Sapphire, Ruby, Topaz & Opal

April 2019

Sapphire, Ruby, Topaz & Opal

Sapphire, Ruby, Topaz & Opal

Four precious little gems

Opal and Sapphire

Opal and Sapphire

We’d been umming and ahhing about getting more little rats for a while. Our sweet rattie girl, Sundew, is getting quite old now, and while we love her dearly Derek and I felt would be a good time for some baby rats to join our family. As we’d had so many girl rats these past few years, it seemed like a good time to get a pair of cuddly boys again. As with all these things nothing goes according to plan, and while looking for two boy rats, we went and fell in love with some sweet little girls – four of them! After years of having rats, I don’t like splitting up family groups. You never know who is the dominant rat, who is more bonded with who, or maybe I just have love to be overrun with little rats. Whatever the reason I couldn’t chose between these four beautiful sisters, so Derek had no choice but to get them all :-).

Three of the girls are blue (I’m not to into rat colouring, but I think thats what their called) and one is black. As they are all so precious it only seemed fair that they should be named after gems. Sapphire is the black one, Topaz is the palest of the three blue girls, Ruby is slightly darker and little Opal has a white tummy and pink tip on her tail. It sounds very wimple here, but I’m pretty sure Derek and I will be getting them confused until we get to know them a bit better.

For now though our new arrivals are settling into their new home and making themselves right at home in all their new beds.

A handful of rats!

Here are the four of our new little arrivals together. Not the greatest picture, but they are wiggly little babies and don’t want to sit sill, even if I ask them nicely.

 Ruby (left), Sapphire (standing on Ruby), Opal and Topaz

Ruby (left), Sapphire (standing on Ruby), Opal and Topaz

Happy babies

Topaz in a quiet moment

Topaz in a quiet moment

Derek and I have been having lots of baby rattie fun over the past three weeks getting to know our new arrivals. Topaz is the craziest of the bunch. She was the first out their cage exploring and now she has her confidence up she dominates playtime. I love having a crazy happy rat running around, but she can make it difficult to get to know the other girls. Sapphire is doing okay, she’s not that far behind Topaz in the crazy, adventurous stakes, but Opal and Ruby are a little more reserved. They both love to come out and play, but they do get a little overwhelmed when Topaz, who has managed to climb something, drops down unexpectedly or goes bouncing past giving them a fright.

Topaz’s crazy ways can also make interacting with Opal and Ruby difficult. She’s one of those little critters who has to be the centre of everything, so when we reach for one rat we get a handful of Topaz, and if we try and ignore her she’ll just climb on us anyway. Oh we are loving life with Topaz, but I would like to give a bit more attention to my two shy girls. Still, they are all only babies and I know how these things work, before I know it there will be all four rats climbing over me looking for treats and cuddles.

The other not very serious problem we are having is the girls are all so fast, or maybe Derek and I are just getting a bit old! Either way, we are struggling to get any pictures or videos of the girls running around. Videos just tend to be the tip of a tail as we try and track someone bouncing around or the blur of a rat coming to see the camera. Crazy Topaz also loves the silicone cases our phones are in, so we spend a lot of time defending our devices from rattie attacks. What fun :-)


Fruity time

The only time our little gems sit still…


Air-conditioned ratties

We love our little girls very much, but we have beens struggling to get to know them as well as we’d like. At first I thought they were just a bit on the timid side. They loved to come out of their cage, but they spent most of their out of cage time running around underneath my desk rather than exploring the office. We’ve been giving them time and gradually they started climbing a bit more, but were still a bit timid and very easy to startle.

A few weeks ago we had air-conditioning installed in our home office and while its not been partially hot here in the UK, the difference in the girls is amazing. As I write this they have been out and about for over an hour and are currently running rampage all over Derek’s desk (they have never been up there before). It is amazing to see, the change in them is so sudden.

Ruby is the smallest and so far the shyest of the girls, and even she has been climbing on me enjoying a cuddle. We were looking forward to having the AC, but now it has had such an incredible impact on our rats, it seems like an a amazing gift.


