Charlotte came home with me on 2nd January 2007. She had been left on her own in the pet shop where I work and the day I’d decided i was going to have her, Treacle was brought back so they came home together.

Charlotte was very nervous at first and would hide under the furniture when we let her out, so we had to free-range her on the bed to prevent her hiding. It took her about three weeks before she developed her confidence and began to enjoy out time, so her and Treacle then had free run of the bedroom. It was Charlotte that showed me how much rats like sleeves – for a long time she would only come out of the cage into a sleeve.

Charlotte was one of my OH’s favourites. She was quite cuddly and he loved that she would come to him if you rustled a bag of treats. Charlotte loved her food. Even when she got old, she would fight the youngsters for the good stuff, like a chicken bone. She was fantastic with other rats and I’m fairly certain that she was alpha rat, as no-one ever argued with her and she always got her own way with the food! She lived with 11 other rats at one time and could always be found snuggled up in a big heap, and more recently with Doughnut.

Charlotte had a lump removed in August last year and recovered really well. Another lump began to develop in December, so I’d been carefully watching her since then. She got old and thin and developed cataracts but remained happy and was eating well and coming out for a short wander at out time. She’d been slowing down over the last couple of months and I noticed at the end of April that she was dirty around her back end and unable to keep herself clean, so we said goodbye before it made her uncomfortable. She outlived 5 of her cage mates and her loss is the end of an era. Her and Treacle were the two that started the love of rats and she’ll have a special place in my heart forever.

Baby Charlotte, a day or 2 after arriving home:

Finding somewhere to hide from the big wide world:

Sharing a cup of tea with me and Sugar:

Enjoying her Christmas stocking:

And growing old gracefully, but still enjoying the food!

Goodbye Charlotte, my special old lady, go find Treacle and the other girls….

It was a sad day today here at Northern Lights Rats. I had to have both Charlotte and Monty put to sleep this morning.

I took Charlotte out for a cuddle a couple of days ago and found her undersides wet with poo & urine. It appeared she was loosing control of her bowels or something, then because of her lump, was unable to clean herself up. I cleaned her and then checked again yesterday and today, hoping it was just a one off, but last night she was the same, so we decided it was time to say goodbye. Her and Treacle were the first two girls and the ones that started it all. Charlotte was a beautiful rat and a lovely old lady. Losing her is the end of an era.

Monty had seemed to be getting a bit better, then went downhill again, and it seemed unfair to keep dragging him to the vets to basically keep him alive with little quality of life. He just looked so sad all the time.

I will do them both proper obits tomorrow.

Doughnut was meant to be having her op today, but the vet was unhappy with the speed that her lumps had grown just since the last visit so refused to operate on her. Her lump in her armpit is now spreading along her side and the one underneath has spread around her vulva and down her back leg. The vet said she would have to leave so much of it behind that it would have grown back again in about a month and she would take a while to recover from the major op that it would be. So I bought her home and we just have to monitor her quality of life.

The one good piece of news is that Jemima’s abcess appears to be getting better. I am still getting gack out of the hole, but less every day, so fingers crossed it will be healed up soon. Poor Jemima really hates having it cleaned and squeaks the whole time whilst running up my arm. Trying to get her out of the cage is hard work now too, as she knows i’m going to soak her in warm water and poke her about!!

I’m just hoping I get a run of healthy rats for a few months now as I seem to have been having nothing but trouble recently!

Recent updates

December 31, 2008

I can’t believe i’ve not updated this since the 10th December! Some sort-of -sad news first. The morning of the 23rd, when Doughnut was meant to be operated on, I checked her over and found another lump in her groin. I cancelled the op and took her in on Christmas eve for the vet to look at her. The second lump is not easily moveable like the first one and feels more attached, and therefore would be harder to remove. The vet said that as she has two, she may have internal ones too and there is always a chance of mammary lumps re-occuring and to my way of thinking as she already has two, there is more of a chance of her developing more. Therefore, we have decided to leave them and simply monitor her quality of life. At the moment she is absoloutely fine, coming out to play and definitely continuing¬† to enjoy her food! On one hand it’s sad to know that she’s not likely to be with us in a couple of months, but there’s still a part of me that’s happy that she doesn’t have to go through an op.

