April 2008 - September 2008

Our little hooded rat, Petal

An unexpected arrival

Our sweet little rat, PetalOn a recent trip to the RSPCA to pick up two very cuddly boys, Pickle and Tomato, we came across another little rattie looking for a home and couldn’t resist. At the time we were told that Rodney was a young male rat, this being the RSPCA we didn’t think twice about what we’d been told. And because we had two young friendly boys at home, we thought the little guy would fit in well. Once we got home, however, we realised that Rodney was in fact a girl and that she probably wasn’t that young. On top of that, we also found she had two lumps. One was under her right arm and the other at the down at the bottom of her tummy.

Obviously this was a very upsetting and a big shock for us and we honestly didn’t know what to do for the best. While our first thought was to take her back to the RSPCA, as we hadn’t planned on getting a female rat and we had no suitable cage for her, this was easier said than done. So, we decided to leave it overnight and think about things when we were a little calmer.

We renamed our new arrival Petal, which suited her much better than Rodney. Renaming the new arrival probably wasn’t the wisest idea, as we still hadn’t decided to keep her. Not having a spare rat cage that would be suitable for a long term home was just one of our problems. The fact she was on her own would mean she’d require a lot of attention, at least until we could find her a companion. On top of that there was the problem of her tumours. It was a lot for us to deal with, because Petal was a spur of the moment addition to the family.

When it came down to it we realised there was no way we could take Petal back to the RSPCA, because she was on her own and because of the care she would need if she had the tumours removed. I called the manager of the RSPCA and told her what had happened. She was, understandably, upset and concerned by the whole mix up. She also offered to pay all of Petal’s vets bills, which we were grateful for because the whole thing was very distressing not just because of Petal’s condition, but we are also facing the added expense of buying Petal a new cage. While we have lots of big rat cages, they were all occupied leaving us with what we call our quarantine cages, these are great as temporary homes, but I would never let a rat, even a little lone female, live in one long term.

Our rat, Petal leaning off the edge of the sofa

Petal has been booked in with our vet and only time will tell if this story will have a happy ending for us.

Our little rat, Petal, is okay after her operation

Our sweet little rat home safe after her surgeryFirst things first. We are please to say Petal is making a full recovery from her operation, and despite all the stress surrounding her joining our family, she is a lovely little rat and has been settling in happily. But to give her the best chance at having a long and happy life with us, we knew she needed to have her tumors removed. They were both pretty big compared to the size of her, and because one was under her left arm and the other down at her groin if left to grow they would soon affect her ability to get around and enjoy life.

Having said that it was not easy to leave her at our vets to have her operation. And it was a very difficult day waiting for the call to say she had come through the operation. but the call did come and we were very happy to go and collect our girl and bring her home.

Thankfully, she has bounced back from her operation amazingly well and has not made any attempt to chew her stitches. Although, we do wish she would take things a bit easier instead of climbing all over the sofa and us when she comes out to play.

Only time will tell if her tumors will grow back, but we’re not going to worry about that. Instead we’re going to enjoy Petal’s huge personality and be glad she’s ours.

Now most of the stress and worry is over we made a donation to our local RSPCA to cover half of Petal’s medical bills. While it was good of them to pay for Petal’s treatment and it certainly helped reduce our stress levels slightly, they are a charity and while they should have spotted that Petal wasn’t a boy and that she had the tumours we are really happy she’s ours. If they had told us she was a girl the day we saw her, we might not have brought her home with us and now we know and love her, that doesn’t bear thinking about.

A Ferplast Furet Cage for Petal

post_0901Petal showing off her new Ferplast Furet cageNow Petal has recovered from her operation, we thought it only right that we should get on and sort out a new home for her. We chose the Ferplast Furet, after reading rat cage reviews on the Fancy Rat website. It was a little bigger than we had room for in our living room, which is where we wanted Petal to live as she was on her own, but when it comes to rats you can’t scrimp on space, so rather than get her a home that was too small, we made room for her large new home.

Poor little Petal didn’t quite know what to make of all the extra space at first, and even though her wounds from her operation were healing well she was probably still a bit sore. Not that it took her long to pluck up the courage to explore every inch of her new home, and as her strength and confidence build she is starting to make the most of all the extra space, inside and outside her home.

Though the addition of Petal to our family was completely unexpected, she has quickly become a very important member of our family. Considering everything she has been through in a very short space of time she is a very special little rat and we are looking forward to getting to know her even better. Who knows maybe we will even be lucky enough to find her some sisters to share that huge cage with, watch this space…

Naughty Petal

One of the corners Petal has chewed in her new cage

One of the corners Petal has chewed in her new cage

Oh that rat! She has decided to start nibbling the base of her new cage. There is a lip that runs around the bottom of the cage and it is obviously a nice chewing height, and Petal has had a good nibble of of all the corners. While she hasn’t broken through the base yet, we are going to have to keep an eye on what she gets up to, because we don’t want any midnight escape attempts!

Petal’s other vice is chewing the bars! We think this is because she’s on her own, and no matter how much time we spend with her, or how much we love her, nothing can make up for not having the company of other rats. So, we think this behavior is due to loneliness and maybe boredom. While we don’t hold what she’s doing against her it is scraping all the lovely green paint of the bars of her new cage and will probably shorten the life of the cage. I know this would have happened in any cage, but it is annoying. Having said that how can you be cross with a little rat who when you hold her up to your face to tell her off and she licks your nose?

One things for sure Petal is a handful.

Butter wouldn't melt

Butter wouldn't melt

Petal and her new friends

We recently adopted three young rats from the RSPCA. They are a young mum, Daisy, and her two daughters, Peach and Apricot. At six and three months of age they are a little younger than we had planned, but it was important for us that Petal have some rattie friends, and once we’d seen the girls at the RSPCA we couldn’t leave without them.