A scary operation for Topaz

Our beautiful grey rat, Topaz, out and aboutOur beautiful little girl, Topaz is still only very young, she’s not even one yet and I’m very concerned to say we have found a lump on our precious little Gem. It appeared quite quickly and is very soft. There were a few times I thought I felt a lump, but when I tried to feel for it I couldn’t find it. With Topaz being so young, I tired to tell myself it was in my imagination. Fortunately I did not ignore my concerns and told Derek, who was thinking the same thing but didn’t want to upset me.

With both of us suspecting the same thing we gave our wiggly little Topaz a thorough check over, which she did not appreciate, and sure enough found a squidgy lump. As much as we wanted to keep our baby rat home with us we knew what we had to do and Derek called our vet straight away.

Unfortunately things were not go smoothly. Our local and regular vet had recently been taken over by one of these large veterinary chains. Our first shock was they’d put all their prices up, a surgery on a little rat like Topaz would cost as much as an operation on a cat! Now of course we’re not concerned about the money, but it did not reflect well on their dedication to small animals. Secondly our usual vet, who was not happy at the new small animal pricing policy, was also unwell. Although she was able to perform a consultation with Topaz she was not well enough to carry out the surgery. Our vet had already limited small animal consultations to one specialist vet, which we didn’t mind, because she was great, but this was just too much. Ama, our vet actually recommended we go elsewhere with Topaz, so we did.

Topaz just before her surgery

Topaz just before her surgery

All the drama with our usual vet delayed Topaz’s surgery a bit and her lump was growing quite quickly, so we were getting very upset with it all. There is another veterinary surgery in our local area who are great, they are just not as close to us as our usual vet. We arrange for Topaz to see them as soon as we could. They were great and agreed to book Topaz in without a consultation first, which was lovely of them.

We took Topaz in this morning and had a little chat with the vet, just to make sure everything was as described. We’ve been through many a surgery with our little rats, but the waiting never gets easier and I was so very happy to collect our groggy little Topaz mid-afternoon.

She’s a floppy little bundle of sleepiness and her sisters have no idea what to make of her. I know some people like to keep their rats separate after an operation but I’ve never had much success at it. My little rats always seem so much happier with the comfort of their siblings to keep them warm. Of course I keep a close eye on them to make sure everyone is calm and no-one messes with the wound.

Right now all the girls are quiet, well except for Topaz, who will not leave her tummy alone. There is no distracting her and I am sure she is chewing her stitches — sigh.

There’s nothing I can do about it right now, other than tell her off gently and complain here! We’ll see how she is tomorrow, we have lots of medicine for her and at least I have some experience of open wounds!

Naughty Topaz

Our sweet rat TopazFirst off, she is fine and healing very well after her surgery, with no thanks to her own naughtiness. As suspected Topaz did open up her stitches. It turned into a constant battle trying to distract her from her wound, one Derek and I lost. Still, Topaz is doing fine, she’s been on pain medication and antibiotics, so we just had to focus on keeping her wound clean.

I don’t know if it’s because she’s so young or not having the wound restitched helped, but Topaz is healing up quickly. Our vet did want to restitch the wound, but we decided against it. Having been through this before with our naughty girl Blossom, we were concerned she’d just open the stitches again, plus the stress of another anaesthetic. Who knows what the right thing is, but Topaz is happy and her wound is closing up well.

Out of the Gems, Topaz is the most active and that has not changed with all this upset, though I think it was Derek and I who are most concerned. We will continue to keep a very close eye on our naughty little girl and on all our girls – they are so beautiful and precious even if they’re not all as active as I would hope, but that’s another story.

We have no previous experience of tumours in such young rats and whether it increases the chance of a new tumour growing. For now though we are grateful that she is happy, healthy and none the worse for her ordeal.

Sapphire, Topaz, Ruby and Opal being silly over milkshake

Sapphire, Topaz, Opal and Ruby being silly over milkshake

An operation for Sapphire

Our little rat, Sapphire sitting on an office chairOh goodness me, after the upset of Topaz having a lump removed at such a young age and a very unsettling start to the year with the pandemic rocking the world right now, we were pretty shocked to discover our beautiful Sapphire had a lump growing. At just over a year in age, Sapphire like her sister is still very young, though I’m happy to report Topaz is still healthy and happy after her surgery.

