Quorra RIP

At the start of this week we had to make the decision to say goodbye to Quorra. She’d been slowing down over the last few months — losing weight and starting to look like an old rat — but when she went off her food over the weekend we knew it was time.

When I found a small lump on her ribs at the start of last year we never thought that we would have anywhere near this long left with her. The Galastop kept that lump under control the whole time and, while there may well have been some secondary internal tumours affecting her health at the end, it was old age that caught up with her. She made it to the very respectable age of two and a half; outliving her sister Yori by nine months.

When she joined us she didn’t have any really distinctive personality traits. She wasn’t a jumper or a climber or a biter or a hider; she was just a sweet little ratty (who roaned out her grey and black baby colouring in just a couple of weeks!). And then she got the ear infection which left her with an adorable head tilt and the ability to go round corners like no other rat. Suddenly she was the rat who could escape onto the top of the cage in the blink of an eye, and did so at every opportunity. She took a liking to spiralling her way down my t-shirt, from which vantage point she would often lick my face (going through a phase of sticking her tongue up my nose which was just a bit disturbing) and if she wasn’t licking, she’d be chewing on the neck of the t-shirt.

She grew old gracefully, tolerating the newcomers and putting them in their place with a good power grooming when needed. I will miss that sweet, tilty face.

Meet the Rats: Quorra and Yori

We were going to wait until the end of October last year — when Rocket and Rommie would turn one — before getting more rats, but then some became available at the end of September and little ratties are so cute that, once seen, they just cannot be left behind.

Quorra and Yori: Then
Quorra and Yori shortly after we brought them home

Yori is a tiny grey hooded dumbo. Her fur is very slightly longer than the others, which means that, no matter how much she grooms herself, she always looks like she’s been dragged through a hedge backwards. She came down with a respiratory infection soon after we got her home; luckily it was nothing worse than a lot of sneezing, but it did mean she didn’t put on weight as quickly as her sister. At nearly nine months old, she is still small enough to comfortably sit on the palm of my hand.

Even though she is the smallest ratty, she is convinced she should be the boss of the cage: she always has one or two little scratches where one of the others has got truly fed up with her following them around the cage, indulging in power grooming and inappropriate sniffing.

She is the lickiest rat we have ever had, by far, and will happily sit and lick her way over your hand given the chance. She is also a little horror for hiding food. When I feed them she goes around picking up anything the size of a pea or bigger and systematically carrying it off into the hammock or hut to “hide” it. This doesn’t fool anyone. I wouldn’t mind so much if she was storing it to eat later, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.

Quorra is a roan dumbo. Roans are the con artists of ratty colouring: when we got her she was a lovely dark grey with an unusual black patch across the back of her neck, now she is mostly white with a few darker bits scattered around.

At the end of January, she developed a bit of a head tilt. A course of steroids and antibiotic injections seemed to sort out the underlying ear infection, though she has been left with a permanently skewed outlook (which is utterly endearing). The twisty head has given her superpowers. She can rotate her way out on to the top of the cage, or down into a t-shirt, with remarkable speed and ease. Although she does sometimes forget to check whether there is actually any ground underneath where she’s heading, the tilt has really not slowed her down at all.

Quorra loves the “disappearing down a t-shirt” trick. I let her get away with it because it is just so adorable when she spins round and pops her tilty little head out the top and stares at you (it helps that she is neither the heaviest nor spikiest rat).

She also loves drinking from people’s cups of tea. And then splashing around in them.

Where Yori is licky, Quorra is kissy. Many times when she pops out of the top of my t-shirt, she follows it up with a face or lip lick as I look down at her. This is cute. Not so cute is when she decides that she must investigate further and tries to pull my lip out of the way with her pointy little ratty claws; this behaviour is not encouraged.

Together they are a wonderfully entertaining addition to the madhouse.

Quorra and Yori: Now
Quorra and Yori earlier this year