Tula & Tilly

March 2010 - February 2012

Tilly & Tula

Tilly & Tula

Two new little rats



I admit we weren’t planning any new additions to our family, if anything we were thinking of taking a break from keeping rats. We have adopted a lot of rats over the past 12 months, many of them old or with health problems, and devoted a lot of time and energy caring for them. With so many of them passing away, we have been feeling a bit heart broken and exhausted. It seemed like taking a break and recharging was the best thing to do. But when I saw a gorgeous little black hooded rat bouncing around her tank yesterday – while on a quick trip to the pet store to pick up supplies – I could not resist.

As we weren’t heading straight home after the pet shop, we weren’t able to take any little rats home with us. That gave us time to think and talk about getting some new additions – or rather for me to talk Derek into it. Not that he needed much persuading, but it is always best to be sure. So once we were sure it was what we wanted we headed back to the pet store to find out who would be joining our family.



There were four girls in the tank, one black hooded, one beige/light ginger hooded and two beige berkshire (all one colour with a white tummy) rats. The two berkshire rats reminded us too much of our little girls Peach and Apricot, who recently passed away, so we decided to choose the two cute hooded girls.

As they were so small and wriggly the shop assistant was having trouble catching the girls and rather than see them get to stressed, Derek reached in and caught Tula. He tucked her inside his jacket while he got hold of Tilly, only to get peed on! Not that Derek minded, Tula is a timid little thing, we can’t blame her for being scared and we had just woken them up.

The girls have only been with us a short time and already we can see that Tilly is going to be a handful. She was extremely quick to start exploring her nice big cage, and even came to see us when we were watching. If we reach into the cage she wants to sniff us and doesn’t seem to mind if we hold her. Tula is a little bit more timid and is happy to hide in her igloo, but we have plenty of time to get to know our new girls. We are just very happy to have two healthy little additions to the family.

A new home and room mate

Lily & Tula

Tilly & Tula

Tula and Tilly are settling in well. They are as happy, adventurous and boisterous as you would expect two little rats to be, which is why we decided to give them a new home.

The girls were living in a Savic Freddy cage, which is great for young rats as it has quite small bar spacing. It is, however, quite a dull cage, as it has very dark coloured bars and with only one door, which gives poor access. I have a lovely airy Ferplast Furet Plus, that is slightly bigger, has fantastic access and lovely green bars. There is only one snag, the cage is already occupied.

Smudge is the remaining rat of a group of five female rats I adopted from the RSPCA, she is quite old and hermity, choosing to spend her time in her igloo. It seemed mean to move Smudge out of her home – even if she doesn’t use it – so, I decided to move Tula and Tilly in with Smudge.

Things have gone really well, Smudge has put the girls in their place a few times, but I think the girls are enjoying their new big cage so much they don’t really care. I think having Smudge around has helped Tula and Tilly gain confidence outside of the cage as well. While the girls were very bave and playful inside their home, they weren’t always that sure about coming out to play on the floor. So, when Smudge does leave the cage – she’s a bit old and doesn’t appreciate a lot of excercise – she helps encourage Tula and Tilly to leave. That’s one great thing about rats, they can’t sit by and watch another rat have all the fun and cuddles.

We’ve caught the three girls curled up together a few times in the week they have been together, which is lovely to see. Most of the time though Smudge hangs around in her igloo, while Tula and Tilly get to play and explore in the rest of the cage. I think the move has been a big sucess for everyone.

Goodbye to our precious little rat, Tula



I’m very sad to say that our sweet little girl, Tula has passed away.

A couple of weeks ago she started having breathing problems. We got her straight onto a course of Baytril and lots of baby food, but it didn’t seem to help. Then to make matters worse we found a lump under her throat and it was a frighteningly fast growing one. In the space of two weeks the lump quadrupled in size. There was no way we could have the lump removed because of Tula’s breathing difficulties. Our vet was also suspicious when he first examined Tula that her problems weren’t caused by respiratory infection, and the rapid growth of her lump, even though it itself was not the cause, may well have been a symptom of more serious internal growths. Either way we had to acknowledge that there was nothing we could do to help our little girl.

Tula’s breathing was becoming very laboured, and she was obviously being worn down by her condition. So, Derek and I made the very painful decision to have her put to sleep. Tula was so very young, and we really weren’t ready to say goodbye to our sweet little girl. We can only know that she is at peace now and take extra special care of Tilly and hope to lessen her loss.

Tula & Tily

Tula & Tilly

Update on Tilly



I’m very pleased to say Tilly is coping very well on her own. It was a difficult time for all of us first losing Smudge to old age and then Tula being so poorly, though I think out of everything Tilly found Tula’s illness the hardest to cope with. Tula was so very poorly that she didn’t respond to Tilly, it was very difficult for us to see her being ignored by her sister, and we understood how poorly Tula was, but for sweet little Tilly who adored her sister it must have been terrible.

Tilly got quite down while Tula was sick, we tried to be there for her, but we were trying to care for Tula, and Tilly would go off and hide when we tried to play with her. She didn’t respond to treats either and the whole situation was quite difficult.

After Tula died, I’m pleased to say Tilly’s mood improved and she turned to us for comfort. We were able to give her treats and really started to spoil her, giving her a bit of every meal we had. Tilly had developed a bit of a respiratory infection, but she was happy and enjoying all the extra attention.

Just over a month after Tula died, we found a lump under Tilly’s armpit. It was scary, especially after what had happened to Tula. Because of all the stress Tilly had been under and her respiratory infection we decided not to have her lump removed. We couldn’t bare to lose her and putting her through the stress of an anaesthetic, and surgery just seemed cruel.

So, we left it, then just over a month after finding the first lump we found a second. This one was lower down her body and on the opposite side. Derek and I are both upset, although I’m pleased to say Tilly is oblivious, happily being pandered to by us and enjoying all the naughty treats we give her.

I don’t know what the future will hold for Tilly, but we won’t have her operated on. The first lump is getting to big too be removed now – the bigger the lump the bigger the operation and wound – and we don’t know if anymore lumps are going to appear.

We made the decision to enjoy our time with Tilly and continue to spoil her as long as we all have together. Tilly is a wonderful and brave little rat, and we feel so blessed to have her in our lives. I’m pretty sure she knows how much we love her, and despite everything that she has been through she is a wonderful and happy little rat who enjoys sharing our dinners!

Sweet dreams Tilly

Our sweet old age rat, Tilly, enjoying a cuddleI’m very sad to say our beautiful little rat, Tilly, has passed away. Her two tumours were very slow growing, and we have had a wonderful 10 months caring for our precious little girl. Sadly though we noticed that Tilly was starting to struggle, her energy levels were dropping and we were concerned that her lumps were starting to affect her mobility. So, we made the difficult decision to have her put to sleep.

It was a terrible decision for us to make, but ultimately our priority is Tilly’s quality of life and we had to do what was best for her. Derek and I love our little girl so much, and she was so brave and at peace as we took her to the vet to say goodbye, we are able to take some comfort that she slipped away peacefully.

We will always remember our precious little girls together, getting into mischief and stealing treats.

Our beautiful rats, Tula & Tilly, out and about

My beautiful girls