There is never a good time for our little critters to be poorly, but when you are barely able to leave the house for any reason it is pretty much the worst. We weren’t sure what to expect with getting Sapphire treated, and I’m sorry to say it was much worse than we thought.

On discovering Sapphire’s lump the first thing we did was call the vet. We knew they were closed for vaccinations and general appointments, but we thought this tumour would be an emergency. Sadly we were wrong. Unless the animals condition was immediately life threatening it was not an emergency. Now we knew that if the lump got too big, it couldn’t be removed, but it wasn’t going to kill her. It was devastating news and I was too shocked to think about it. Fortunately Derek managed to keep a level head and he just kept sending photos of the lump to our vets. The lump was increasing in size quite quickly, and thank goodness, after just over a week we got a call from our vets asking us to bring Sapphire in for surgery.

The day of the surgery we weren’t able to have a consultation with the vet, instead having to sit out in our car until a nurse came out to collect Sapphire. Taking little animals for surgery is difficult at the best of times, but that was hard, still we were so relieved to actually have the operation.

Letting Sapphire explore our car before her surgery

Letting Sapphire explore our car before her surgery

We were back at the vet that afternoon sitting in our car waiting for Sapphire to be returned to us. It was such a relief to have our sleepy little girl back. We brought her straight home and returned her to her sisters. Sapphire wasn’t too interested in company, and hid herself away in their plastic igloo and her sisters left her alone.

It didn’t take long for Sapphire to sleep off her anaesthetic and the next day we found her cuddled up with her sisters in a nice fluffy bed. It was lovely to see, she is still obviously quite sore but she looks very happy to be home.

All healed up

Sapphire feeling much better

Sapphire feeling much better

Oh my goodness the world is still in turmoil, but I’m very happy to report Sapphire is all healed up wonderfully. Unlike her naughty sister, Topaz, Sapphire did not mess with her stitches at all and the wound has pretty much healed up at super rattie speed. All that is left now is a bald patch and a bit of a rumple on her skin.

We are so very proud of our little girl, she did amazingly well. The bright side of the pandemic is that we didn’t have to take Sapphire back to the vet for a checkup. Instead we just got a follow-up phone call to make sure everything had healed up. The hardest part was getting Sapphire to stop wiggling so we could take a picture of her tummy and send it to the vet!

Fingers crossed there will be no more lumps and bumps with our sweet girls, or any of our critters for that matter.

The Gems looking for treats

The Gems looking for treats

Happy rat mischief

After the upset of two scary operations on our girls in less than a year, and at such a young age, I’m very pleased the Gems are all happy and healthy. There have been no more lumps and the girls are all nice and active, when they feel like it anyway.

Here my girls are being silly and looking for things to nibble.

happy rats

Milkshake monsters

Every Saturday morning Derek and I treat ourselves to a milkshake. Not a fancy ice cream one, but some nice flavoured milk. We cycle out to the shops to do our weekly shop on a Saturday, so its a nice treat. Because we head out first thing shopping, its rattie playtime when we get back, which means we have to drink it with the Gems, so of course we have to share it with them too!

Things always start off well:

Topaz, Sapphire and Ruby

Topaz, Sapphire and Ruby

But it doesn’t take long for the silliness to start:

Topaz and Sapphire

Topaz and Sapphire

Oh they are silly girls and we do love them.

Oh Topaz

Not the greatest news I’m afraid, our cheeky little Topaz has had another lump. This time it was under her armpit. We noticed it over Christmas and in spite of our normal one surgery rule, we decided to get it removed. Topaz was so very young when she had her first surgery, it seemed cruel to hold a rule that was decided for older rats against her.

