If I ever won the lottery, I would give half of my winnings to Bonnie Tyler, because I feel that Total Eclipse of the Heart has given me more joy and fun times than pretty much anything in my life.
I listen to this song five or six times in a row when I’m home alone at night & sometimes I’m like “wow, this is kind of weird, I shouldn’t know any song this intensely, nor should I be having such a good time dancing alone in my room” & then I just turn it up louder. And don’t even get me started on how many times I’ve jammed alone in the car to it.
THANK YOU, BONNIE TYLER. I appreciate all you have done for the world.
I’m so sorry for your loss. :( I have been trying to distract myself by doting on the others, but it seems especially hard without Courage because he was so different than the rest.
I’m also really sorry you had a crappy experience at the vet…I have DEFINITELY been there. I’ve seen probably 10 vets with rats & I got soooooo lucky to find a great one, but I have to say, out of the other nine, the best I could do was “well, they don’t know much about rats, but at least they’re polite & listen to me.” I actually had one guy take $80 worth of x-rays of a rat’s lungs & then go “Man, I wish you had brought along a healthy rat so I could x-ray it & compare them, then I could know if it’s supposed to look like this!” Umm….what?!?! I’ve also had vet techs make really rude comments about wasting money to treat rats, or refusing to touch/handle mine.
The vet I went to to have Courage put to sleep knew nothing about rats, but they don’t actually treat them, they just squeezed me in before they opened when I called them crying the day before saying my vet was booked full. I realize that vets don’t see a lot of rats & that many of them haven’t treated one at all in the 20+ years since they’ve been out of vet school, & that’s completely understandable…but I feel like it’s incredibly unethical to take people’s money & claim you treat them when you clearly don’t care about them & don’t make the slightest effort to do research on them. I hope you’re able to find a decent vet! It can be hard, especially if you’re not in a larger city. I was using a nice friendly vet that didn’t do a ton with exotics, but was willing to listen to my suggestions & do research…they referred me to my current vet one day when I had a really, really sick baby rat that was going to die if it didn’t get specialized treatment. Maybe try calling vets that don’t seem like rude assholes & see if they can refer you to any exotics specialists. The prices are a little higher at mine than they would be at a dog/cat vet, but I don’t mind paying a little more when I know they’re actually doing their best.
Hi! You might want to try changing up the feeding routine. My big group of boys tends to get pretty possessive over food, so what I do with them is feed them in two separate groups—they’re not physically separated from one another, but I put food on one level of the cage & another pile of food on another level of the cage & they split up into two groups to eat. It’s much easier with multi-level cages like mine, but even if you have a smaller cage, you can try that by scattering food throughout the cage.
You might also want to try giving them a little more food at the time (unless they’re overweight), or maybe splitting up the number of times a day you feed them. Like, give them the same amount each day (or just a little more), but instead of 1-2x a day, try 3-4x daily.
I assume they’re eating something like a seed mix or dog food or lab blocks that they are picking up & carrying off to fight with one another over—it might be worth trying to feed them from a bowl (or bowls) & putting something semi-liquid into the bowl with the hard food, like pudding, applesauce, Ensure (only if they’re not overweight!), or baby food. If they’re eating lab blocks or dog food, you can wet the food & then hit it with a hammer before putting it into the liquid to turn it into a sort of mush. That’ll usually force them to share a little better—if you have a super food-obsessed rat, they will sometimes just hoard over the bowl & attack anyone who approaches, but that’s not usually the case, because their instinct is normally to eat as much as they can as quickly as they can, so they just sort of ignore anyone who comes near. If you try that at least for a few days, it might kinda get the idea in their heads that they don’t have to fight over food.
My girls don’t usually fight over food, but they seem to have the idea in their heads that it’s important to stockpile as much as physically possible in every area of the cage. I go through every night & clean it up & take it out—that keeps it from getting wasted, & it also lets them know that there’s no point in hoarding it like that because it’s just going to get taken, lol.
Unfortunately, tumors are just part of owning rats. :( They are MUCH, MUCH more common in unspayed females. There’s not really any way to truly prevent them, but you can greatly reduce the risk by owning males or spaying all your females (which is often more expensive than tumor removal). Reputable breeders that breed for health often have lines that cancer is a lot less prevalent in, so you’d probably have better luck with a well-bred rat than a pet store one, but it’s kind of like respiratory infections—no matter how good of care you take of the rat, there’s still a good chance they’re going to end up sick with something at some point in their lives.
