Farewell My Lovely Rats

noses

It’s been a few months since my last two lovely boys passed away. It was November 26th and Dublin was getting very feeble and off his food. Jinx took a bad turn during the night, and we were very upset to find him barely moving in the morning of the 27th, so I had to make the harsh decision to put them both to sleep. I knew that Dublin would only decline very fast without his brother so I thought it was kinder to let them both go together. It was not just the end of days for these two wonderful little guys, but the end of an era, I had decided not to bring any more rats into our lives for the time being, as it is not so practical having to house them in the garden shed (a consequence of my partners allergies), not to mention the heating bill. So I will make this my last post, a farewell to my sweet pixies Dublin and Jinx, and a tribute to all our rats gone by. To the Rainbow Bridge my little ones xxxxxxxxxxxx

Irresistibly Cute Dublin's 1st Day Home

Irresistibly Cute Dublin's 1st Day Home

I is a Mouse, honest

I is a Mouse, honest

Baby Dublin Fluffyness

Baby Dublin Fluffiness

Wassat?

Wassat?

Peek-a-Boo!

Peek-a-Boo!

I Gots it

I Gots it

Old Boy Dublin

Old Boy Dublin

Dublin in his Prime, a Handsome Ratty

Dublin in his Prime, a Handsome Ratty

Baby Jinx's 2nd Day Home

Baby Jinx's 2nd Day Home

Pixie Rat!

Pixie Rat!

Hi!

Hi!

Cute Jinxy

Cute Jinxy

How Whiskery Am I??

How Whiskery Am I?

Jinx on the Sink

Jinx on the Sink

Cuddling Rocky

Cuddling Rocky

Old Boy Jinx

Old Boy Jinx

Adorable Jinx

Adorable Jinx

The Big Boys

The Big Boys

Snuggly Shy-Shy

Snugly Shy-Shy

A Rat Party!

A Rat Party!

Sniff Sniff

Sniff Sniff

Today My Lovely Rats Say Bye-Bye

The Rat Galleon

Due to the increasing podginess of my rats, especially Rocky who at times resembles a big dollop of ice cream, I’ve cut down on their “naughty” treats (like yoggies and cheese), and came up with the idea of making them an assault course/climbing frame/pirate ship thingy. Lack of space in the shed means that they don’t have as much opportunity to climb as they used to, therefore I made the climbing structure fairly tall (with levels, so they don’t fall to far). It was a simple construction made of bits of wood I had lying around, old bamboo sticks, heavy duty string I had in, old plant pots, cardboard tubing and the only part I actually bought was the ladder. The total cost was about £3.50! So here it is: THE RAT GALLEON!

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The Rat Galleon

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Pip exploring the Rat Galleon

Today my lovely rats have been mostly eating fresh spinach

Ratty Xmas!

For Christmas I decided that just because my four boys were rats, it didn’t mean they should be left out of the Christmas celebrations. So I filled a fabric advent calender (one of those with the little pockets) with food treats. They soon came scampering up to the top of their cage to collect a treat from mum every day!

They also received a wopping big Christmas stocking from ‘mother’ Christmas! They got lots of treats and a few new hammocks and nests from my two favourite Internet rat shops: Acrorats and Fuzzbutt Cage Comforts. Acrorats make the most sturdy rat bunk beds which have lasted longer than any other products I’ve tried. They also sell great rat treats, cereal mixes and medicines. Fuzzbutt make wonderfully original rat furniture which has been well designed and is tested by…..rats of course!

Here are some examples of the rats’ fave beds:

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Pip sniffing out new Acrorats Bucket

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Acrorats Bunk Bed in April 2007 /Same Bunk Bed in October 07

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Fuzzbutt’s Snooze Cube (still going strong,
with extra bolt hole made by the rats!

Today my rats have been mostly eating rodent ‘pizza’ and rodent chocolate drops.

Toys and Games for Rats

There are plenty of hammocks, tubes and ladders on the market, but very few products that are aimed as actual toys for rats. You can get plastic or wire balls which you can fill with your pet’s favourite treats, which they have to roll about in order to get the food. A cheaper alternative to this is to fill a cardboard tube (like a toilet roll) with treats and fold up the ends. Your ratties will enjoy nibbling to get to the food, if it smells enticing enough!

I’ve mentioned “pea-fishing” before, when you fill a paint tray or similar container with water and some peas, or sweetcorn and watch your rats fish with their paws and duck their heads under the water to find the peas.

Young rats love to climb and scout out their territory from high vantage points. A lot of rat owners use old wine racks, or branches from apple or cherry trees, for them to climb on. You can just use your imagination here – my rats like to scramble up my arms from the floor to the table and back again!

