Minty & Rummy

December 2007

Our rats, Minty and Rummy eating baby food

Two rescue rats in need of a loving home

I had been struggling with GMR (get more rats) for a while. While I love Toffee & Caramel dearly, they have grown into big old hermits. They get all the attention they need, but it’s not enough for me and I felt she had plenty of room in my heart for more rats, and I managed to convince Derek it was a good idea.

Rather than go to the pet shop and get some more little babies, that could end up detracting too much time from their other ratties, I thought it would be a good idea to offer a home to some rats from our local RSPCA. The RSPCA web site had details of a boy rat called Roland, who had been brought in as a stray, so Derek phoned up to enquire about him. Roland had already been lucky enough to find a home, but the lady he spoke to was very excited to hear from him, as they had a very difficult time finding homes for rats.

Sweet little Rummy enjoying his baby food

Sweet little Rummy enjoying his baby food

It was only an hour later and Derek got a call back about two boys, Jethro & Jim. They had been with the RSPCA for a year and were being cared for in a foster home. We agreed to go in and have a look at them. Unfortunately we found that the boys were in a very sorry state and Jethro particularly was extremely under weight and suffering from a very severe respiratory disorder, which he was being treated for. We were told by the young man who was in charge of the small animals that the foster carer had been keeping the rats on sawdust, which any caring rattie owner knows is a terrible thing, especially now when so many alternatives are available.

Rather thancause Jethro any distress we were only able to handle Jim. He was a very big old sweet boy and I fell in love with him right then and there, but Jethro’s condition was very poor. So we decided to leave the boys a week, to let Jethro finish his course of Baytril and recover and then come back at see them.

Because the RSPCA is a charity, they have to do the best with what funds they raise. All the small animals were being kept in a brick building that was not heated. This was fine for healthy animals, but for Jethro who was so poorly, underweight and very cold to the touch it reduced his chances of making a full recovery greatly. Once back in our nice, comfy home we could not stop thinking about the boys. We called the RSPCA that afternoon and told them we would come and collect the rats. Jethro was due to see the vet a few days later, but we felt it was more important for him to have a nice warm home, where he would get lots of attention, than to wait for him to be checked out by the RSPCA vet. We decided to take responsibility for Jethro’s medical bills and give him the care he deserved, rather than leave him to take his chances in an unsuitable environment.

Once in their new home, both boys settled in to their cage. Little Jethro was very wobbly and terribly thin, so we opened a jar of baby food and started feeding him up. One of the worst things about respiratory disease in rats is that it makes eating normal rattie food very difficult due to their shortness in breath and general exhaustion. So, Jethro was very glad to be offered soft, tasty, warm food and actually wolfed it down, stopping occasionally to catch his breath.

We decided to rename the boys, and make them part of our family, so Jethro and Jim became Minty and Rummy.

Minty & Rummy enjoying some human food

Minty & Rummy enjoying some human food

After several days of being hand fed baby food Minty and Rummy were settling in nicely, but Rummy was still very poorly and weak. We took him to our vets and got him a thorough check up. We are very lucky that our vets are great with small animals and give them the same care and attention they would a dog or cat. Our vet wasn’t sure if Rummy was suffering from a respiratory infection, as when she listened to his chest there were none of the wheezy sounds she expected to hear. Unfortunately as Rummy was so very weak, and we weren’t ready to give up on him, there were not many options available to us. Since we had started feeding Rummy baby food his overall condition had improved slightly. He was less dehydrated and was feeling a lot more comfortable and looked a little brighter, though his breathing was still difficult. Our vet increased Rummy’s dose of baytril and also gave him some anti-inflammatory medicine to make him more comfortable, and attempt to ease his breathing problems.



Sadly, a few days after his visit to the vet Rummy had shown no sign of improvement with his new medicine and we were concerned, after his initial positive response to his new home, that Rummy was starting to suffer. So we made the difficult decision to take Rummy back to the vet and have have him put to sleep.

Though Rummy was only with us for a week, he was such a sweet little chap and he fought so hard to overcome his illness, we couldn’t help but fall in love with him. Even though we were very sad to see him go, it was a great honour to make the last week of his life more comfortable.

Having said goodbye to Rummy we were left with Minty, who was now on his own in a strange home. We already had two older male rats, Toffee and Caramel, who are both very gentle boys. From the time we had already spent with Minty, and how sweet and gentle he was with Rummy, we felt that Minty would do better with two new brothers than all on his own.

Minty’s story continues with Toffee and Caramel.