She had the surgery on the 11th, a few weeks ago. It was a very scary time, Topaz was quite down after her surgery, though she is picking up now. Her wound healed up nicely, and she didn’t play with it like last time, but she didn’t bounce back as quickly as we’d have hoped. It was a very expensive surgery, so I’m guessing it was more complicated, and maybe being under anaesthetic for longer has made everything worse for our little girl. Whatever is going on we’ve been extra caring for Topaz, making sure her sisters don’t steal her treats and giving her a little bit extra.

Topaz showing off her shaved side

Topaz showing off her shaved side

We are aware that the chances of another tumour are scarily high now with Topaz, but all we can do is wait and see. Obviously we won’t put her through another surgery, especially after this one was so hard on her. So, we’re going to be positive and hope that she’s okay and gets to enjoy a long and happy life with her sisters.

Now Ruby!

More lumps I’m afraid, this time out sweet shy girl, Ruby. Oh goodness it’s been a lot to process. Topaz has made a wonderful recovery from her operation, all that’s left is for her fur to grow back. She’s still quite patchy where her side was shaved, but her wound is all healed and she’s back to her old naughty self. With Topaz’s recovery we thought we were through the worst, and had hoped this would be the end of rattie lumps, but sadly no. We noticed a lump on Ruby, on her tummy next to her back left leg, just like Topaz’s first and Sapphire’s and knew we had to get it removed.

Ruby had her surgery on the 26th of February, a week ago now and I’m pleased to say she came through it incredibly well. The vets were a little concerned that Ruby wasn’t eating after her surgery, but once she was home with her sisters she was happier than we could ever wish for after such an ordeal. Her wound healed up very quickly and Ruby has carried on with life like nothing happened. I must admit I was very scared, because she is such a sensitive and shy girl. She’s one of those rats who loves you but needs her sisters with her to be confident and happy. Still she coped amazingly with being away from home and we are both so proud of her.

Our beautiful rat, Ruby

Fingers crossed our beautiful Gems are though all the lumps and worries and we can all enjoy all our extra time together while in lockdown!

Not good news

It is with very sad heart that I have to say that Topaz has another lump. This time under the other armpit, and I think this time it is best we don’t do anything about it. We love Topaz so very much, like we do all our girls, but another surgery would be too much for her, and of course there could be more lumps. She is very happy and active, although I did notice before her last surgery she had lost a bit of weight. She’s not skinny, but she is no longer as muscular as her sisters, though that does not stop her getting into all sorts of trouble.

There is always a risk with rats and lumps, but fortunately we’ve never experienced recurring lumps. We are going to do everything we can to keep Topaz happy and healthy for as long as we can. For now we are trying to stay positive for our little girl.

Ruby made a full recovery form her surgery, which is wonderful news, and her fur is growing back nicely. Hopefully she and the other girls will remain lump free, and we can enjoy and love our rattie family for a long time to come.

Our four girls, Ruby, Topaz, Sapphire and Opal being camera shy in the bottom left

Our four girls, Ruby, Topaz, Sapphire and Opal, being camera shy in the bottom left

Opal's operation

Our beautful rat, Opal, showing off her post surgery bald spotPhew, it’s has all been a bit much here with our beautiful Gems. While Topaz is coping very well with her two lumps, which are sadly getting quite large, we also found a lump on our chunky girl, Opal. To be honest I had hoped she would get by without any lumps, but sadly not. We found a lump growing on her hip, and despite her age I wanted to get it removed.

Her operation was this morning and I’m pleased to say she came through the whole process very well. As with her sisters Opal was groggy and unresponsive at the vets, but as soon as I got her home she was wide awake and wanting to be with her sisters. Once in her cage, she had a huge drink and then started eating. So we are quite sure she is going to be fine.

Opal has pain relief for the next few days, just to keep her comfortable. She looks very happy to be home with her family and I’m hopeful she is going to make a speedy recovery.