Treacle’s a lot better now. She still has slight snottles but is brighter in herself and has put a little bit of weight on, though she is still very skinny. She has also developed a lump down in her groin, and Charlotte has one on her side. Both of them are too old to go through an op, so it’s just a matter of time with my old girlies too ūüė¶

Luke seems to be a bit more settled as well, so he is still with Charlie and co. All of his scabs have cleared up, so it may have been mites after all.

The three new boys are continuing to cause havoc. Bob injured his tail about a week ago.I’m not sure how, but he was in the play pen and he does climb the cage. The wound was a line across the top of his tail, so I think it’s likely that one of the girls grabbed hold of it, or he got it trapped somehow! It’s healing well, though I was a bit worried when he first did it as there was quite a lot of blood and it was obviously very sore, he was sat for ages holding onto it licking it! I have a lovely picture of him hanging off the top of the girls’ aviary, just demonstrating what a trouble he is. And it was taken a day or two after he hurt his tail! I need to take it off my phone, but i’ll put it up soon. Monty is a bit snotty at the moment, but not ill with it, but I’m giving him some Synulox i’ve got here, so hoping that will help.

So that’s what’s been happening recently. I will have to have a new year rundown and look forward but will do that in a separate post so I don’t end up with massive essay style posts!!

And if I don’t get round to it before.. Happy New Year to all ūüôā

A bit more info…

August 23, 2008

on the follicular tumour, from a highly experienced rat breeder on the NFRS forum. There are apparently different types and some contain hair follicules. They can get quite big, which I can imagine as Charlotte’s was growing fairly quickly and there’s no particular reason why some rats get them. The good news is that it’s unlikely to reoccur.

I have been thinking some more about my cages and groups today and have come to a sort-of decision. When I get beau castrated i’m going to put him in with my younger girls (Sugar’s ‘babies’ and Fogwatt) which will be a group of 5. I will then have the group of 4 boys and a group of 7, which will be my six ‘oldies’ who are all now older than a year, and Sugar. I’m going to split the Duetto and put the boys in the bottom, and the girls and Beau in the top and put the ‘oldies’ in the Tommy. I’m going to put the Tommy back to how it should be with levels and ramps though to make it easier for them to get about (not that they really need help!). That’s the current plan anyway! Obviously depends on Beau getting on with the girls.

I also have noticed recently that Mustard is putting on weight and not being quite as kamikazee as usual, so I weighed her today and she is 352g, which is about 70g heavier than the 280ish g she’s been forever! I’m not sure why this is, hopefully she’s just getting old and a bit slower so not burning up quite as many calories. Really hoping she’s not pregnant, which i think is unlikely as i’m sure if she was going to get into the boys cage she would have done it before now and, coz I always think of the worse, another option could be pyometra which is a pus-filled uterus so causes ratty to look pregnant. I will definitely be¬†keeping an eye on her over the next few days.

Lump results

August 18, 2008

I got the results from the girls’ lump tests. Sugar’s and Treacle’s were both benign mammary lumps and Charlotte’s was a benign follicular tumour. Obviously i’m really pleased that all three were benign and all three were fully removed.

I was a bit surprised that Sugar’s was a mammary lump as spaying is meant to decrease the likelihood of getting them and I’m sure i’ve read that rats that have litters don’t generally get them either. I don’t think she is an old girl. But then, it is hard to tell, I guess. She is overweight and weight is thought to increase the change of tumour development, so I need to get back on top of her diet. I’m assuming it means she is of a type that is particularly prone to them, so I just need to keep checking her regularly and get her back on the diet!

I have posted on the NFRS forum about Charlotte’s as i don’t even know what a follicular tumour is and what this means in term of other health prospects, re-growth etc. Hopefully someone else will have some knowledge.

