Pika & Chewie, Maize & Oatie,
Whisper & Truffle

December 2013 - April 2016

Montage of our seven rats

Six new rats! What were we thinking?

Chips with is new brothers

Chips with is new brothers

Our old guy Chips was behaving a bit down on his own, so we’d been looking to adopt a couple of rats to be his new family, with no success. On a trip to our local pet store we happened upon some fully grown boys and thought they would be perfect companions for Chips. What we didn’t realise were that there were six of them hidden away in various places in the cage! As we were only looking for a couple of rats, I persuaded Derek to let me have three. I felt bad splitting them up like that, but six rats is an awful lot to take care of and I didn’t feel I had a cage big enough to house them all. Well that went out the window when I got home and realised what had happened – none of the thee boys were related. All three were completely different in size and colours, you could just see none of them were brothers. Then I started to worry – what if I had split up some siblings. Poor Derek was left with no choice, he had to go back and get the other three and we were really glad he did. Once the second batch of rats were home it became clear that there were three pairs of brothers, and by some fluke I had picked one of each pair.

Whisper

Whisper

So, they are all with us now and its lovely to know they are all together safe in their new home. Unfortunately little Whisper is a bit snuffly. I’m hoping that is due to all the stress of leaving the pet store, he seems bright enough if a little unsettled by all the change. The other five seem like a nice, healthy bunch, if a little on the shy side, but I’m sure a bit of attention and some yummy treats will fix that. The most important thing is Chips adores them, and they have welcomed him into their group with not problems at all. If anything I think they are glad to have a happy, confident older rat to show them everything is going to be okay. I don’t think the boys have been handled much at the pet store, which is unusual for this particular store as they have always been really good to their animals. Still apart from being jumpy they are sweet guys and I’m looking forward to getting to know them and sharing our meal times with them.

The boys names explained

Usually when I name my rats they end up with names that go together, at least in my head. With these boys the naming process all got a bit muddled up, with them arriving in two separate groups. As they are three pairs of brothers, I ended up pairing each name to their sibling, which lead to them all getting nicknames.

The Pikachus

First to arrive was Pika. His name came from my love of video games and in particular Pokemon. Many years ago I had a Nintendo 64 game called ‘Hey You Pikachu, it was one of the most annoying games I have ever played, you actually had to talk via a microphone to Pikachu. The little yellow rodent never listened to me he’d just tip his head to one side and say ‘Pika’. Although Pika the rat is not yellow, and I hope he’s not going to be anywhere near as naughty as Pikachu, he does for some reason remind me of the bright yellow mouse.

When Chewie arrived it seems right to name him after another Pokemon, but I admit some of their names like Tepig or Mudkip may sound a little odd. As Derek wasn’t too impressed with my Pokemon related suggestions – maybe you have to enjoy Pokemon to appreciate them – I turned my attention back to the name Pikcachu. Chu just didn’t sound right, neither did Chuchu, but Chewie was perfect. And the pair of them have became known as the Pickachus for short.

The Granolas

It was Maize who arrived first of this pair, with his ginger hood he made me think of wheat fields. His colouring didn’t quite lend itself to the name Wheat – which was a good thing as a little gerbil came along and took that name just a few days later – but I thought Maize suited him perfectly.

When his brother Oatie arrived I followed the crop theme. Oat alone didn’t sound right, so he became Oatie. These two are almost identical and with them being so secretive, we’re not entirely sure who is who, so they became lovingly known as the Granolas. Derek and I will usually say ‘one of the granolas’ because by the time we’ve figured out which one it is they’ve usually stopped what they were doing and gone back to bed, or worse go in a tizzy because we were staring at them.

The Choclateers

Finally we have the Choclateers. Now it was Truffle who joined our family first, but he still had no name by the time his brother arrived, and it was little Whisper who got his name first. There were several things that struck me about Whisper, one he seems very timid, even more so than the other guys. There was just a look in his eye that said please leave me alone. On top of that he reminded me of my previous gorgeous rat, Willow. With his lovely brown hood, shy nature and with Willow in mind, the name Whisper suited him perfectly.

Our black hooded rat, Truffle is not named after a fungus, I was thinking more of a chocolate truffle when I named him. Although little Whisper was named more for his personality than the chocolate bar, we do have a family joke about black hooded rats being large of bottom,. So, when it came to naming Whisper’s brother we thought it would be fun to go with the chocolaty theme. It was with this in mind that we then started calling them the Choclateers.

So there you have it, and if I ever refer to my boys by their nicknames you’ll know who I’m talking about.

What a bunch of hermits!