They’re viewed as disposable animals & the vast majority of them, at least in the United States, are bred for snake food, so there’s no need for them to live more than 5-6 months at the very most (& that’s only if they are gonna be sold as jumbo-sized food). Most rats either come from rat mills that supply to pet stores or are backyard breeders that are just breeding for pretty colors & health is unfortunately just not a huge concern…the average person considering owning rats is not interested in keeping an agouti or a black hooded, no matter how healthy they might be, if there’s a black masked rex or a Siamese dumbo at the pet store next door, so a lot of it is a demand issue where way too high of a value is placed on flashier colors…not to mention the average rat owner wouldn’t consider going to the vet to spend $75+ on an animal that cost $5, so there’s not really a need (in most people’s eyes) to even breed for a healthier animal. It’s really, really easy to forget when you’re on Tumblr looking at spoiled rats in Critter Nations with hammocks & toys & hideaways that the vast majority of rats are kept in dirty ten gallon tanks, often by themselves, on cedar bedding & rarely taken out to play. We are by FAR the minority. :-/I don’t mean to make it sound like all rats are going to come down with cancer or respiratory issues, because that’s not true. My vet visits are obviously going to be a lot more numerous than the average owner simply because I have so many. Buuuuut with that being said, there’s a REALLY, REALLY good chance that a rat is going to be sick enough to visit the vet at least once during its life. Alan’s a year & a half old & he’s never been to the vet; Vera’s over two & she’s never had any health problems. But Darcy went to the vet four or five times during his barely two year life just for respiratory issues. Pax just had his third surgery at the ripe old age of 2.5 (one for glaucoma, two for abscesses; altogether, he’s probably cost me around $550 in vet bills). None of those problems (or lack thereof in Alan & Vera’s case) were at all related to my care, it’s probably just a combination of dumb luck & some rats being “better stock”. I’ve had waaaaay more euthanasias from respiratory issues or death from old age than I have had problems with tumors, but then again, I’ve mostly only ever had males. I’ve heard estimates that mammary tumors end up occurring in something like 70% of unspayed females over the age of 1.5.
Hi! There are two reasons—1.) Mice are able to fit through much, much smaller bar spacing than rats, so there are very few wire cages that are safe & escape-proof for them. I’ve had adult females get through ½”x1/4” square mesh, which is pretty darn tiny. 2.) They tend to be MUCH healthier, respiratory-wise, than rats, so the ammonia buildup doesn’t affect them as much (I think the fact they don’t drink as much, even taking their smaller size into account, also means they don’t pee quite as much, so there’s less ammonia to begin with).With rats, the escaping isn’t an issue, since even a 4 week old rat can’t fit through ½” spacing. They have pretty sensitive respiratory systems, which means the urine smell can do bad damage to their lungs. Also, tanks are incredibly boring. There’s not a lot of vertical space & rats loooove to climb. Mice are so small that you can put things in for them to climb up—my mice have a hanging sports bra, a space pod, a plastic bin suction cupped to the side, etc., so they go all over the place, but even a medium-sized female rat standing on her back legs could just about touch the top of a 10 gallon tank. Two large adult males can barely move in a 10 gallon. Even a larger, taller tank doesn’t have the ability to easily hang things to decorate it with like a wire cage would, & rats love scaling the sides of a wire cage. Definitely not a good environment for rats that are any older than the nursing age.
Mrs. Kitsey says hi PLEASE PUT ME DOWN I AM TRYING TO WATCH THIS SQUIRREL OUTSIDE CAN’T YOU TELL I’M BUSY
(also this will be the last selfie of me with blue hair for a while, I’m going pink again this weekend YAY)
please welcome Choco&Latte.. now available in my shop :)
Look at these adorable kitties!!!
I don’t really feel like updating a queue for tomorrow, I’m feeling a little stressed about stuff at work & sad about Courage. I’ll try to answer messages tomorrow or Friday, sorry!
I just wanted to make a post & say I really appreciate the nice messages people have been sending. I got a lot of notes from people saying that they got a hairless rat because of him; I wasn’t expecting that at all & I found it really touching. I like thinking about all the rats with good homes because of him.
July 2012 - August 20, 2014
Rest in peace.
If you have enough rats, you’re going to see similarities in some of them—Fell likes to pancake like Ears did, Baldor bounces around like Ivan, Vincent walks just like Howard. That’s one of the main things I love about rats: they’re individuals, but at the same time, when you lose one, it often feels like they never truly left you, because one day, you’re going to get another that reminds you so much of them in some small way, and you have these bittersweet moments where tears come to your eyes, even as you’re laughing.
