Smudge, eating from a bowl of rat foodIt was silly to have little old Smudge living alone in her rather large cage, especially with two new boisterous young rats in the house. We didn’t want to move Smudge from her home – even though she spends all her time in her rat igloo – it just didn’t seem fair to her after loosing her rattie sisters. So, we moved our new arrivals Tula and Tilly in with Smudge.

Smudge is a very easygoing little rat, and she’s not that big so we didn’t anticipate any problems with introducing the young rats to her. And I’m pleased to say everything has gone smoothly. We kept the girls separate for a few weeks just to give them time to settle in and make sure they were healthy and then they pretty much moved straight in with Smudge.

I’ll admit Smudge was a little unsure at first. She is very old and the girls are young and bouncy, but it only took a few days for everyone to work it out. Smudge is still happy spending most of her time in her rat igloo, while the girls make the most of the rest of the cage.

Within a week they were already grooming each other and sleeping curled up together. I’m really happy for Smudge, I know it doesn’t make up for the loss of her sisters, but having lived with so many other rats it really wasn’t healthy for her to suddenly be on her own.

Tilly and Smudge

Tilly and Smudge

They make a funny little trio, and they are all very small rats, they do seem very happy together and I’m really happy Smudge is no longer on her own.

Smudge is still going strong

It’s funny to think that Smudge was our least favourite of the five girls we adopted from the RSPCA. It’s not that we didn’t want her, although I don’t think I will ever be a fan of dumbo rats, it’s the fact that when we first got her she continually and aggressively attacked and bit my hands. I remember she would charge from across the room if I put my hand on the floor and give me a really nasty bite. Oddly she never bit Derek, it was always me!

Our little old rat, Smudge, out and about

It didn’t take much to break Smudge of her bad habit, just time patience and love. Smudge would never bite me if I was holding her, so that’s what I did – I picked her up at every opportunity and wouldn’t put her down until she’d had a good cuddle. And it worked; Smudge and I became great friends.

After the last of her sisters passed away I got two new little rats, who Smudge shares a home with and we hardly ever see her! Smudge is content sleeping the day away in her igloo and getting up when she thinks we have some yummies for her. Not that I mind, if Smudge is happy then I’m happy.

It’s just funny how things have turned out. Smudge has gone from being our least favourite little rat, to a very precious little family member.

Goodbye to our little girl, Smudge

Old age Dumbo rat, Smudge out and aboutAlthough Smudge only passed away this morning, both Derek and I feel very peaceful about her passing. It’s strange to say but we aren’t really grieving for her, we will miss her, but there is no sorrow associated with her death, just calmness.

I guess it’s because Smudge was so old. She had been with us for over 2 Years, and she was already fully grown when we got her. So, while we will never know her exact age, she certainly was an old little rat. Since the death of her sisters she had been living a sedate life, choosing to only really interact with us when there was food on offer. She was by no means neglected, Derek and I regularly played with Tula and Tilly, who Smudge shared a home with, but Smudge preferred to stay in her igloo most of the time.

She’d been slowing down steadily over the last month or so. Her fur was looking a little unkempt, and she felt rather frail when I held her. Just over a week ago I noticed she was suffering from slight weakness in her back legs. She was still content and eating and drinking fine, so I didn’t worry. Then this morning I found her lying in her cage and it was obvious she was slipping away quietly. I held her until she took her last breath and told her I loved her.

It’s nice to know she is at peace and that she died peacefully. Smudge had a difficult start to her life – being given up by her first owner – and it obviously affected her quite badly. I feel very lucky to have been able to give her comfort and security in her life.

Happy times

Happy times