Rat Slideshow (All of our photos)

Saturday, 31 January 2009

Yoo-ooo Heeeeeeave Hoooooo!

Well, it happened like this.

I came into the living room and approached Rat Towers to say good morning to my boys - I was as usual beautifully gowned in a long tee-shirt nightie (red and white striped) and an antique chenille jumper (purple, black, red and cream striped - yes, it is as lovely as it sounds) with my hair styled by a night's sleep which included some enthusiastic tossing and turning. I looked as alluring as I always look first thing in the morning - my son slept through the night from a very early age, having realised that generating any noise likely to waken the beast from its slumber would result in ME arriving at his bedside, bearing a striking resemblence to a sleep-deprived Klingon with ingrowing toenails and abscessed teeth... enough said..... my son slept through the night from being about 10 minutes old.

But I digress. Going back to the original tale, remember that I'd arrived to greet my boys and to wish them good morning, whilst being dressed in immaculate style... (by the way, I refuse to pay for counselling for anybody who has recurring mental images of my morning attire). I approached Rat Towers, opened the door (very large - I actually climbed into the cage before the floor was installed and my ass is (to put it mildly) WIDE) and put in my arm to stroke my New Favourite Rat Colin who was a member of the rat pile in the top hammock. Colin greeted my affection with the normal squeezing shut of his eyes in an attempt to pretend that I wasn't really there, but I persisted. I harbour the hope that one day - one Wonderful Day - Colin my actually decide that he welcomes my attentions. Such a day wasn't to be this one, however. The stroking moved from Colin to the other boys - about six of them in a two-rat hammock - when I began to realise that it was getting a tad chilly in the basement area. Looking down I could see that the remaining rats - fifteen of them - were working as a team and dragging my nightie into the cage. Simon was at the front, acting as Fore-Rat and directing proceedings, enthusiasticaly scooping up fresh acres of my beautiful robes. By the time I'd managed to extract rats from clothing, my wobbly nether-regions were exposed to chilly morning air and several extra holes had been chewed in my precious garment.

Team work? Working with others? Rats have that taped; my ass can testify to that.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Two new boys!

We did remarkably well, given our track records. We managed to last for over a week before going out and getting a new baby or two to replace the boy we lost on January 17th - this must be some sort of record. Today we've invited two new little dumbo boys to join our rat family - a lovely little grey hooded who is our new Taylor, and a black hooded called Munch. They're installed in Rat Towers, having met the rest of the crew - they're extremely busy investigating their new environment, and teaching us new tricks. Well, new to them, that is. To us they're old tricks - a flutter of a rodent eyelash or a whimsical rodent smile and we're there to do the bidding of the boys. To the new boys, it's a great new game - see how fast those humans can cross a room if we let out a really loud squeak!!! Yay!

It's exactly a year today since we had our old Taylor, Fitzgerald and Malone (those of you who watch Without a Trace will recognise the names!) so it seemed fitting to name the new boy after my lovely grand old man. The other new boy, Munch, is named after my old darling Munch (known to all as Mummy's Munch - he was the first rat I really adored, who used to rattle the cage door and chew at the bars whenever he saw me come into a room so that he could come out for a cuddle and would spend every evening curled up on my knee) who died a year ago yesterday (Burns Night). So it's all very fitting!

I wish my new babies luck - they're currently being sniffed and shown around their new environment and have better things to do than to talk to us. Tomorrow we're having lots of new shelving and hammocks and toys being delivered so I think they're getting their chewing tackle revved up in preparation....

Another night spend tending the rodents is coming on, I can feel it ....

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Rat wicket-keeping

So, today is Saturday - exactly a week since we lost our Taylor. I awoke this morning (late - hey, it's a Saturday!) and ran to do an audit of Rat Towers to ensure that we still had a full complement of breathing rodents. Luckily all seemed to be present and correct, although it was difficult to do a full head-count since most of the 19 inhabitants seemed to be piled up in just the one of their several hammocks. Colin (recently-appointed Favourite Rat) appeared to be at the bottom of the pile - slight eye bulge and, I'm sure, acute pins and needles in his hand which was sticking out of the cage in what appeared to be a small rodent plea for salvation but seemed to be otherwise in fine fettle. There was a mass snoring session in full throttle and some determined clenching of eyelids as rats refused to wake up to be made much of. All except for the one rat. Simon.