We’ve taken the first steps in introducing Petal to Daisy, Peach and Apricot. Petal is a lot older that the girls and she has some funny ways about her, but we know there is nothing more important for a rat than other rattie companions.

Petal and Daisy

Petal and Daisy

So far thing are going well. Peach and Apricot tend to hide in bed, but Daisy and Petal seem to get on. We’ve had no signs of aggression, which is good. Petal doesn’t seem that interested in Daisy, preferring to eat and drink and carry on as normal, but Daisy is having none of that and seems genuinely interested in Petal.

It’s also really hot here, which doesn’t help things as Petal got a little over heated. She ended up flat out on the floor of the cage. I separated her from the others and gave her time to relax and she was fine and ready to meet everyone again.

Petal and her new family

Petal and Peach

Petal and Peach

Mondays are rattie clean out day – that’s all 4 rat cages. I took the opportunity to let Petal, Daisy, Peach and Apricot play together while I cleaned out their cages. Because Daisy and her daughters are so young I had moved them into Petal’s big cage and put her in a smaller cage. It wasn’t ideal, but seeing as they seemed to be getting along I didn’t think it would take to long before they were all living together.

While I was cleaning out the big cage, that Daisy shares with her daughters, they all pilled into Petal’s cage. Seeing as Petal didn’t seem to mind, I left them to it. Mind you once Petal discovered the girls food bowl sitting on the sofa she busied herself with nicking their food and trying to hide it all over the sofa. That’s my Petal!

Once the big cage was back in place, and seeing as Daisy, Peach and Apricot were messing around in her home, Petal moved into the big cage and made herself at home. I had to turf the little rats out of Petal’s cage, so I could clean that out and they happily trundled off back to their cage to see what I had done. None of them seemed to notice Petal had moved in, they were too busy climbing the bars and seeing what I’d changed and Petal was happy eating. So I left them to it while I cleaned Petal’s home out, and by the time I was finished they were all fast asleep. I didn’t have the heart to wake them so I left them to it.

They all seem happy with the new arrangement, so I have my fingers crossed that they’ll all continue to get on. It will be lovely for Petal to have a rattie family all of her own.

Petal, Daisy, Peach & Apricot

Petal, Daisy, Peach & Apricot

Petal seems really happy

Petal and Daisy enjoying a glass of milk

Petal and Daisy enjoying a glass of milk

Petal has been living with Daisy, Peach and Apricot for a few days now and all seems to be going well. I had noticed Petal was sleeping on the cage floor rather than an igloo or the other beds. I’m not sure if it’s the heat, or if Petal finds it a bit crowded all of a sudden, so I’ve put an extra igloo in there for her. I’m sure Derek will tell me I’m fussing when he finds out, but Petal is my princess and I want her to be as happy as possible.

I had worried that Petal would find Peach and Apricot a bit annoying. Well, Peach in particular as she loves to go pinging around the cage. But Petal is amazingly patient with her and of course there is rattie etiquette that I couldn’t possibly understand. If Peach does go bouncing into Petal, she’ll do something, that I can’t see, and Peach stops dead in her tracks, turns round and bounces off the other way!

It’s also wonderful to see them cuddled up with Petal. It has been hard seeing Petal on her own in that big cage. And now, having only known the girls a few short days, she just looks so content. Makes me feel all warm inside :-)

Happiness is...

Two rats cuddled in up a plastic tubeHaving a rattie family of your own.

We had four months with Petal as a lone rat, and throughout that time we spent as much time with her as we could. She was very sweet and cuddly with us, but there was always something missing – that twinkle in her eye that I’ve seen in all my other rats. Petal often came across as cranky and set in her ways, she certainly liked to boss me around. Having no idea how old Petal is, or if she’d always been on her own worried me, because I didn’t want to force a companion on her and cause her any stress or upset.

Still I followed my instincts and kept on looking for a suitable companion. Then I found Daisy and her daughters. Being so young the three of them weren’t quite what I had planned for, but I went with it. Derek and I were prepared to look after the girls separately if things didn’t work out, but luckily they did.

It has only been a few weeks since Petal moved in with Daisy, Peach and Apricot, but the change in Petal has been extraordinary. At first it was hard, I found myself worrying about Petal and if the young ones were driving her crazy or stressing her. Every squeak or bump and I’d check on them. Occasionally Petal has put one of the girls in their place, especially the two young ones, but yesterday Peach, one of the babies, had Petal rolled on to her back and was half grooming her half fighting and Petal was happily going along with it.

There have been many occasions where I’ve caught all four of them piled up in a hammock together or just sitting together, but yesterday I realised that not only did Petal look happier and healthier than I’d ever known her, but she looked younger.

Our four rats snuggled in their hammock together

Petal went through so much having two tumours removed within the first week of joining our family, and we were so proud of her for making such a brilliant and quick recovery. Seeing Petal now, with her new rattie family, it’s hard to believe that all that heartache and worry was only four short months ago.

Petal has passed away

Our little rat, Petal, exploring the sofaWe had noticed a drop in her energy levels over the previous few days, she didn’t seem so keen to come out and play, but she was eating and drinking so we didn’t think too much of it. We didn’t know how old Petal was, but we had always assumed she wasn’t a young rat. Still we had hoped that we’d be able to share a little more time with her. Although we hadn’t originally planned to adopt Petal, it is now hard to imagine not having had her in our lives.

While it is always hard for us to say goodbye to any of our rats, we can take comfort in the fact that Petal didn’t suffer she really did just slip away peacefully. We were very lucky to have known such a special little rat as Petal and to have given her her own little rattie family, who she adored.

Our little rat Petal enjoying her rattie family