PomPom, Peanut, Bella, Bijou
Pashmina & Peppy

Febuary 2020

Peppy, PomPom, Bijou, Peanut, Bella & Pashmina

Peppy, PomPom, Bijou, Peanut, Bella & Pashmina

New arrivals!!

Peppy (front) Bijou & Pashmina (behind)

Peppy (front) Bijou & Pashmina (behind)

I am thrilled to say we have some new rattie arrivals, two mums with four of their gorgeous little daughters. Our very shy girls PomPom and Bella were brought into our local RSPCA Centre pregnant, having not been looked after very well by their previous owner. They gave birth at the centre at the same time and raised their little babies together. So it seems only fitting that we should keep these little families together and give them as much love and attention as they want.

We only got our new arrivals yesterday, and they have been settling in really well. Understandably all the rats, with the exception of baby Peppy, are a little unsure of their new home. It will take them a while to settle in, and realise this is forever and things will only get better for them from now on.

Mum and daughter PomPom & Peanut

Mum and daughter, PomPom & Peanut

As I mentioned little Peppy is completely bonkers and wants all the attention she can get, which can be tricky when you are trying to give the rest of her family some space. Having said that, mummy rat PomPom enjoyed a nice walk around our home office this morning. We had been told she’s not big on being handled, but is always trying to leave her cage. Obviously that’s not something that was easy for her to do at the homing centre, but now she’s in our house we didn’t stop her. I’m pleased to say she wandered for a bit then returned to her cage, had a wash then did it all again. It was lovely to watch. Fingers crossed as she realises that coming out to play is an everyday thing she’ll learn to trust us a bit more. I always want my rats to be happy, but I do love rattie cuddles.

For now we are just excited to see how our new little girls settle in and are looking forward to introducing them to our other rats.

Some of our new family just after we got home.

Super cute babies

Pashmina (top left), Peppy, Bijou & Peanut

Pashmina (top left), Peppy, Bijou & Peanut

Settling in nicely

Little Bijou, Bella and Pompom.

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Super happy ratties

Oh my goodness how time flies when you have a family of six super cute rats to keep you entertained. There has been so much change with all six of the girls and they are all so much more than we could have hoped for. Everyone has settled in well, especially the mums, Bella and PomPom. They have been through a lot, overcoming the stress of their previous life in their own little ways.

Bella

Our beautiful brown hooded rat, BellaWhen we first adopted Bella she was very tense. Understandably so, having been taken from a home while pregnant, where she wasn’t cared for properly. Then having her babies at the RSPCA, before finally moving in with us. There was a lot of change and stress in her life, I don’t even want to think about it.

Bella would let us hold her, but you could feel a rigidity in her body, as though she was only tolerating us. Over time that changed and her body relaxed, even enjoyed a bit of a cuddle. Bella started climbing on us and wanted to be handled. Most amazing was her face, her features changed dramatically when she really started believing in her new life with us. We always thought Bella was a pretty girl, but her face became soft and happy. I’m pretty sure Bella’s relaxed attitude had a positive effect on the babies as well.

There was a little hiccup along the way though. As the babies started to get more confident they demanded more of our attention. The made Bella a bit upset, so we made sure to always give her lots of cuddles at playtime, even if we are being swarmed by the babies.

PomPom

PomPom and Lindsay

PomPom and Lindsay

We were warned from the outset that PomPom was a character, and they were right, but for all the wrong reasons. At the homing centre PomPom was a bit standoffish and always wanted to escape her cage. That hasn’t changed, she loves to head off on her little adventures, but my goodness she is a big, cuddly, softie now. PomPom love cuddles and if she doesn’t get them she can be a bit naughty. Nothing terrible, but I can’t bare the thought of her thinking we don’t love her.

PomPom has lots of fun on her escaping adventures. Come playtime she is the first out of the cage and out across the room before we know she’s gone. One lap of our home office and she’ll be back for cuddles or treats. While the babies are small we keep the girls shut in the office because we do have two cats and as soft as they are we don’t want to take any risks. At nighttime feeding PomPom is off like a shot. None of the other girls are interested in coming out at bedtime so PomPom is free to wander wherever she wants.

While PomPom has the run of the upstairs, she finds the stairs bit scary. Not that it’s a problem, there’s plenty for her to explore and climb upstairs. It also makes it much easier for us to keep an eye on her. Our little cat Jessie is pretty much a house cat, and she adores PomPom. She will go flying around while PomPom is running about. It doesn’t scare PomPom, on the contrary she seems to want to follow Jessie, there is no aggression between the two which is lovely. I think it’s a good friendship for both of them.

