Toffee, Pickle & Tomato

April 2008 - September 2008

Toffee, Pickle & Tomato

Two rescue rats have joined our family

Toffee, Pickle & Tomato

Toffee, Pickle & Tomato

Our little rattie, Toffee, was horribly lonely after loosing his brother Caramel and recent friend Minty, so when we found out our local RSPCA had two older boys looking for a home we decided to go and meet them.

Fatty and Skinny, as they were originally called, were adorable, friendly guys and it was love at first sight. They were obviously mild mannered, a perfect match for Toffee, and they even looked like him! There was no going back once we’d met the guys, so we came home with two new additions to our family. Well, it was actually three, check out Petal’s page to read her story.

Because Toffee has been very lonely and unhappy on his own, to the point where his health was suffering, we decided not to keep the new rats in quarantine and introduced them to Toffee straight away. While this is not something we would normally recommend, we had been very concerned about Toffee. He had stopped washing himself and wasn’t interested in much, other than sleeping and eating, so we felt it was worth the risk of introducing everyone.

Once we had managed to wake Toffee up, we put him together with Pickle and Tomato. At first he was just grumpy at having his sleep interrupted, but once he realised he had two new brothers he got a little over enthusiastic. Poor Pickle and Tomato wanted a few minutes to get their bearings, but Toffee just wanted to groom them. Tomato is extremely overweight and he wasn’t able to escape Toffee’s attentions, so within minutes of being introduced Tomato was being thoroughly groomed by Toffee. It wasn’t too much longer before Toffee got his hands on Pickle too.

Pickle & Toffee

Pickle & Toffee

Within the first minutes of introduction it was clear we were going to have no problems with the three boys living together, and within an hour they were all cuddled up fast asleep.

Pickle & Tomato

Pickle & Tomato

The three boys get on so well together, and look just like each other, you would never guess they weren’t brothers, though they all have very different personalities. Toffee is our original cuddly boy, is still our number one and his welfare and happiness takes priority over everything, not that we have anything to worry about as he obviously loves his two new brothers to bits. Something’s never change and Toffee still loves his treats, but now he is no longer on his own we are not spoiling him as much. He is also enjoying having two energetic brothers who have really changed Toffee for the better. We have seen a real improvement in the amount of time Toffee likes to spend out of his home, and we have even caught him running around and playing with his brothers.

Pickle is the smallest, in weight, of the three boys and he is full of bounce. Pickle loves nothing more than bouncing around on the floor and being ‘chucked’ around. This involves picking him up, when he runs to us, and pretending we are going to throw him, but really we just pop him on the floor as far away from us as we can reach and then watch him bounce until he comes back and then we do it all over again.

Last, but not least, is our chubby guy Tomato, while he loves to play and bounce like his brother, Pickle, because of his size he gets tired very easily and when he’s tired he turns into a big old cuddly boy. When he has run out of energy he likes to be held and fussed, while Toffee and Pickle burn up their energy. Not that we mind, Tomato is easiest to handle when he is pooped and happy to sit still.

As mentioned before Tomato is extremely overweight, which is something we will have to work very hard on. Luckily Tomato is very friendly and inquisitive, so we are hoping that lots of handling and exercise will help shed some of his excess ounces!

Our chubby rat, Tomato, is on a diet

Our rat, Tomato is a big old boy. If the truth be known he is horrendously overweight. When out and about he tends to just drag himself along rather than walk. I’m not saying he’s lazy, he loves to come out and play and he even tries to bounce even though he finds it pretty tiring. Even so, he is a big guy and it takes a lot of effort for him to move. It is quite sad to see, as he is lovely and he obviously wants to join in with his brothers.

Worryingly his initial excitement at joining our family has dwindled and we are starting to have problems with him not moving much at play time. He has the added problem that because of his size and lack of muscle he can’t climb about in the cage, which is a huge part of a rats daily exercise. I have also noticed his brother Pickle, who isn’t overweight, doesn’t seem to have much muscle bulk, making me think they didn’t have much opportunity to climb and play.

Cubby Tomato

Cubby Tomato

In an attempt to cut down on the amount Tomato eats, and stop him eating just his favorite foods we thought we’d try some rat nuggets, to stop Tomato just eating his favourite foods. Unfortunately we opened the bag to find is was infested with moths! I don’t know what had happened there, it was the same brand as we feed our rabbits and we’ve never had a problem before. Needless to say it has put us off a bit and we’ve kept him on Reggie Rat – which we know and trust.

Even though getting Tomato to lose weight and stay active is proving a challenge we are not going to give up on him.

Health problems for Tomato

Our sweet chubby rat, TomatoWorryingly Tomato has started showing signs of weakness in his back legs. Some days he doesn’t even try to use them, when he comes out to play he will pull himself along with his front legs. We’ve decided not to take him to the vet, we know he is over weight, and probably quite old. As horrible as it may sound if there was anything the vet could do it would probably be very expensive and stressful for Tomato. So, we have decided to keep an eye on him for now. We are making sure he’s getting plenty of water and still eating.

Fingers crossed he’ll be ok, but I know we have to be realistic.

We love our Tomato.

Toffee & Tomato have passed away

Sadly our family took a terrible blow within the space of two days we lost both Toffee and Tomato.

Tomato & Toffee

Tomato & Toffee

Our big guy Tomato had been suffering from weakness in his back legs for a couple of days, but we had been keeping a close eye on him making sure he got plenty to eat and drink and were happy he wasn’t in any discomfort. We were concerned his condition may have been linked to his weight problem because he was very large. We didn’t know his age, but judging by Pickle they weren’t young guys, so we felt it was best to take care of his immediate needs rather than try any medical treatment.