The title of this missive "Rat wicket-keeping" may appear to be a tad mysterious, but all will become clear as I go on to explain Simon's latest little party-trick. Daddy Rat isn't the favourite human of the occupants of Rat Towers - I hold that position since I'm the one that does the feeding and the cuddling and am generally the hand-maiden to the masses - but he has struck up a relationship with young Simon. Simon is our one and only dumbo rat, and called "Simon" after my son because of the big feet and big ears belonging to the human holder of the name (it's a long story... involves lots of gouging and scratching and name-calling) and is probably the most affectionate person in Rat Towers. He's also a great wag - a natural entertainer (the rat Simon, not the human Simon or Daddy Rat) who will do much to draw attention to himself, including climbing up the clothing of anybody who comes in range and subsequently entering said clothing via sleeves, neck-lines or in the absence of both of these by chewing a Simon-sized hole to effect his entry. His latest trick when anybody opens the cage door is to go to the back of Rat Towers and then to burst into a sprint towards said door and to launch himself at terrific speed at whoever happens to be standing there. He doesn't appear to be concerned with risk-assessing his landing before engaging in the jump - he has great faith in his ability to defeat gravity - and so far hasn't actually been proved wrong. This isn't in fact due to Isaac Newton's theory being incorrect all along, but owes more to the fact that myself and Daddy Rat have developed an inspiring array of atheletic and graceful diving techniques to ensure Simon doesn't plummet earth-wards.

Hence the new skill I've included on my CV: Rat wicket-keeping.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Mummy Rat's vacancy

After the loss of my lovely boy Taylor on Saturday, I decided that Sunday would be best spent auditioning for the position of "Mummy Rat's Favourite", enabling an appointment to the job to be made as quickly as possible. It isn't that you have a Favourite Rat per se; you love them all (except LB, who has teeth and isn't afraid to use them) but I need to have one particular one to whom I pledge my allegiance. The essential characteristics on the job specification includes "lazy, loves being cuddled, is potty-trained and likes Mummy". Desirable characteristic include "having fur (the Great Mite Outbreak of 2008), not having a bad attitude to being cuddled and a lack of shyness".

Initially I had two applicants - little Simon (our one and only dumbo rat, and about 4 months old) and Big Colin. Big Colin is as laid back as they come - the only time he wakes up is to eat, drink and poo. Simon is extremely friendly - loves the entire human race, whereas Colin will be cuddled as long as it doesn't involve any exercise on his part. He sat on my knee for 45 minutes being generally cuddled and made much of, chumbling away to himself and retaining control of his bladder. Simon on the other hand is a rodent dynamo and was a blur while he was being cuddled - when I say cuddled I mean being stroked in passing when I managed to coordinate hand and rodent to be in a similar vicinity. He'll make a good Favourite Rat, but not yet...

So eventually Colin was offered the job of Favourite Rat - I had to offer it several times before he woke up sufficiently to accept the role. I don't think he's fully embraced his new duties, however, since when I returned home from work this evening Colin was asleep in a hammock. He deigned to accept a rat treat from me and allowed me to stroke him, but that was it. I see that I shall have to offer training....

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Goodbye, grand old man

Today we said goodbye to Taylor, the grand old man of Rat Towers. He was one of my best friends - he never minded when I was tired or tatty or generally disgruntled and was always happy to come out to see me and chumble with me. He had the ability to boggle his eyes more enthusiastically than any other rat I've ever seen, and I shall miss him more than I can put into words.

Some may say, "but he was just a rat!" but those of us who are lucky enough to share our lives with these lovely little creatures will know otherwise, and will know what the family is feeling right about now.

Bless you, Taylor, and thank you for sharing your life with me, and also sharing your death with me.

Mummy Rat xxxxx

From Daddy Rat - Taylor will be missed by everyone he was just one of those that loved everyone. Here is a picture I took of him a day before he left us.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

More on medicating a rat

I see that Daddy Rat has made a post about medicating a rat... yes - he's Watched Me Do It LOADS of times!!!! When we first started keeping rats and Grissom (my first baby boy) had something wrong with him - I can't remember what it was, since it's quite a few rats ago - we asked the vet the best way to give medication to a reluctant rodent. He went to a lot of trouble showing us - calling in his four nurses, two assistant vets and a partridge in a pear tree - to demonstrate how one person could hold the rat (while the other three assisted in holding said rat), two more could hold the rat's mouth open and the final one could use the pipette to drop the medicine into the enraged rodent's mouth. So we went home and tried it. We used up half the phial of medication, ruined two sets of human clothing and had an indignant (and non-medicated) rat. Conclusion: in the absence of a full medical team (and a partridge) and after seeking medical attention myself to have two of my fingers sewn back on, there had to be an easier way.

First of all, calling into play my forty years of cat ownership experience (or is that ownership by cat experience?) I decided I'd mix the medicine with some fish paste. Rats don't, it seems, like fish paste. Unless the fish paste is unmedicated, of course - in which case, rats LOVE fish paste. So we moved on to something else: let's put it on a rat sweetie. After months of frantic pleadings for rat sweeties to be issued at five minute intervals, all of a sudden Rats Don't Like Rat Sweeties. After I'd come out of my month-long stay at the asylum and the electric shock treatments had taken effect, I hit upon another idea: how about using something that rats LOVE but that rats don't get?? HA!!! Thus the idea of putting the medication onto a piece of digestive biscuit was born.... rats will walk over hot coals for a square of digestive biscuit, so they're not going to reject such a treat just because it tastes absolutely foul... especially if they think the OTHER rat is after it...! That was my life's ultimate Eureka moment. I've refined my technique now - you put the medication on the broken edge of the digestive biscuit (because it absorbs better there than on a 'cooked' surface) and you make sure that the rat needing the medication is the last to get his bit of biscuit. That way by the time he manages to wrestle it out of your reluctant fingers he feels he's earned it and will not under ANY circumstances leave any! As Daddy Rat said, some of the faces they pull while they're chewing can be comical, and sometimes I think they may doubt their own cravings once ownership of digestive has occurred, but hey! Rat + (Medication + Biscuit) = Medicated Rat (Happy Mummy Rat).