Peppy

Our rat Peppy out exploringFrom the beginning Peppy was the most outgoing of the babies and that’s still the same. One thing that has changed with little Peppy is her fur. I was so thrilled with our new arrivals and I didn’t pay much attention to Peppy’s silver stripe or her dark eyes – well that was until she started to fade! Our beautiful little rat is a husky! Peppy’s fur is now a kind of dirty grey and I’m guessing she’s going to be fully white by the time she’s finished fading. What a lovely surprise, I do love husky rats.

As well as being the most adventurous of the four babies, Peppy is also the most affectionate. That wonderful feeling of a baby rat jumping on you from nowhere, like she’s been thrown at you! Of course it’s just super, happy, baby rat exuberance, but she does land with a plop and want cuddles. Once you’ve got her she goes all wiggly, but put her down and she’ll have a happy bounce before landing on you again. Hours of fun!

Bijou

Our young rat, BijouAt the homing centre the staff felt Bella and Bijou were very close. It wasn’t just that they look alike, but they were often found together. Someone else was was planing to adopt two of the six babies, but when I decided to take the remaining babies and mums, the RSPCA staff chose to keep Bijou and Bella together. And they were right, Bijou does seem very close to her mum. Bijou is a very happy and active little girl, but there are times, such as when they go in after playtime you will always find Bijou near her mum.

Bijou is a lovely little girl and she has the softest fur. Of course she is still a baby, so their fur is always very soft, but my goodness even compared to the other babies her coat is amazing. Getting a cuddle with this Bijou is a super soft treat.

After Peppy she is the second most crazy active baby. Although she is very close to Bella, she’s very happy to find her own way at playtime and she loves to play with her sisters.

Peanut

Our little rat, Peanut, peaking out from under a unitGoodness our Peanut is growing into a right bruiser, mostly in size if not in temperament. She is a big solid baby. When you hold her, she’s quite a weight and not in a ’squishy I’ve eaten too many treats’ way. She’s grey like PomPom, though a shade or two darker, we don’t know if they are mum and daughter.

Despite her size Peanut is a sweet little girl, being very gentle with her sisters and two mums. She’s finding her confidence a bit slower than Peppy and Bijou and there are times when we have to stop her sleeping though playtimes. She doesn’t mind being woken up and most of the time she’ll come out and have fun. Being only young were happy not to push her too hard, but we don’t want that solid muscle turning into a chubby tummy if she doesn’t run around enough.

Pashmina

Our grey hooded rat, PashminaLast we have Pashmina — what a funny little girl. Derek and I aren’t quite sure what to make of her. Don’t get me wrong, she is adorable and we love her very much, she’s just a little difficult to connect with. Normally you can win rats over with kindness, treats and happy, regular playtimes, but not Pashmina. We cannot find a single treat she wants to eat! There is nothing wrong with her appetite, she looks healthy and is growing normally, she’s just in her own little world.

It makes us happy she’s with her family, even though at times she looks at them as though they are bonkers. They all get along brilliantly, especially her and Peppy, we will often find her following Peppy around. Not even Peppy bouncing out the cage can convince Pashmina to leave. Luckily it’s a nice big cage, so she’ll get exercise wandering around and climbing.



Peppy has odd eyes!

We knew little Peppy was a husky rat, that was very obvious when her silver streak completely disappeared and she ended up white, but I had never heard of odd eyes in rats before.

I’d always thought there was something off about Peppy’s eyes. In certain lights one never looked that inky black you see with husky rats, but she’s so bouncy its hard to tell what’s going on. Then the other day she was sitting on my lap starting at me and there was no mistaking it.

Having never seen or heard of odd eyes before I checked some rattie forums to make sure I wasn’t imagining it, and sure enough odd eyes is a thing. Our precious little, bouncy rat is an odd eyed husky — who’d have thought?

Her left eye is black and her right eye is red

Her left eye is black and her right eye is red

The adventures of PomPom

While her family stays home at night, PomPom sneaks out and enjoys an evening excursion. While out she meets up with her new best friend Jessie.

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You can do it

Out and about adventuring with PomPom.

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Sweet Bella has a lump!

Oh my, things are a little stressful right now. Bella has got a lump under her armpit, it is quite soft and squidgy, but after much deliberation we’ve decided to have it removed. At first we weren’t sure what was the right course of action. As an adopted rat, Bella is very sensitive and we were worried how being away from home and her family would affect her. But the thought of losing her to a lump was too scary to ignore, so we have booked her in for surgery. Unfortunately, with the UK still being in lockdown and with Easter coming up, which is a big Bank Holiday in the UK, her surgery is still a few weeks away.

Bijou, Peanut and Bella

Bijou, Peanut and Bella

We are not worried about the size of the lump, as fortunately it is not growing too quickly and are taking comfort in the fact she is booked in. So now we can try not to worry about it for a few weeks.

