Birthdays come twice a year

The boys have been sick and they still are, but at the moment, it seems to be levelling out. They are not better, but better than they were a little while ago. I won’t go into detail, but it has been tiring. Garrus lost a lot of weight, and Godric seemed to have found it all and taken it for himself – he is such a pompom now! There is no more confusing him and Eric – the difference in weight is enormous. I am feeding Garrus extra and he doesn’t seem to be losing any more.

One bright note – we had another birthday party. Birthdays come twice a year in our home. Mordin, Garrus and Thane were born around the same time and they turned one in February this year.

Tyrion, Eric and Godric are all petshop rats and I guess their birthdays to be in July, with Eric and Godric turning two and Tyrion turning one. So they all got a little treat to celebrate. They were a little put out that mommy used it as a photo opportunity and made camera clacking sounds while they were trying to eat. The noms were worth it though.

Fighting… and making up

Ever since Tyrion got to be a ‘big boy’ (read: teenager) and started throwing his 300g of weight around (he is still the smallest of the pack), he and Thane have not seen eye to eye. Tyrion pins Thane, perhaps even  gets a bit puffy in doing so, and then moves on with his life, happy in the knowledge that he is king of the neighbourhood. Later, when it comes time to go to bed, Tyrion will happily climb into the same bed as his subject, Thane, but Thane is not interested in sleeping with the enemy.

Hiss!

Hiss! Gerrofit!

Lately it seems to have calmed down a bit, and they are not fighting as often. It is so much cuter when they cuddle:

Put aside their differences.

Put aside their differences.

Thane really is a character all his own. He is the most timid of my rat pack; the most likely to stay in his cage rather than come out, the quickest to go back to his cage when he is out, and the first to run and hide at the slightest noise. He does have his own ‘curiosity time’, though, and it doesn’t seem to be on the same schedule as everyone else. He can be very curious at times and it is so much fun to watch his curiosity battle it out with his inherent fear of everything. I will leave you with this final picture, which is one of my favourite ‘Thane moments’.

Um... hello?

Um… hello?

Time hurries on

I have not written in a while, I know. I have not felt there has been much to say lately. I keep on medicating, hoping my little guy will stop wheezing, continually being disappointed. Sometimes it is a psychological battle to get him to take it – he is too smart for his own good and not yet old enough to sagely accept the slightly funny-tasting porridge for the gift that it nevertheless is – something Godric came to do over time.

Apart from that, the boys are growing, their lives a microcosm; a couple of months pass, half a year, and we don’t even notice it. We say to each other, ‘wow, the year is passing quickly’ when we suddenly realise it’s April – just like we do every year.

And in that time passing unnoticed, Tyrion goes from baby to teenager, fighting with his brothers, though still the smallest of the group.  Garrus, Mordin and Thane turn one and I am so caught up in my thoughts, I only remember 3 weeks later – unforgiveable as two of them have pedigrees and I know their exact birth date. We have a small party of muffins.

It's MY birthday!

It’s MY birthday!

Time passes, and slowly the older boys can be convinced to cuddle from time to time. My identical black Berkshires – Eric and Godric – are now easier to tell apart from the front. Godric’s nose has gone brown, while Eric’s is more grey. Godric is also now about 100g heavier than Eric – as much a sign of Eric’s current illness as of Godric’s lifelong illness. Godric has been getting his medicine in a spoonful of porridge twice a day for most of his life. They will turn 2 in just a few months. Eric occasionally lets me cuddle him now, for a short while at a time – such precious moments.

The wheezing is an issue with the current group, something I don’t recall ever experiencing before with my previous rats. Perhaps once it goes around the group, you battle to get rid of it. We keep on keeping on, trying different medications, trying to keep the temperature steady, the cage clean… Some of them show improvement, others not so much.

Anyway, here are some more photos from the birthday party:

IMG_1117 IMG_1120 IMG_1084 IMG_1093

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!

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.

Why can’t we have nice things?

You didn’t say I couldn’t.

After the initial destruction of my bedding that came with my first rat experience, I have learned. I have adabpted. I have covered my stuff with fleece and made sure those little teeth have other things to keep them occupied.

My dear, clever little Garrus is quite the adventurous sort and has taught himself all manner of things. Things like: how to climb onto places mommy doesn’t want me to go, how to chew daddy’s stuff.

This week, Garrus did what I should have seen coming for some time now. The signs were there. I really should have made a plan earlier.

He chewed through my camera cable. I caught him in the act.

Well, things have been moved around, and Garrus won’t be abseiling quite as easily as before.

Sigh.