Wednesday, 29 December 2010

New Family Members

For Christmas this year, the Curate's sister and her husband bought me something very different. They arrived on Christmas Eve with a small pet carrier containing two baby rats! I had wondered why the Curate had bought 'me' a new cage for Lulu (our existing rat) as a Christmas present...

We put them into the new cage and after a minor tussle getting the distinctly nervous Lulu to leave her current cage, they were all safely gathered in the incredibly tall, toy-filled palace which they now call home. Dusty the tiniest rat is only 6 weeks old and had to be removed from her Mum swiftly after the mother ate some of her siblings and had a go at her. Cilla is quite a bit bigger at 7 weeks old and twice Dusty's size, she had a far more capable mother.

Lulu has taken to parenting quite well, although there is a small amount of squeaking from the cage when the children get too much for her, and nearly a week  in they both still try to suckle occasionally which Lulu understandably takes offence to!

Each time we have welcomed newbies we are reminded of our previous rat friends who have now gone to their eternal rest, and thank God for their company on this earth. I will share them with you now:
  • Ratfink - This was our first rat. We (and sadly the pet shop) thought she was a boy right until one Saturday morning when she gave birth to 12 little pink sausages! The babies were gorgeous but were returned to the pet shop when they were weaned except one who was the Curate's favourite.
  • Cinnamon - Ratfink's daughter was handled by us from weeks old and was always our tamest rat to handle and play with. She had a very beautiful face and was very 'un-rat like'. Both she and her mother eventually died from mammary lumps.
  • Sydney - He was our first male. A dumbo, with the most ginormous ears! He was big and chunky and introduced us to the differences between males and females - the main ones being wee and smell!
  • Benny - Was named after Benny the digger from Bob the Builder by our then 2 year old. He was a rescue from Pets at Home and sadly had been mishandled and was a little tetchy.
  • Molly and Lulu - Were also Pets at Home rescues both very skittish and when Molly died Lulu became very bitey. :-(
  • Cilla and Dusty - Our newest additions and cagemates/children for Lulu. So far, so good! 

Rats are lovely pets. They are clean, intelligent, awake during most of the day, and easy to handle. In order to get them easy to handle a person needs to be gentle and encourage them to trust. As Lulu had been so bitey I had lost my nerve handling her and things had got worse but the babies are teaching Lulu to trust me and so far she has been out of her cage and licked food from my hand! Progress.

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