PomPom

PomPom

The babies and PomPom are all happy and healthy, though PomPom is a still a chubby girl. With six rats it is hard to limit their food. I have bought some different rat food to mix in with their normal nuggets. Stashing food is very important to PomPom and Bella, they obviously weren’t cared for properly in their first home and I sometimes wonder if they went hungry. Not that they need to worry now, I make sure they have plenty of food, because it stresses them if they get a bit low. These new nuggets are bigger and I thought it would give them something to stash, but maybe be harder to eat. It didn’t happen that way, everyone went bonkers for the new food. Things have settled down a bit now, but time will tell if PomPom will slim down a bit.

Despite our concerns for Bella, the girls are all super happy, cuddly and enjoying all the extra attention of us being in lockdown gives them. It is hard to believe that Derek has been working form home for a year now, only a month after we got the girls. Lockdown may be a scary at times, but getting to spend all this extra time with all our critters has certainly been a very happy upside for us and the ratties.

Super brave, beautiful Bella

Our sweet little Bella had her operation yesterday and I am very happy to say it was good news – her horrible lump was an abscess!

Our beautiful rat, Bella, showing off her post surgery bald patch.

The morning of her surgery was not easy. Bella came out to play as normal with her family and had a great time. She went in happily and was even up and waiting for me when it was time to collect her to take her to the vet, which was a relief. I feel so mean if I have to drag them out of bed.

Everything was going fine until she laid eyes on the pet carrier. As soon as I lowered her towards it she panicked and ran up my arm. This happened several times and in the end I carried her downstairs on my shoulder, bringing the carrier with us. I thought being in an unfamiliar room would distract her, and it did to some extent. We had a bit of a wrestle, but I got in her in the pet carrier and shut the lid without any trapped fingers or tails.

She wasn’t happy on the drive to the vet, and when we got there and parked I as able to open her carrier and she squeaked when I touched her. It just about broke my heart, knowing I was scaring our little girl like that, but it did have to be done. Fortunately it didn’t take long for someone to come and collect her. Not that I wanted to leave her, but it at least meant she was nearer her surgery and coming home again.

We got a call just after twelve, to tell us Bella was okay and we could collect her a bit later at two o’clock. They also explained that the horrible lump that had been growing under her armpit was in fact an abscess. It was a strange kind of shock at first, then as it sank in as a huge relief.

The lump had come up a couple of months ago and at first we thought it was just a bit of chub, but then it began to grow and form more of a defined lump. Our first thought was a tumour. We’ve experienced abscesses with rats before, and usually they have presented as horrible, hot lumps that start to turn black and burst of their own accord. The lump Bella had was nothing like that, it always seemed quite soft, and understandably she didn’t like us looking at it, never mind touching it.

The fact that it had been growing for so long, with no sign of bursting, says we did the right thing getting her surgery, no matter how stressful it had been. The vet cleaned the abscess out while she was under anaesthetic and left the small hole open, to help it drain and heal naturally. Bella was understandably a little stressed when she got home, although I’m pretty sure the relief of having that horrible infection removed made her feel a lot better.

It is always difficult taking adopted rats away from their home and family, and Bella was no different. I always find rats who’ve been with us from babies and have had no traumas, cope much better with vet visits. They may not like what is happening to them, but having not experienced anything traumatic, they are just a bit stressed by the intrusion. With adopted rats, my biggest fear is they think I’m sending them away, like with how Bella reacted so badly to the sight of the pet carrier, never mind being put in it.

Of course I’ll never know what they really think, but she certainly knew when she was home. As soon as I stepped through the front door Bella emerged from her towel nest, where she’d been hidden since we collected her, and was ready to rejoin her family. When I picked her up to pop her back in her home, she did squeak, not that I blame her for being cross with me. Within minutes of being home she was chomping on rat food in the safety of an igloo and looking really good.

Later that night she came out to play, after being given some rat nuggets that she stashed. Obviously that was a sign that things were okay, because she came down and joined her family in running around.

That was yesterday, and this morning she was back to her old self at play time, you wouldn’t know what she’d been through or that she has a little hole under her armpit. This morning was also clean out time, which didn’t stress her at all, which was nice. She also seems to have forgiven me for dragging her off yesterday. So, hopefully we can put it all behind us, get our Bella all healed up and not think about lumps or bumps ever again.

Beautiful Bella

A double blow for our family

It is with a very heavy heart I write that both our sweet and bouncy little Peppy and our darling sensitive girl Bella have both passed away. Derek and I are still struggling with the loss of our two girls, combined with the passing of one of our degus, we are in a lot of pain.