They are all back in the aviary now with the other girls. They decided last week that they weren’t coming back out after play time so I left them to it. Their wounds are healing ok. Treacle’s is gone completely and Sugar’s is still only visible at either end but is healing well. Charlotte’s fur is starting to grow¬†back but I think her wound is itching her as she has been scratching and has a couple of nasty scratches around the wound and also a strange scabby area at the top of the wound that looks like a dry blister. I’m keeping an eye on it at the moment and if it grows I shall take her back to the vet. I need to try the tea tree cream on it too. In themselves however, they are all perfectly fine and happy and i’m really pleased at how everything went.

The Freddy

August 10, 2008

I moved Sugar, Charlotte and Treacle into the Freddy yesterday, so they’re now back in the rat shed. Let them out to play with the rest of the girls today and apart from a load of bum-sniffing there was no trouble. Had to remove Sugar and Charlotte from the aviary to put them back in the Freddy when play time was finished. I’m sure they were wondering what I was up to. I just don’t think their wounds are healed enough to risk any roughness with the other girls. It’ll probably only be about a week though and they can all go back in together.

Sugar’s wound has opened up slightly right at the bottom and there is a fairly deep looking hole there, but it’s clean and not hot or anything so i’m just keeping an eye on it at the moment. I tried to get photos of all the wounds but Treacle’s and Sugar’s are in such awkward places I need someone else to hold them and Steve’s away and probably wouldn’t hold them firmly enough anyway! Here is Charlotte’s though. Pretty impressive I reckon.

And here’s their cage. (Note the Sputnik, it’s an XL version that Savic have recently started making):

Charlotte and Treacle enjoying the Sputnik:

And here’s a little vid of the girls exploring when¬†I first put them in. They especially made a point of climbing up the bars onto the shelf instead of using the ramp, just to prove they were feeling fine!

Sugar, Charlotte and Treacle exploring their Freddy cage

Lump update

August 9, 2008

Oops forgot to update this on Tuesday. They all got on fine, all lumps removed successfully. Charlotte’s was the largest and hardest to remove as it was actually attached to some internal tissue. I collected them at about 3.30pm after being called at 1.30 by the vet to say they were awake and they were all moving about and eating straight away, just a wee bit wobbly.

We had a strange occurance with Treacle who wouldn’t stop licking her front feet as if they were insanely itchy. It got so bad that by Tuesday evening she’d made two of her toes bleed and her feet were pink and swollen. I gave her a quarter of a quarter of an antihistamine tablet, dosed her with invermectin in case it was mites and gave them some yummy food and she did stop grooming to eat. I half expected to wake up Wednesday and find her with missing toes! Luckily she was loads better by Wednesday, still grooming and scratching but not obsessively. Apparently, sometimes the anaesthetic can cause a tingly, pins-and-needles effect, so I wonder if it was that. I bought some tea tree cream to put on her feet and they’re fine now and she’s settled down and back to normal.

Charlotte and Treacle are both a bit sneezy but that may be due to being indoors and the air being a bit dry. Today i’m moving them back out to the shed, but not putting them in with the other girls yet, I just feel that Fogwatt and Fudge are a bit arguementative and I don’t want the girl’s wounds to be pulled apart¬†due to¬†over exertion or stress them out too much. I am going to set up the new Freddy cage and they can stay in that temporarily. I will let them out to play with the other girls though. I wonder if they’ll be pleased to see each other or not take much notice?!

The lumps have been sent off to the lab for testing and I should have the results by the middle of next week, so will report what they turn out to be. The vet said that only Treacle’s appeared to be a mammary lump, so i’m looking forward to finding out what the other two were.

I also need to add that The Rat Warehouse are marvellous and after sending them an email, explaining I needed my bits due to the rats undergoing surgery, my stuff was despatched straight away by first class post and arrived the next day.

Getting ready….

August 4, 2008

for tomorrow’s lump removals. I am begining to get organised. Hopefully anyway! Luckily I am only working till 11 tomorrow so I will be able to collect the girls from the vets as soon as I am allowed to. And my work are very kindly allowing me some time to drop them off between 9 and half past in the morning.¬†(not that I actually asked for permission, just told them I had to!).