Goodbye to Sapphire

Oh dear. It is with a very heavy heart I say that our little Sapphire left us yesterday. For a while now her personality has changed slightly. It was nothing you could really put your finger on, she just seemed a little tense at times, getting upset at me doing things in the cage like changing their litter trays or paper bedding. Little things that she normally liked to help me with, seemed to upset her. Once she even nipped me when I put my hand in the igloo with her, she was wide awake and had dived in there ahead of me. Then at cleaning out time she stood on my foot and bit my ankle until I picked her up. They were strange little things, that were so out of character for Sapphire. At first we thought maybe it was stress because of Topaz’s condition. Rats are vey sensitive, and while Topaz is happy and playing, her sisters know she’s not well.

Sadly Sapphire’s condition started to deteriorate, she began to struggle to eat rat food. As soon as we saw she wasn’t eating we fed her some bread and it was obvious something was wrong. Normally when confronted with something yummy all our little rats will grab it and run off, and if you tried to stop them there would be lots of silly squeaking. Not with Sapphire, she was hungry and started eating the bread straight away, but she didn’t take it away, instead just laying in my hands and letting me hold it for her.

Sapphire enjoying some bread

Sapphire enjoying some bread

She was still able to lift herself up and drink from a water bottle, but we decided to get her on baby food to make sure she was getting all the nutrients she needed. Sapphire was very happy to slurp up the yummy warm mixture and for a few days she seemed quite happy. Sadly her strength started to leave her and after one particular feed it was obvious she couldn’t be returned to her sisters. Instead she spent the night tucked up in her little rat carrier, snuggled in lots of soft towels. The next morning I checked on her and she seemed very calm, but I couldn’t get her to eat anything, so we knew it was the right time to say goodbye.

Sweet Topaz has left us

It is with very, very sad hearts we said goodbye to Topaz this morning. Her tumours were starting to interfere with her quality of life and we were seeing a decline in her strength and personality. Right up until this point Topaz has not been letting anything get in her way. She was still the craziest of her sisters, the first to get into trouble and sound the rattie alarm for everyone to join her in her mischief. She had a huge personality and love of life and we are going to miss her terribly.

Our beautiful rat, Topaz enjoying some milkshake

This sad day leaves us with just our sweet Ruby and chunky Opal. We don’t know how being without their two more outgoing sisters will affect them, but we will do everything we can to make this transition as easy as possible on them.

Snuggle time

Lindsay and Ruby

Lindsay and Ruby

Little Opal and Ruby are doing fairly well without their two more outgoing sisters. Having always been quite shy, they are now senior ladies and have the right to be less active.

Sadly both girls have developed new tumours, both in the same place in their abdomens, which is upsetting, but they are doing well. With their age and the fact they’ve both had surgeries, we decided not to put them through more operations. It is a difficult decision as we had to weigh up the risks against simply enjoying our remaining time together.

Without the encouragement of Sapphire and Topaz, Ruby and Opal don’t want to come out and play very often. They do still like a cuddle though and their milkshake treat. Our girls have earned a bit of pampering, so Derek and I will do whatever we can to make them feel safe and enjoy a some out of the cage time with us. We love our beautiful girls so very much and are enjoying spoiling them as much as we can.

Just the two of us

My two old age rats, Opal and Ruby snuggled in their hammock

My two beautiful girls are doing very well with everything they have and are going through. They have both slowed down and don’t spend a lot of time out of their home anymore, not even for a cuddle. Don’t worry, they still get lots of fuss, they just prefer all their attention while in their cage. Sometimes they are not in the easiest to reach positions, but Derek and I always make sure they get as much fuss as they want.

Sadly milkshake sharing is no longer an activity as they don’t want to come out for any and it’s not easy to give to them in their home, but they seem happy that way. We still have plenty of yummy treats they do enjoy along with their fuss so we still interact and spoil them whenever we can.

Opal and Ruby are still in wonderful condition, except where Opal’s fur hasn’t quite grown back fully after her surgery. She’s still beautiful and they have the most gorgeous fur, very soft to the touch. We’ve known a lot of rats with different fur types, and these girl’s is really luxurious. We love our two girls so very much and are making the most of everyday we have them.

Sad little gems

Lindsay passed away suddenly and everyone is heartbroken. Opal and Ruby are very sad and didn’t want to write anything.

Opal & Ruby