Peppy

We’d known Peppy was poorly for some time now and were just enjoying caring for her and making her has happy as we could. Just over a month ago we had noticed signs of weakness. Peppy was struggling to hold food to eat it and she wasn’t quite as agile as normal. We suspected, and our vet agreed, it was probably a brain tumour, but other than problems eating hard foods Peppy was still happy and active. So we began supplementing her diet with baby food, which she loved, and keeping an extra close eye on her.

Peppy on Lindsay's knee

Peppy on Lindsay's knee

Sadly Peppy’s condition did continue to decline, slowly at first. She stopped eating rat food and limited herself to the downstairs of the rat cage. Our girls live in a big double story cage and downstairs there are tubes, a hanging bed and litter tray, so Peppy had everything she needed. We also gave her as much baby food as she wanted and started to give her broken up bits of breakfast cereal, which she enjoyed. As Derek works from home now, he was also able to keep an eye on her in case she needed anything.

Towards the end we did start to notice her getting more tired and she would often need help while eating just to make sure she didn’t topple into her baby food. Then suddenly she seemed to lose all her balance making it hard for her to walk and we knew we had to let our sweet girl go. It was a hard decision, but of course we knew we had no choice and we took Peppy straightaway.

Peppy was always the most outgoing of her rattie family and the most unique. Right from being a baby she was wanting to explore, while her mums and sisters were still getting used to their new home. Peppy also had her odd eye and was a husky, her colour fading to completely white within a rather short space of time. To say we are missing her is an understatement – she was still a young girl and even knowing she was poorly we weren’t ready to say goodbye.

Bella

After the heartbreak fo saying goodbye to Peppy and the sudden loss of our degu, Roo, the last thing we expected was to loose another rat. Sadly on Friday night when we came to see the girls for their evening play we saw there was something terribly wrong with Bella. As Derek opened up the cage to wake everyone up, he found Bella flat out in one of the plastic igloos. We expected the rats might be a little more lethargic than normal, just because they’d recently lost Peppy. Sometimes they can be glum after losing a family member, just like us, but when I reached in to touch her it was obvious there was something wrong. As I lifted her out of the igloo I saw a dark stain around her bottom. Completely shocked at finding her like that, I thought the best thing was to clean her up, so I took her to the bathroom and gave her a very gentle wash. It didn’t take much to clean her and she lay in my hand, not totally unresponsive but not resisting either. It was when I was towel drying her I realised something was terribly wrong. There was a large lump in her tummy. I was shocked and utterly heartbroken.

Bella sitting on the steps to their home

Bella sitting on the steps to their home

As soon as she was dry I took her back to Derek and he confirmed that he could feel a mass as well. We knew what we had to do, the lump was deep inside her, where even if small enough it would be difficult to remove. All vets in our area were closed then, so I changed the paper bedding inside the igloo Bella had been in. Derek offered her some baby food, but she didn’t want it. Only a few days before she, like the other rats, had been very interested in getting a taste of Peppy’s food. Sadly she was now too poorly to care about yummy baby food, so all I could do was put her gently back in her igloo and try to make her comfortable.

Sweetly, one of the daughter rats, Pashmina went in to be with Bella and she seemed to enjoy that. Later that night when I checked on her PomPom was with her. The next morning as soon as they opened we called our vet and got an appointment. Although we are still unable to go into our vets building for appointments and have to talk to the vet in the carpark, we got a really nice vet who loves rats as much as we do. She was very sympathetic to our shock and took good care of Bella for us, confirming after she had passed there was a walnut sized lump probably inside her uterus. It was a little comforting to know that even if we had noticed it sooner there was nothing that could have been done without a very serious operation.

There is no way to know how old Bella and PomPom are, but we have had them over a year and a half now. So I do like to hope they are a good age and Derek and I did everything we could to make her new life with us as special as it could be and make up for the not-so-good start to life she’d experience before.

I remember the stressed little rat she was when she joined our family. Getting very possessive when I cleaned the cage out and how with time her face changed as she realised this was her forever home. She went from being quite stern to such a beautiful and playful girl who only deserved the best in her rattie life. It was such an honour to adopt her and be able to keep some of her babies with her, and I hope it made her as happy as she made us.

We all miss mum

Lindsay passed away suddenly and everyone is heartbroken.

Pompom’s entry:

Mum has stopped coming to play with us and feed us. Dad cleaned out our home and he’s never done that before. He comes to let us out and we’ve been outside a couple of times but we couldn’t find mum and we don’t want to play outside if she’s not there. Bijou and Pashmina are scared, Peanut tries to pretend she isn’t, but I can tell.

I still like to go for a wonder at bedtime and the first few times I hoped that if I looked hard enough I would find mum but I didn’t.

Dad takes care of us, he comes to see us and play with us but it’s not the same without mum. She was so special to us all.

Pompom