Another activity which rats are fond of is digging. Wild rats dig elaborate burrows with nesting chambers, bolt holes and larders. Obviously, it’s not advisable to let your pet ratties dig holes in your garden, but it’s amazing how much fun can be for a rat in big box filled with sterilised potting soil and some culinary incentives like sunflowers seeds or monkey nuts!

A recent game I found my lovely rats love to play is “chase the wild-rag”. All you need for this fascinating and hilarious sport is a long piece of string and some old clothes cut up into strips:

1 Tie a loop at one end of the string.

2 Gather the strips of cloth in a bunch and tie together at the other end of the string.

3 Clasp the loop end in your hand, and drag the “wild-rag” cloth strips in front of your rat.

4 Yank the rag away from your rat in a swift movement, and watch him try and pounce on it!

I’m sure there are lots of themes you could use for this game, like cat-on-a-string (using small cat soft toy), or spider-hider (using black cloth and hide-and-seek technique).

Today my rats have been mostly eating dog biscuits and rice.

Rat Art

The ratties seem to have recovered from their Myco infection at last. They have become a lot tamer after feeding them by hand every day. Another thing I have tried is to create a space for them to play on a table top. It is too high for them to to attempt to jump down – they haven’t dared but instead try to use me as a ladder from the table to the floor! I put them on the table first, so I can handle them, and when they start to get restless I let them down on the floor where there’s more space to investigate. They are much happier to be picked up now and often climb onto me and crawl up to my shoulder. Stripe often gives me a ratty kiss too! Even Pip seems a little less nervous of my hands.

It will be my long-suffering boyfriend’s birthday soon (suffering because of his allergy to the rats). So I thought it would be fun to see if the rats could make him paw print pictures:) It all went great, except that Rocky ended up with purple stains on his tail, which could have been difficult to explain!

Rat Print Painting

Ingredients:-

1 Non-toxic poster paints in various colours

2 Plastic washing up bowl with a little water in the bottom (to wash feet)

3 Plastic tray

4 Towel

5 Folded card (one for each rat)

6 Newspaper

7 Rats

Method:-

Place newspaper on the floor or table where the picture is going to be made, and put a folded card in the middle. Put a little paint on the tray (you don’t need much) and let your ratty walk on it, you might have to “help” him a little. Then place your rat on top of the card and let him walk about on it. Give his little feet a quick wash in the bowl of water. It’s best if your rat has been introduced to water before, otherwise he’ll have a bit of a shock :0 Use the towel to dry him off.

Pip's paw painting

Our rats have had a go at pea-fishing and don’t mind getting their feet wet. Stripe seems to be totally at ease in water. We discovered that an old painting tray is good for this, as it has a shallow end and a deep end. Put peas or sweetcorn in the bottom, just add rats and see what they do!

Today my rats have been mostly eating monkey nuts and strawberries.

Cages

Shy-Shy seems to be clear of his myco infection at last. The boys have grown a lot over the last few weeks and are looking more like feisty teenagers than fluffy babies. Their fur is more coarse and shiny (females have softer, sleeker fur than males and tend to be smaller).

Ten week old scary beasts!

I cleaned the rats’ cage out today while they slept in their carrier tank. They will be too big for it soon. When they finally got back in their home, they explored it with great gusto and excitement! I always make slight variations in the cage layout, because fancy rats are clever and seem to love to explore new things. I always put some nice tasty treats in there too to give them something inviting to do – eating (a rat’s favourite pastime!)

Ferplast Furet Extra Large cage. Roomy!

There are plenty of cages on the market for rats, and alot of breeders use large aviary-type cages. You definitely need a good-sized cage for rats, because they are very active and need plenty of stimulus (ie hammocks, tubes, ropes, ladders etc). I have a Ferplast Furet Extra Large ferret cage – it’s huge and has ample space for four male rats. You need to be careful of bar-spacing though when you are considering buying a ferret cage. Usually the spacing is far too wide (about 2.5cm) for baby rats or small adult female rats. However, for larger females or grown male rats they are wonderfully spacious. The Ferplast Furet E L has a much narrower bar-spacing – about 1.7cm which was perfectly fine for my male rats from 6 weeks old. It is so large I had to fill it with 3 corner shelves, a large ‘acroplatform’ from ‘Acrorats’ (a superb on-line shop selling made-to-measure sturdy hammocks, platforms etc.), hammocks and tubes etc. The rats love it! There are two large doors, so it’s easy enough to clean (especially if you’ve got orangutan long arms like me!). The only trouble I’ve had with the cage was that when the rats were more timid, it was difficult to get them out of it! If I got baby rats again (a distinct possibility!) I would get a smaller ‘nursery’ cage to start with (with bar spacing 1.5cm or less).

Today my rats have been mostly eating broccoli and porridge oats.