Rocket RIP

We knew that our time with Rocket was going to be limited when we discovered a pea-sized lump in her groin last November.

She had just turned two years old and had a bit of a snuffle, so I decided against getting it removed there and then. I wasn’t keen on putting her through surgery and, more importantly, the recovery time alone in a smaller cage — especially as there was a good chance that (from past experience) another lump would appear within a few weeks…

She got over her snuffles and, while the lump was growing, it was growing very slowly. She was showing signs of ageing: generally slowing down, happy to just find somewhere to curl up when she was out with us in the evening, a little weakness in her back legs, and generally turning into a grumpy old rat. She had always been a “toothy” rat, ready to give a bit of a nip to get your attention or express her irritability, and this behaviour got more pronounced over the last few months.

In the end, a few weeks ago, Rocket left us as quickly as she had arrived. Those signs of ageing were, with hindsight, signs of a pituitary tumour and she went from being a happy sofa companion one evening to being unable to hold her food the next. Her decline was so rapid and so drastic. I spent the evening cuddling her and feeding her, and took her for a last visit to the vet the next morning.

Rocket was a very special grumpy rat who stole my heart and she will be greatly missed.

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Spoke too soon

I was a bit premature in announcing how well Midge was settling in.

There had been a few squabbles the first week she was here, though all the ones I’d seen were the result of Quorra being over-enthusiastic with grooming the newcomer. And even then it was no worse than a bit of squeaking, pinning and fluffing up.

Then, when I checked on them on Tuesday morning, I noticed a smear of blood on Midge’s side. A quick check revealed

  • Midge had two deep scratches on either side of her ribs, one of which was full thickness through the skin.
  • Yori had a damaged claw (which she lost that evening, cue more blood).
  • Rocket had a couple of nasty looking puncture wounds around her shoulder.
  • Quorra and Rommie were completely untouched.

I have no idea what went on — the injured ratties hadn’t shown any signs of scrapping with each other in the previous week or so. And everyone was quiet and settled by the time I went to do the breakfast snack run, even though the blood was very fresh so it can’t have been long since whatever happened happened.

I took Midge over to the vets to get checked out and came away with some Baytril for her and Rocket and some hibiscrub to keep everyone’s wounds clean while they healed.

Luckily rats heal remarkably quickly. To the extent that, the following morning, I couldn’t even find the spots where Rocket had been spiked — so I just generally wet her shoulder and surrounding area with the hibiscrub; she was not impressed.

Midge’s wounds scabbed up quickly too, but I kept her separate from the others to avoid both excessive grooming and further scraps.

Attempts at getting them back together, even one-on-one on the sofa, weren’t looking promising. I’m sure we’d have been able to integrate them successfully given enough time, but then I chatted to her owner at the weekend and she decided to take Midge back. I think she’d been missing her a lot and this was a really good excuse to keep her. She also seems to have been able to use it as leverage for getting more rats instead of the sugar gliders that her boyfriend was wanting 🙂

Our lot have settled back down into their old ways and seem a lot more relaxed. And I don’t have to worry about trying to figure out ratty psychology.

It’s a shame it didn’t work out, but at least everyone is happy where they are.

Settling in

So, Rocket and Rommie have been with us for a month now and they are settling in nicely. As expected, they need some extra time and attention to get them fully socialised — after all, when we brought them home they were more than twice the age the other girls were when they arrived.

Rocket

Rocket — aka Rocket McBitey — requires the most patience; she’s easy enough to scoop up and you can even hold her, but she has a bad habit of trying to get her opinion across with her teeth. It’s mostly her being territorial in the cage, though she does occasionally nip when she’s out as well. I suspect that, especially given the speed at which she moved when we went to collect her, she hadn’t been handled much and had learned that the occasional nip would discourage people from even trying. But not me. I don’t back off. She will eventually learn that biting doesn’t work. Thankfully she doesn’t come close to breaking the skin. And she’s so cute and adorable that it’s hard to get annoyed with her.

Rommie

Rommie is altogether more outgoing. The main problem with her is trying to hold her as she is exceptionally wriggly. And hyperactive. And a determined climber. Her latest trick is to try and climb up the anglepoise lamp, which is ridiculously funny to watch because she’s so persistent about it. I had to put a stop to it when she was standing on the back of the sofa, eyeing up the lamp — you could see her little ratty brain trying to work out whether she could jump over to it. She will climb anything she can: furniture, the open cage doors (she is on a mission to see what is higher than the top of the cage), and people (Codepope stood up from his chair the other day only to discover that she was already clinging to his leg). I dread her making a break for it and discovering the curtains!

Rocket & Rommie

They are both settling in nicely and make interesting company for Song, although she does sometimes look at me in a way that makes me feel like I should apologise to her 🙂

Meet the Rats: Rocket and Rommie

Rocket and RommieThe new girls now have names! After much pondering we’ve decided to abandon the idea of trying to find a female SF name that easily splits into two nice ratty names à la River Song.

The splodgy black hooded is Rommie. We got as far as “female ship’s avatar” as a potential theme and Rommie (from Andromeda) seemed to suit her.

Unfortunately I wasn’t taken by the other options we came up with — Holly (Red Dwarf) or Moya (Farscape) — for the grey roan, so she is Rocket, mainly because of the speed at which she moved when we first tried to get her out of her cage to come home with us.

Rommie ratAt first I assumed that Rommie was the most sociable as she was the easiest to pick up, but I soon realised that that was only because she was freezing in place at the horror of someone having the temerity to try and lift her off the ground. She is a brave and curious creature who will now happily climb onto me, but only on her terms. She is lightning quick and, even if you do managed to pick her up, she can extricate herself at incredible speed and launch herself off in unpredictable directions. Once on you, she will eventually try to get away by digging — between arm and body or through legs — and will squeak her annoyance if she isn’t immediately successful. She is definitely “most likely to escape”, but we are making progress.

Rocket ratRocket is a gorgeous blazed roan with the prettiest face. I do hope she doesn’t lose all of her colouring.

She is much easier to pick up than Rommie and will tolerate being held for a couple of seconds before trying to wriggle free. Her favourite thing is to climb, mainly, it seems, with the aim of finding a way out of wherever she is and go exploring. She has yet to learn that fingers are not food. She has the potential to be an awesome shoulder rat. Or shoulder-mounted Rocket. We haven’t yet tested her suitably as a pocket Rocket.