Polar, Panda & Tiny

March 2010 - April 2012

Tiny (top), Polar & Panda

Polar (top), Tiny & Panda

Our three unexpected arrivals

Panda and Polar with Tiny peeking out under the bookcase

Panda and Polar with Tiny peeking out under the bookcase

When we were at the pet store yesterday collecting our little girls Tula and Tilly, I caught sight of a beautiful big boy rat. He obviously wasn’t a baby and I couldn’t resist having a little look at him. There were two other rats in the tank with him, though I only saw their noses peaking out at me. I felt so bad for the big guy, as most people only want baby rats and growing up in a pet store is no life for such an intelligent little critter.

As we were there picking up our new girls there was nothing I could do, and I didn’t think Derek would be too impressed if I asked for more rats then and there. So I decided to wait until we were home and our new girls were settled. Not that I needed to worry, as Derek was thinking about the big beautiful boy too.

So, the next day we headed back to the pet store and enquired about the boys. The shop assistant told us that the big rat – who we’ve called Tiny, because he’s so shy and timid - had been with them for 4 months! That just about broke my heart. Panda is pretty much identical to Tiny in both size and markings, with Polar being quite a bit smaller. I’m not really sure what Polar’s story is as I was already sold on having all three boys and didn’t listen to what the girl said about him!

Polar (left), Panda (top) & Tiny (right)

Polar (left), Panda (top) & Tiny (right)

Once home the boys were thrilled with their new cage, though Panda and Tiny were a little nervous about climbing. Polar is very brave and inquisitive, so I’m sure he’ll get his brothers exploring the cage in no time. Rats can’t stand by and let someone else have all the fun.

Little helpers

My gorgeous boys are all full of fun and adventure, they also like to keep and eye on us at clean out time. Every week, Derek and I take their cage apart and give it a thorough was. When it comes back, Polar and Panda are always first on the scene, and shy little Tiny is not to far away.

Goodbye to Tiny

Tiny, helping clean his cage out

Tiny helping clean his cage out

I am very sad to say that our sweet, shy boy Tiny has passed away. We first noticed something was wrong about a week ago. Derek and I had sat down to eat tea with the boys, Derek sits in an armchair, which the boys can easily climb onto if they want so see him, and I sit on the floor with them and feed them bits of bread. Panda and Polar came charging out as usual, but Tiny was a little reluctant. He was always a bit of timid rat, but this was different.

After a bit of coaxing he did come to where his brothers were being fed, but instead of having some bread he lay flat out on the floor. It was difficult to see him like that, but there was nothing we could do, and fortunately he didn’t appear to be in any distress, so we waited. Eventually he got up, as if nothing had happened, and started scoffing bread just like his brothers. We told ourselves it was just one of those things, but sadly the next morning it became apparent Tiny wasn’t well.

Tiny, cuddled up with his two brothers

Tiny cuddled up with his two brothers

As he had no real symptoms, other than not being quite himself, we decided not to take him to the vets. Tiny was well over two years old, and we felt the stress of taking Tiny to the vet would be detrimental to him. So, we kept a very close eye on our sweet guy, and gradually over the week his energy levels and appetite decreased. We started feeding Tiny baby food, but as the week progressed he got to the point where he would only lick baby food from our finger tips. On his final day it became obvious he was slipping away. He had been fine with his brothers in their cage, but he had become very still on that last day and his two brothers weren’t being very careful around him. Rather than leave Tiny to get a bit trampled and shoved around by Polar and Panda, they didn’t understand that Tiny didn’t want to play or cuddle up to sleep, I kept him with me. I wrapped him in a nice soft towel and he seemed very peaceful and I knew he was safe. It was mid-afternoon when he gently passed away.

While it is never easy to say goodbye to any little critter, Derek and I took comfort in knowing he slipped away peacefully, and we were able to be there and care for him right up until the end.

