Not the face!

I may have mentioned before that some of my boys are at their hormonal ‘teenage’ phase, where they scuffle a lot. Generally it’s best to leave them alone and let them sort out their own pecking order, unless they draw blood. Well, Mordin has had his ear scratched open twice now – the second time just this week. It is still healing.

Now I am left wondering, well how bad does it have to get before I should get Garrus neutered? Should I get Garrus neutered or just keep them separate? Or just see how it goes. Okay, this time I didn’t actually witness what happened to his ear, but it is most likely from another fight with Garrus. I have made sure that they have stayed in separate cages this week (though they still get together at playtime), at least until Mordin’s ear heals.

But each time this pretty boy’s ears get damaged, I can’t help but think: “Not the face!”

Model Rat: Mordin is such a pretty boy!

Model Rat: Mordin is such a pretty boy!

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Just enough to wet the toes

The water is just shallow enough for us not to notice our feet have that awful watery stuff on them.

The water is just shallow enough for us not to notice our feet have that awful watery stuff on them.

My boys are not water babies. None of my rats have been really. Mostly they view any body of water deep enough to touch their belly fur with a fair amount of suspicion (especially those that have experienced The Bath – I don’t think any of my current boys have, though).

Yesterday was a very hot day and so I decided to give them their first ‘swim’ of the season. I happened to choose a shallow tray which could not hold so much water, and was pleasantly surprised to see them walking about it in, completely unfazed. So yesterday evening and this evening the rats received their helping of peas and corn sort of submerged.

I was very chuffed with Thane, standing there so bravely, with both feet planted in the water.

The result of terror is… kinda cute

Eating in defensive formation.

Eating in defensive formation.

It was just one of those evenings. One of those weeks actually, as it turned out. Perhaps it was because my afternoon work for that week was at a house with dogs and cats. It’s not like I went there and rolled in dogs and cats, but nevertheless – the rats could smell it on me. Or at least that is the only explanation I can come up with.

I must say, it is pretty insulting to come home and your rats want nothing to do with you. I mean, are these not the hands that feed them? And while we are on the topic of things the rats were still open to…

I decided to try the old faithful – a snack to help them to feel more comfortable (food usually has that effect) – so I got them each half a grape. This was quite welcome but, as you can see, not terribly reassuring.

Each rat took his little grape half and went off to hide somewhere and eat it, far away from the big bad mom. Garrus, Mordin and Godric were taking cover in the gap between the cages, and they stayed right there, huddled as far back as possible so they could eat their little snack while still keeping a watchful eye out.

Excursions and Medications

Excursions

Yesterday, the rat pack went to visit granny. We were spraying for ants at home and I didn’t want to have the rats around while that was happening.

Granny was very happy to have them, but mommy was a little bit concerned they might come back five times their original size. As it turns out, granny didn’t have the heart to wake them up for food in the middle of the day (“We wouldn’t have minded!”)

My husband and I later joined my parents for supper before taking the furkids home again.

You expect me to come out there?

INTO THE LIGHT: You expect me to come out there?

My mom has a nice, completely enclosed patio, and I thought it would be lovely to let them play there for a while. I don’t have any ‘rat-proof’ room at home so they are always restricted to the bed for playtime.

But the rats were not having any of it. It was probably too early, and perhaps when it got dark, they might have ventured out, but I took the cage inside before dark. In any case, they had a lovely evening, being spoiled by granny and playing around the living room, running across the couches, exploring ‘new’ people and begging for food. Eric was a happy boy just to sit  with his dad.

DADDY'S BOY: I'm happy here, thanks. - Eric

DADDY’S BOY: I’m happy here, thanks. – Eric

Mites

Today they had some mites treatment. I have been concerned for some time now about them having mites because they have been scratching a lot. Unfortunately the Corn Cob, which I have used as litter in their ‘litter tray’ until recently, is prone to having mites in it. It can be solved by putting the bag in the freezer for 48 hours before opening it, but I often ended up buying the new bag only when the old had run out and didn’t have time to freeze it. At the moment I am trying Aspen shavings for their litter tray.
I went to pick up 2 little doses of Revolution for puppies and kittens, and shared it out amongst the rats (about 0.05ml per rat, except for Tyrion, who got a bit less because he is small). I will see how that goes and maybe give another one in a month’s time if they have not stopped scratching.

Allergex

Godric, Mordin and Garrus have been on Allergex for a week now. I think there has been some improvement in the amount of wheezing, but it has not completely cleared up. I will keep on with it for now.

 

The gift that keeps giving back to me

Rats are smart. You only need to search ‘rats doing tricks’ on Youtube (go on – you won’t regret it) to be assured of that.

As soon as I get my head out of this tube again I will show you how smart I am!

As soon as I get my head back out of this tube I will show you how smart I am!

Part of being a good rat mommy is allowing them, or helping them, to develop that intelligence.

I often worry about whether I am doing enough for my rats to exercise their brains. I don’t have the energy or inventiveness for devising games, creating mazes and so on. And I really don’t have the patience, or the time, to teach them tricks.

Luckily, for the most part, they seem quite happy with exploring a new cardboard box. Even having ropes in the cage that they need to climb or balance on can help.

One of the ‘games’ I like to play with them is one that rewards me too with a twisted sort of entertainment. You see, every now and then I like to let them work for their food.