Hello Chewie

Hello Chewie

Oh dear my new boys are a right lazy bunch. Trying to get them out of their cage to play is like pulling teeth, honestly they would rather spend all their time piled up in one bed together, all seven of them. I always want what is best for my boys and don’t want to make them do anything they don’t want – I’m just not sure it’s healthy for them to sleep all day long. The worst bit is everyday Derek and I lift their huge cage down onto the floor so they can come out and they barely bat an eye. The cage weighs and awful lot, especially with them in it, and it takes both of us to lift it, but it seems so wrong not to give them the chance to come out and play. I just wish they’d appreciate it.

One thing they do get up for is to share in our dinner. That is the downside to having rats in the dinning room, they want your food and no matter how shy that are they know how to make soppy, begging eyes at you until you give in.

Despite their laziness they are gorgeous boys and it’s wonderful to see them making our guy Chips so happy.

A bigger cage for my lazy boys

I have decided if my boys won’t come out and play then they’ll just have to have a bigger home to live in. The cage is basically the same as their old one just a lot bigger, no kidding it’s massive. I’m not sure the boys have figured out what’s happened yet, and they seem a little lost in all the extra space. More space means more toys too, so I have been able to add extra beds, shelves and tubes into their home, which means they have to travel further to get to their food and from one bed to another.

The other thing I’ve bought the guys is a cardboard castle. Even together Derek and I struggled to lift their old cage and put it on the floor, so there was no way we were going to move this one. The castle is really sturdy and the top of it is level with the bottom door of their cage, so it gives them the perfect pace to climb down into. I’ve also got them some tubes which I can hang out the windows of the castle for them to climd down.

Ferplast rabbit two storey cage

The best thing about their new set up is they seem keener to come out now. I think they like having the castle to disappear into and the tubes give them a sneaky way down. All in all I’m really pleased and while the boys aren’t coming out everyday, they do a couple of days a week which is much better for their health and chubbiness levels.

A terrible shock

Our rat Pika peeking out his cardboard castleOur sweet guy Chewie was taken ill a few weeks ago. We thought it was a slight respiratory infection and didn’t worry about it too much. His brother Whisper has always been a bit snuffly and its just one of those things, so we thought it would be the same with Chewie. We took him straight to the vet to got him checked out and our vet wasn’t to concerned either, so he was put on a course of Baytril. We had to go back just over a week later for a followup appointment, Chewie hadn’t improved much but we still weren’t too concerned. Our vet gave us some more medicine and we left. Chewie had got a little upset during his trip to the vet, but few little animals like being bundled up in a pet carrier and taken away from home, but once he knew he was home again he dived into his cage and went to bed seeming fine.

That afternoon Derek and I were sitting in the dining room when Chewie started getting agitated in his cage. I went straight to him, and he obviously wanted to come out so I put him down on the floor. Within minutes his condition had deteriorated and I could see he was barely able to breath. I picked him up and held him to me, which was something Chewie had never let me do before. Then before we could even discuss calling the vet Chewie passed away.

We are still in shock and have no really idea what happened. The other boys seem fine, so we can only hope that what happened to Chewie isn’t something that will affect them, either physically or emotionally.

Not a good week

Whisper in front, Chips and Truffle

Whisper in front, Chips and Truffle

I don’t even know where to begin with this update, other than to just say both of my ‘Choclateers’, Whisper and Truffle have passed away within a week of each other.

Little Whisper has always been a slightly snuffly boy, this combined with his terrible shyness always made him seem a bit sickly, but he was a happy little guy and had no problems getting about. After the peaceful death of our old guy Chips I’d been keeping a close eye on Whisper, the two of them had been very close with Whisper often following Chips around and sleeping next to him. I was concerned Whisper was loosing a bit of weight, when you don’t get to handle your rats it can be hard to tell, but I’d been making sure he got lots of human food and he was eating that with no hesitation. Then on Wednesday the 12th I heard him start to snuffle quite badly and he became very agitated, charging round his cage. Worried he was going to fall down the ramp in their cage, I picked him out. The poor little guy didn’t even care, he started frothing at the mouth and gasping for breath and before I could figure out what to do he’d passed. It was a horrible shock, regardless of the sudden death of my gorgeous boy Wombat, I really thought Whisper was doing okay.

Then yesterday the same thing happened with Whisper’s brother, Truffle. I’m still not even sure what happened, I mean Truffle had always been so healthy. He was a good stocky boy, who was one of the more active and adventurous of the gang. But within minutes of getting into difficulties he’d died in my hands.

All I can say is we buried them together in the garden and I am going to pay extra close attention to their three remaining bothers to make sure they live long and happy lives.

And then there were three

Our sweet boy, Pika

Our sweet boy, Pika

It seems very quiet in our dining room with just the three boys. We don’t see much of the ‘Granolas’, but Pika is as sweet as always, turning up for breakfast and dinner. If it is something particularly yummy, one or both of the ‘Granolas’ will come down and enjoy our dinner with us, but more often than not it’s just Pika.