That’s true of most rats—the vast majority of the ones I’ve had shared traits with at least one other that I owned at some point. But not all. I’m never going to have another Wyatt (this is a good thing. my fingers thank me daily for their lack of flesh wounds). I’m never going to have another Darcy (I love you, my dear sweet Bug). And I’m never going to have another Courage.
Courage was very small, but he packed a lot of spirit and personality into his tiny little frame. He managed to be full of life even though he was, like many males, somewhat lazy—it was a strange combination, you had to meet him to know him. He was very intelligent, but picky about things to the point that it was idiotic. It was Courage’s way or the highway, or, to put it less metaphorically, it was Courage’s way or loud, shrill shrieks coming out of Courage’s mouth continuously until whatever was stressing him stopped doing so. He liked some rats and (inexplicably) he didn’t like others. He was quick to let you know if a rat he didn’t like approached him. “EEK! EEK!” squeaks Courage;” “Courage is an angry rat,” “See Courage scream”…his whole life reads like a children’s storybook.
The main downside to having so many rats is that sometimes I forget small details, memories might be triggered a year or two after the rat’s death, and they’re always accompanied by a pang in my heart, sadness that I had forgotten something that seemed so integral to the rat’s personality when he was alive. It is one of the main reasons I blog about them, because on the internet, nothing ever goes away, and I could always go back and read entries about Jagger or Wesley or Finch, they’re there forever, even if they’re gone in physicality.
When Courage was happy, he was very happy—he had a very expressive face; the sight of him sitting atop a mountain of food could have been in the dictionary as the definition of joy. He hoarded food obsessively; every time I dumped a lot of food into the bowl, he’d spend all of his time running and grabbing as much as he could to make a little pile for himself. All the while, his cagemates would be gobbling down every piece they could reach, and when they inevitably finished, they’d run over to Courage’s stash and start scooping it up with eager paws and teeth. He’d scream and scream, standing over the food like a dragon hoarding gold—I have had a lot of rats, and never one that used his mouth as emotively as Courage did, he’d bare his teeth and hiss at anyone who tried to take his food. He hated Howard, I don’t know why, as Howard was a very mellow rat who didn’t cause any problems, but every time Howard came near him, Courage would scream. Howard seemed to take great joy in this and would frequently approach Courage, not at all in a malicious manner, but he was always greeted with a scream that sounded like an elderly woman surprised by a visitor when she was in the shower…I don’t think any rat I’ve ever had has made me laugh nearly as much as Courage did.
He was kind, though. He loved snuggling under shirts, he loved licking hands, he loved tortilla chips, he loved Alan, he loved his hanging basket. He had a strange fascination with young rats, he would immediately befriend any baby rat he came near. A friend came over one day and he spent quite some time hiding under her long hair as she fed him Sour Patch Kids candy. We couldn’t figure out how he was eating them so quickly—just a few seconds after handing them to him, he’d come back empty-handed and empty-mouthed, begging for another. We then realized he was licking the sour crystals off and placing the gummy sticky candy into her hair.
He suffered from severe eye problems the last half of his life—they’re not at all uncommon with hairless rats, and I doubt I’ll ever own another or recommend them to people after I saw how much trouble he went through. He looked awful for the last year. I rarely posted photos of him because I didn’t want people to see him like that and I didn’t want people to feel he was suffering, because he only seemed uncomfortable a few times. Over the last couple of weeks, he had lost a tremendous amount of weight, and over the last few days, his eyes looked worse than they ever had. He was still fighting, but he was in pain, and I didn’t want him to suffer any more.
I left work to have him euthanized today, and the only thing that kept me from bawling my eyes out when I had to come sit back down at my desk and get back to typing and filing and answering the phone was the image of Howard the angel rat running up to Courage in rat heaven and the look of shock and disgust that would come up on Courage’s face. I don’t claim to know where souls go, and I’m not religious, but I don’t think I would be able to deal with animal deaths at all if I didn’t think they went somewhere nice. I hope that Courage is with Ollie now, he always loved Ollie, and I hope he has a hanging basket. I do hope Howard is giving him some peace, but knowing Howard, he might be making up for lost time. I hope there is a big bag of tortilla chips and a force field to keep all the other rats away from his stash. I hope for a lot of things, but mostly, I will just miss him, screams and all.
Rest in peace, buddy. You were special. You brought a lot of people a lot of happiness and a lot of laughs, and you were just a tiny little rat. Thank you.
I have been crying off and on all day and these made me smile while I was flipping through looking for a good shot to use. I will make an exception to my one photo obituary rule; after all, he was an exceptional rat.