I need to clean out their carrier, which the vet is going to put them all after their ops so they come round together which will hopefully minimise stress a little. I also have to take food for them so have got some nature’s menu puppy food and will mix some tuna and rice up and put some strawberries and grapes in a bowl so they have a choice. It’s quite a high energy mix with lots of protein and carbs and also moisture to avoid potential dehydration. I can fit a water bottle to the carrier, so will put some ‘Dr Squiggles’ (a vit/mineral supplement) in their water and may also mix up some lactol for them.

I also went shopping last night at Rat Warehouse and ordered some Nutrical and some Polyaid. Nutrical is a high calorie dietry supplement especially suited for sick ratties who aren’t eating a lot, so it will help the girls if they aren’t eating very well after their op. The polyaid is also a food substitute for emergencies which I think goes in their water. So, hopefuly I’m sorted for all eventualities. I keep telling myself they will be fine and Sugar and Tinks were fine after their spays which are more invasive generally than a tumour removal. I just worry about them going under the anasthetic and not waking up, or being too weak and not eating properly.

I’m going to make up a hospital cage for them to go in in our room and I have a hot water bottle I can wrap up and put under half of the cage to keep them warm. I do think i’ve thought of everything. I shall update tomorrow on how they got on.

Lumpy ladies

July 24, 2008

I haven’t been to the vets for a while with the rats so they must have thought it was time for me to take a trip as I have three girlies that have developed lumps in the past week, Sugar, Treacle and Charlotte.

I am pretty sure Sugar’s is an abcess as it seems to be getting darker and moved about freely with the skin. It’s not popped yet, so i’m bathing it in hot water to attempt to speed it up a bit, so hopefully it will soon.

I’m more worried about Charlotte and Treacle, especially as they are old ladies now (about 21 – 22 months) and old lady rats are prone to mammary tumours, particularly badly bred petshop ratties (which they both are).

Charlotte’s is on her side, about the size of a marble and pretty hard. It does move about with the skin though and I can get my fingers round behind it, so it doesn’t seem attached. According to my ‘rat health’ book and ‘NFRS handbook’ mammary tumours are normally benign and it’s generally the attached ones that are something agressive. They can be removed quite easily, so hopefully the vets will remove it if it is a tumour, as she’s still bright and full of life. It’s also recomended spaying them at the same time as this can help prevent tumours re-ocurring which they generally do, but i’m not sure about this due to her age and it being a pretty invasive op.

Treacle’s is weird. It’s on her chest (breast bone area equivalent in a person) and is soft and moves around. Sometimes it seems really noticeable and othertimes not so.

I’m off up the vets with them this afternoon so will update later.

because Sugar has so far managed to lose not a single gram. Bless her.

The Alpha Herbal food finally arrived and is now the base of the shunamite mix and they seem to really like it. Their bowls are empty in the evenings and because of the lack of fresh food i’ve had to put another bowl in the boys cage as they’re eating more dry food.

I think the alpha herbal is a better mix as a ‘kidney friendly’ diet for Treacle and Charlotte. As rats get older most of them have a degree of kidney failure. One way that has been suggested of controlling this is controlling the protein intake by reducing it and providing digestible protein such as eggs and fish. Both Treacle and Charlotte are about¬†20 months now which is classed as ‘old’ so even though neither of them are showing symptoms I thought it would be good for them to modify the diet. It’s not exactly as recommended in the Scuttling Gourmet book which is detailed here: Kidney friendly rat diet but I do have the recommended cereals in my mix and the dog kibble I use is a fish and rice one (from James Wellbeloved).¬†My next mix will contain the higher proportion of salt crackers and I will need to get some egg noodles. I am not adding the extras at the moment as they are not recommended for younger rats, but I will get some nature diet lite to give them more regularly. Fingers crossed it will help prolong the lives of my two old ladies. ¬†