We have changed their cage back to the smaller version and I have crammed all their beds into the smaller space not wanting to cause them too much disruption. I don’t think they have particularly noticed the change. It certainly is better for me though, the large one was a devil to carry upstairs to clean, even taken apart.

As we head into the new year all I can do is keep an extra close eye on my boys and hope they will be okay. They are such shy little guys it can be hard to know what’s going on with them, but I really do love and want the best for them, even if they are a bit silly.

It's pizza time!

Who doesn’t like pizza? Not my boys that for sure, and if there is one meal that is sure to get my three guys to join us for dinner it’s pizza. The boys cage seems so quiet now there are just the three of them, and it makes us cherish those rare moments when we get to see them all together.

Pika (left corner) Oatie and Maize enjoying some yummy pizza

Pika (left corner) Oatie and Maize enjoying some yummy pizza

Little Pika has passed away

Pika (front) with his two brothers Maize and Oatie

Pika (front) with his two brothers Maize and Oatie

Our sweet guy Pika passed away last night, and even though he and his brothers were a strange little bunch of hermits, we are missing him terribly. For the past week Pika had been under the weather, his breathing was a little wheezy and he wasn’t eating, which was leading to weight loss. We were doing everything we could for him, including feeding him yummy babyhood, but sadly it wasn’t enough and he passed away.

Although we weren’t with our sweet boy, Derek had been in to feed the boys bread at tea time. He didn’t get to see Pika, but he was cozy in his bed, and it was a few hours later I found him in the cage. There was no signs he had got into difficulties, the cage wasn’t disturbed in anyway, it was more like he was heading back to bed and slipped away.

While I didn’t have much physical contact with the boys, I did love to talk to them and watch them shuffling around their cage, and of course feeding them our dinner. Pika reached a good age living his quiet little life with his brothers, and while we had little interaction with him I’m pretty sure he was very happy and knew we loved him very much.

Goodbye to little Oatie

Oatie snuggling in his fleecy tunnel with Pika snoozing above

Oatie snuggling in his fleecy tunnel with Pika snoozing above

More sad news I’m afraid. Little Oatie had been loosing weight for some time. He was still an active little chap, well for the bunch of hermits he and his brothers were, but his weight and dropped quite drastically. At meal times he could still tuck away our human food along with his brothers, but he couldn’t put on any weight. This had been going on for quite some time and nothing we tried, not even baby food, could help him gain weight. Then a few weeks ago we noticed he was struggling with his balance and eating rat food was getting tricky for him. While Oatie wasn’t keen on being handled by us he had no problem consuming his fair-share of baby food.

Towards the end I was feeding him babyfood with a syringe, which he seemed to enjoy and I enjoyed being able to hold him and sneak the odd cuddle once his tummy was nice and full. Sadly though it meant that our little guy was slipping away and he died in my hands after enjoying some food and a drink of water.

Saying goodbye to him, especially so close after Pika’s death is very difficult, but now we have to worry about Maize who is all on his own. He still not keen on being handled, so is getting no contact wth anyone. I’m making sure to feed him yummy treats and talk to him lots through the day, but I’m aware nothing can make up for the company of his brothers. At the moment he is a big healthy boy, so we are going to keep a very close eye on him and do everything we can to make him feel loved.

Goodbye to our super shy boys

I am very sad to say that we had to have our sweet, shy guy Maize put to sleep this morning. Only a few days after Oatie passed away I’d noticed a pea sized lump near Maize’s thigh. It was only small and I mentioned it to Derek, so he didn’t worry about telling me if he found it. Derek didn’t seem surprised at first as he’d been suspicious of a lump, but it was under Maize’s tummy. We knew this wasn’t good, but with Maize’s age (he was pushing three years old) and temperament we knew there was no way we could have him operated on.

We decided just to spoil our sweet boy, while we could, and help him enjoy his final days with us. It was difficult with Maize, because he and his brothers were so shy, it wasn’t like we could pick him up and cuddle him. Still we were able to give him one too many yogurt drops and a bit extra of our food at meal times. Maize seemed very happy with the arrangement.

Maize in his favourite trouser leg bed

Maize in his favourite trouser leg bed

Sadly though, because we don’t get to handle Maize at all, he didn’t even like coming out to play at clean out time, things moved very quickly and before we knew it the lumps were getting huge and affecting Maize’s walking. So we took him straight to the vets and said goodbye.

I feel very peaceful about letting Maize go, being alone and not even playing with us was no life for a little rat. Our vet was incredibly gentle with him, bringing the little container they use to give the rats a bit of gas into the consulting room, so we could pop Maize in it still snuggled in his towels. I don’t think he even thought twice about where he was or what was happening. We brought him home and burred him with all his silly shy brothers.