All this said, I couldn't consider life without being owned by a rat!!!

Here'ssssssssss Simon

Named after son with big ears and huge feet. Sorry about the way the video was shot but had a few tiny helpers who have never used this type of video equipment before. And Simon could not decide which is his best side.

It should also be stated that no humans were harmed during the making of this video.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Medicating a Rat

The best way we have found is to give them any liquid based medication on a biscuit (anything they really like) making sure that you give all Rats similar things then the card is played where no matter how bad it tastes the Rat will never leave it until they have consumed all the medication. In a weird way it can be very funny looking at the child like faces all screwed up with disgust.

More videos and pictures to come this weekend

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Return of the Mummy Rat...

When I said at the end of my last post, "more soon...." I really thought it might be a litle sooner than this! I had a nice little early Christmas present arrive on Christmas Eve - a lovely dose of German measles; excellent - impending senility together with a childhood ailment. Only to Mummy Rat could this happen.

Still, I've spent the majority of my week-and-a-bit holiday laid out in glorious state on the sofa with Tim and Grissom (two of my little boys) in their 'hospital' cage next to me. I've been able to just put my hand down and have two little rats to stroke - Tim in hospital with his lump (his bad leg is now better, thank goodness - twisted, but usable and still attached to Tim, which is the main thing) and Grissom as his companion. Grissom was the runt of his litter, is tiny and incredibly good natured, but with a will of iron. He is the best companion for the poor sick Tim - the least likely to get stroppy because of the smallness of the hospital cage. Another rat, Del, had spent a week or so in the hospital cage before Christmas due to the fact that he had a sore on his back (the dreaded Mite Outbreak of 2008 - several vet visits and many capsules of Ivermectin later, now thankfully contained) but was getting more stroppy by the moment by being constrained. It got to the point where you only had to look at him sideways and he was there, issuing threats.... and Del is one of the most laid-back people I know. Exit Del, enter Grissom.

We had a brief attempt at putting the ancient Taylor (the grandfather of the family and in my eyes, needing some TLC) in the hospital cage but I woke up in the middle of his first night in there (from my bed on the settee where worried Mummy Rat was maintaining vigil on the Poor Sick Tim - at that point with a very bad break of his hind left leg) with a burning need to check the hospital cage. I feared the worst - fate had woken me up to be with Tim for his last few moments on earth ... - when it turned out that what I'd ACTUALLY been woken for was to realise that we were a man down in the hospital cage. Frantic search ensued - furniture removal, lights blazing, bad language and much sweating on the part of Mummy Rat - only to find that the ancient and infirm Taylor had opened the door of the hospital cage (how? I have no clue and he's sure not telling) and had made the 18-inch leap from the roof of the hospital onto the lip of the main cage (a massive parrot cage that goes by the name of Rat Towers). The lip does the round of the bottom of the cage - to catch seed, I would imagine, but in our case to catch any donations the rats wish to make to us - and Taylor was lapping it like Damon Hill on a good day, looking for entrance to his rightful home. The others were there, cheering him on - Tim giving the slow hand-clap from the roof of the hospital cage, unable to make the leap himself being a leg short - so I didn't have the heart to put Taylor (pet name of "T-Bag" - no wonder he didn't seek closer proximity to his human fan-club) back in hospital. Poor Tim - the first potential "companion" rat I managed to grab after I'd captured everybody who was where he shouldn't be was our little energy capsule Bing. Bing in a small cage is a recipe for disaster but when it's 2:20am and you have a room to reassemble before you can get back to fake-bed to resume vigil over the Poor Sick Tim, it was all I was prepared to consider.

And I got sick, why...? To quote Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber in Die Hard, "It's amazing I'm sane...."

Tim making a break for it

It was supposed to be a video of Grissom but Tim had other ideas and he then took over to star in his own movie.

Happy New Year

Happy New year one and all and welcome back to our blog. Not much has changed since we last updated all rats still in good condition. We did have a worry with Rat (Tim) he had rather a large lump on his right upper leg which was soft to the touch and moved around. After speaking to Dr Rat (Vet) he said he would have to stick a needle in Tim to find out the problem.

Tim did not like the thought of this so performed his own lumpectomy using his teeth and that of his friend Grissom - well we are pleased to say the lump has now gone and apart from a small wound which we are treating with Baytril he is up and around and causing trouble again.