Trouble with Panda

Panda with his brother Tiny

Panda with his brother Tiny

Rats are very sensitive creatures and they share very strong bonds with their cage mates, as well as us humans. Only a few days after Tiny’s death we realised Panda was struggling. Rather like Tiny, Panda’s energy levels and appetite started to drop off, however Panda had more of a sadness about him, rather than the tiredness we felt from Tiny. The main difference we saw between Tiny’s illness and Panda’s behaviour is that Panda wanted to be alone. If his brother, Polar, tried to cuddle up to him, Panda would immediately get up and shuffle off. He was also behaving funny with us, rejecting our attention and being very grumpy.

It became obvious very quickly that he wasn’t eating, mainly as he wouldn’t take any treats from us, so we got him straight on some baby food. Unlike Tiny, whose appetite decrease over time, Polar was just not interested, he would turn away no matter what we offered him. Having just said goodbye to our sweet guy Tiny, we were not going to loose Panda. After a lot of persuading and offering him baby food on our finger tips, Panda slowly started to eat. Once we had got a bit of food into him, his appetite soon returned. After a few days of baby food, Panda started taking other treats, and then began helping himself to rat food. His mood also began to lift and he wanted to come out and play and be with his brother Polar again.

We are so relived to have our cuddly boy Panda back to his old self again.

More bad news...

Our beautiful rat, Polar

Our handsome boy, Polar

I am very, very sad to say that our silly boy Polar has passed away yesterday. After Tiny’s death and Panda being so upset, we had been spoiling the boys with a lot of extra treats, nothing naughty mind; bran flakes, a bit of our dinner and some fresh bread. They had been loving it, but about a week ago I noticed Polar’s eating was slowing down. His appetite was still the same, but he was taking longer to get through his food, and his fur was starting to look a little scruffy, in every other way he was fine. The boys are getting on a bit, and they were never big fans of running around at the best of times so his activity level didn’t noticably change. Even so, we knew our little guy wasn’t okay.

All we could do was keep on spoiling them and keep an eye out for any problems. Then yesterday at tea time I was in the kitchen, Derek and I had just given the boys some bread, which they had both taken happily, I heard a slight rustle of paper. I went in to check on the boys, and Polar had passed away. Although we weren’t with Polar, we can take comfort in the fact that we had just been with him, and that he’d been enjoying one of his favourite treats, yummy freshly baked bread.

New cage mates for Panda

Panda saying 'Hello' to Powy

Panda saying 'Hello' to Powy

Our super sweet old boy Panda, has been very lonely since the death of his brother, Polar. He’d been moping around quite a bit, not really wanting to leave his bed, or eat and drink. We’ve been giving him attention and cuddles, but we can’t make up for the fun of having some little rattie friends to share his home with. We had not planned to get more rats, but fate intervened while on a trip to the pet shop when we spotted two super cute little husky boys. How could we resist?

We don’t expect the new arrivals to replace Panda’s brothers, and they haven’t, but Panda looks a lot brighter since they moved into his home. Mostly Panda sits up in his hammock and watches the chaos below, and the new boys know to stay away from the grumpy old rat :-) The important thing is that Panda is being much more active, he’s coming down to eat and drink and wanting to come out and play too. Panda is such a sweet old guy, I’m not anticipating any trouble between the rats, though I will keep and eye out to make sure Panda doesn’t get trampled in all the baby rattie excitement.

We will keep monitoring Panda, but I’m really hopeful that our new additions are going to continue to have a very positive effect on him.

Goodbye to Panda

Our beautiful rat, PandaI’m very sorry to say that our big cuddly, gorgeous boy, Panda passed away in the night.

We’d said goodnight to the boys like we always did and Panda was in his hammock all cosy and happy, but sadly when we came down and checked on him this morning he had slipped away. He looked pretty much like we’d led left him, so I think he slipped away peacefully in his sleep.

We fell in love with Panda, Polar and Tiny as as fully grown boys, who no-one else wanted. Though a bit shy when we got them, they all blossomed into gorgeous, fun and happy boys. We are so glad to have had them in our lives, and I like to think they enjoyed being part of our family as well.