Lemme at it!

Lemme at it!

I wrap up a little treat in some paper and watch the madness unfold as they try to unwrap it and get the food out, all the while trying to make sure that nobody else gets any. Unfortunately this time, they have a monster toy to hide in – and they made good use of it. I hardly got to see any of the crazy unwrapping action.

Are your sure it's all gone? I'm just gonna check...

Are your sure it’s all gone? I’m just gonna check…

Okay, to be completely honest, if it takes them too long to get to the food, I do sometimes take pity on them and help out with my opposable thumbs.

But nothing is cuter than a rat that is trying to run away with something that’s actually a bit too big for it to carry and it has to lift its head up high as it runs. If you have rats, you know what I’m talking about!

Add to the fun by tying up the parcel, pinata-style. This photo is from last year some time when Eric and Godric were still little.

Add to the fun by tying up the parcel, pinata-style. This photo is from last year some time when Eric and Godric were still little.

Teen Troubles: my bully boy

What did you say? I think I heard him say he's boss. Let's get him!

Mordin: What did you say? Garrus: I think I heard him say he’s boss. Let’s get him!

If you looked at most of the photos I take of Garrus, you would think him to be an adorable sweetheart. Well, he is, of course, most of the time.  But sometimes he gets into a mood – and in those moments the other rats would be better off just avoiding him.

He is a little teenage bully. At 7 months old, he, Thane and Mordin are at a hormonal time in their lives (according to the good people on the Ratanooga Forums) – probably equivalent to the teenage years. So there is a tendency to be a bit ‘macho’.

Thane and Mordin also pick fights quite a bit (Mordin likes to nip ears), but Garrus really is the worst. He picks fights with everybody, and he has poor Eric and Godric cowering and running away from him – the gentle souls. Sometimes he gets really into it; his hairs bristle up and he won’t let up.

Face-off: Garrus 'boxing' with Godric

Face-off: Garrus ‘boxing’ with Godric

The general rule is to just leave them to it unless blood is drawn, because they need to sort out the pecking order. But I must admit, I have occasionally ‘rescued’ one of my big boys (Eric and Godric) from him – they just look as if they don’t even know what hit them.  They really don’t fight back much anymore, like in the photo to the right – rather they end up on their backs just kicking at him.

Garrus really is the most aggressive rat I have had so far, so I hope the reign of terror ends soon, and everyone can just agree that Garrus is boss… tyrant… whatever.

Anticipation is the best part

Every evening, after play-time, the rats start making their way back from my bed to the table with the cages. Some of the rats haven't worked out how to make the jump yet, so those who are left on the bed have to be transported.  I call them. "Mordin! Tyrion!" and whoever else might still be there. They come running, hop onto my hand, and I transfer them to the table.  Then I crouch down next to the table.  The food container is on the floor under the table, so the fuzzbutts know exactly what is coming next. As if the normal procession of the evening's routine were not enough to tell them.  I must be a terrible ratty mom, because exactly at that moment I pause - and listen to them softly grinding their teeth in anticipation. It's the most beautiful thing, that small sound.  After enjoying their anticipation for a moment, I dramatically open the food container and waft the scent up toward them with the lid. The sound of teeth grinding intensifies.  At this point it sometimes happens that one rat will get so excited that he tips forward over the edge of the table and has to grip the table-top frantically with his back legs to keep from falling. Then mommy has to lift him back onto the table.  As I dish up the food, they climb over each other from left to right, each hoping that the step to the left or right will take them closer, to a more optimal position to be at the dinner bowl first.   Once I put the bowl down there is just a brief struggle to be one of the first rats to get their heads into the bowl - it's not quite wide enough for six heads at once - some rapid scurrying to find a quiet spot to eat the four or five pieces they managed to grab at once, and then... a hush comes over the table. And all that is left is the munching: Previous lineups of my rats anticipating dinner

Anticipation through the Ages

Every evening, after play-time, the rats start making their way back from my bed to the table with the cages. Some of the rats haven’t worked out how to make the jump yet, so those who are left on the bed have to be transported.

I call them. “Mordin! Tyrion!” and whoever else might still be there. They come running, hop onto my hand, and I transfer them to the table.

Then I crouch down next to the table.

The food container is on the floor under the table, so the fuzzbutts know exactly what is coming next. As if the normal procession of the evening’s routine were not enough to tell them.

I must be a terrible ratty mom, because exactly at that moment I pause – and listen to them softly grinding their teeth in anticipation. It’s the most beautiful thing, that small sound.

After enjoying their anticipation for a moment, I dramatically open the food container and waft the scent up toward them with the lid. The sound of teeth grinding intensifies.

At this point it sometimes happens that one rat will get so excited that he tips forward over the edge of the table and has to grip the table-top frantically with his back legs to keep from falling. Mommy has to lift him back onto the table.

As I dish up the food, they climb over each other from left to right, each hoping that the step to the left or right will take them closer, to a more optimal position to be at the dinner bowl first.

Once I put the bowl down there is just a brief struggle to be one of the first rats to get their heads into the bowl – it’s not quite wide enough for six heads at once – some rapid scurrying to find a quiet spot to eat the four or five pieces they managed to grab at once, and then… a hush comes over the table. And all that is left is the munching.