Our baby, Toffee, has always been a very sensitive rat and has suffered from respiratory problems in the past. These were usually stress related, often linked to his brothers health, and they always seemed to clear up when whatever was upsetting him had passed. A few days after Tomato began to show signs of being unwell Toffee began having problems with his breathing, though this time was different and his condition seemed to deteriorate very quickly.

Taking little rats to the vet who are not feeling very well, particularly when it involves their breathing, is very difficult as they can get terribly stressed, even so, we had planned to take Toffee to the vet first thing on Monday. Unfortunately Toffee took a sudden turn for the worse on Sunday and passed away peacefully while we were with him.

While this was going on with Toffee, Tomato’s condition had also deteriorated and he lost all strength and did not even appear to be aware of his surroundings. We were left with no choice but to take him to the vet to be put to sleep so the day after losing our beautiful Toffee, we were also forced to say goodbye to Tomato.

Cuddling my boys in happier times

Cuddling my boys in happier times

This has left Pickle on his own, but he is such a sweet and loving little guy it is not difficult for us to give him lots of extra attention, and yummy treats. If some suitable guys become available at our local RSPCA we will consider getting him some new friends, but until then we are going to give him all the love and cuddles he can put up with.

In a pickle over Pickle

Black hooded rat, Pickle sitting in my handOur Pickle is obviously an old chap. Well, I’m assuming he is because although we don’t know his age he certainly looks like a big old fellow.

Anyway he has never been very good at climbing. As I mentioned before I don’t think Pickle or his brother Tomato could’ve had much of an opportunity to climb before they joined our family, because Pickle has always managed to climb up the bars ok, its just getting back down or into a hammock that causes him problems.

In fact just after we lost his brothers, Toffee and Tomato, Pickle had a bad fall and hurt one of his front legs really badly. It swelled up and he was unable to put weight on it. While this stopped him being able to climb, it didn’t stop him doing a three legged hobble while out and about.

It has, however, left us with a dilemma about what to do for him. I’ve lowered all his high up beds in his cage and taken away things he no longer uses, so that if he does fall its not going to be so far. Unfortunately the problem with this is it has created new ways for Pickle to get in a pickle!

One of Pickle’s favourite beds is a plastic storage box. It is open at the front so you can stack them. I tied one of these up at the top of the cage and the boys used it as a bed. To make things safer and so he doesn’t have to climb as high, I lowered the bed, but now Pickle can get over the top of it and he did and he fell!

Our current rat cage

We’ve been looking at getting a lower cage for him. Savic do some bunny cages called Nero that come in various sizes. We have a couple for our rabbits, so we know they are nice cages. The bars are widely spaced, but that’s not a problem as Pickle is a big boy. And it will only be used for older wobbly rats, so it should never be a problem. And it has the same floor space as his current home, its just the height that is reduced.

The cage isn’t horrendously expensive either, so I think that’s what we’re going to do. It also has the added bonus of leaving us with a spare rat cage incase we come accross any more rats needing a home. Which may happen sooner than we planned if Daisy’s sons are still at the RSPCA.

Pickle gets a retirement home

We decided to get the bunny cage for Pickle. His welfare is more important to us than anything and I’d be heart broken if he had another fall and really hurt himself. The last fall I was so scared he’d broken his leg, it was such a relief when he started using it again. Hopefully now he’ll be safe now.

Pickle's new lower rat cage

He doesn’t seem particularly fussed about the change. He checked all his beds were there, that his food and water were in the right place, rearranged his bedding a bit before going to bed for the afternoon. And he must have slept well because we had to wake him up at teatime for his bit of bread.

Pickle and the boys

Our boy rats seem to have taken over our dinning room! We now have two rat homes in the dinning room and our crazy gerbil, Berry, is in there too. Its not a huge room, but somehow we’ve fitted them in amongst the furniture.

The rat cages in our dinning room

Our black hooded rat, PickleSome really good news is that Pickle is happy to run around on the floor while Apple, Bramble and Lime are out. The young ones do tend to climb over Pickle as though he’s a giant toy, sometimes peeing on him in the process, but he doesn’t seem to care. If anything Pickle seems much more content when he gets put away. And last night he climbed up on Derek to be put away, and then curled up in bed quite happily. Sometimes he can get a bit agitated when its time to go in. Not because he wants to stay out, but I think he’s lonely. So maybe having a bit of social contact with other rats did him some good.

It is a shame he can’t live with the new arrivals, but they are far too energetic for him. If he managed to fall in that cage on his own, who knows what would happen with those three guys pinging around! The brothers are full of trouble at the moment. It doesn’t take much to get them tussling with each other and they clamber around the bars, of their cage, like their monkeys.

We’ll keep an eye out for any older guys looking for a home, but until then hopefully seeing the young ones at playtime will keep Pickle happy.

Pickle has died

He started to slow down a few days ago, we couldn’t even tempt him with baby food, which he had enjoyed the night before and was always one of his favorite treats. Gradually his condition declined until he died peacefully. He was very peaceful and even though we are going to miss him so much, it is good to know he didn’t suffer.

"What have you got for me?"

"What have you got for me?"

Our Pickle was a very bouncy guy despite his age. He loved nothing more than coming out of an evening and bouncing round our home. He was a very happy rat who loved life and we couldn’t help but smile whenever he was out.

My three cuddly boys

My three cuddly boys