ratcreature: sniffle (sniffle)
Kieran 7.1.2012 - 2.9.2013


7.1.2012 - 2.9.2013

I brought Kieran to be euthanized this morning. So he only survived his brother Rusty by two weeks. He had stopped eating over the weekend, no matter what tasty morsels I offered (eggs, cooked rice, chocolate pudding...), only licking a little bit of applesauce a few times, and he wasn't drinking anymore either, so I resorted to dribbling some water in his mouth two or three times a day. He also had more and more trouble with walking and balance over the last week from the ear tumor's effects until he more or less only crawled and scooted if he moved at all, and because he was so weakened the respiratory infections had started to set in. He barely groomed himself either.

The vet was very busy this morning so unfortunately I had to wait for quite a while, and it was another sign of Kieran's misery that he just lay still on his side while I was petting him, when normally he wouldn't, especially not with so much noise and mayhem of barking dogs and such. He just wasn't reacting to anything anymore. Thankfully, unlike with Rusty, this time it only took one injection, and he died quickly as I held him in my arms.

Kieran was the largest and boldest of their group, ruthlessly snatching food he wanted from his brothers, and of course it was him dishing it out in the scuffle that caused Oskar the internal injury that eventually killed him. But Kieran still wasn't overly aggressive for a male rat or anything like that, mostly it was posturing and chases, with only that single bite ever needing treatment, and it was more a tragic accident that Oskar somehow internal damage too. And of course he was sweet with me and stuck with passive resistance even in the face of medicine application, although quite effective one at times. He never snapped at the vet either.

He was the first rat I've had who was entirely black with no white spots anywhere (hence his name), and he was quite striking in his way. He was large but remained agile until the tumor started to affect his coordination, and he liked to jump upwards in the cage, hiding food in the highest basket and hammock where Rusty wouldn't easily go once they got older.

He had the odd and annoying habit of trying to chew on my carpet. Not just at the edges where you can pry it up to get at the foam beneath -- many rats do that, I think it's the same problem as with cables, some of the softener chemicals in the synthetic plastic must taste sweet -- but chew on the fiber from above, and not just in places with some stain remnants either.

some photos of Kieran )
ratcreature: sniffle (sniffle)
Rusty 7.1.2012 - 19.8.2013


7.1.2012 - 19.8.2013

The vet had to put poor Rusty down. When I brought Rusty in this morning he was lethargic, he hadn't even groomed the gunk from his eyes, and he couldn't walk anymore, only sort of crawl on his belly a little. And when the vet touched him, he noticed that his body temperature was much too low, because his circulation was to weak to uphold it like normal. Also he had lost a lot of weight, down to 475g from just Friday when he had 490g and that already was sharply down from his weight earlier that week. So the vet told me that there would be no chance at all that another attempt with antibiotics would help anything. So I couldn't do anything for Rusty but to hold him while the lethal injection took effect, which unfortunately took quite a while. He had to get a second injection to finally stop the last gasping, though at least he was unconscious through that, so I hope he won't have felt any of that.

I have had the worst luck with this group of brothers, with now three of four already dead before the two year mark. And I'll have to bring Kieran to the vet tomorrow as well, because the last days he started sneezing and also shaking his head frequently, so I don't know whether that is just respiratory or something with his ears. Anyway, I didn't bring him today, because I already expected that Rusty would need to be euthanized, and it wouldn't have been practical at all to leave the vet with one rat to bring home and another to bury.

Rats are made of one part heartbreak, one part vet costs and one part delight making the other two worth it (most of the time)... *sigh*

Anyway, Rusty was a really friendly rat, and very cooperative or maybe just resigned when taking meds. Which may be an odd thing to mention this prominently, but tbh it's a quality that reduces the stressful parts of keeping a rat greatly if administering even hated meds is not a half hour drama twice a day. So that is not a small thing. His brother Silas was the same, Kieran unfortunately is not, but of the "resist with all effort" persuasion. And a resisting rat can muster a lot of efforts.

Despite this ease of handling him, Rusty wasn't all that cuddly, though he got more so as he got older. And this Saturday, when he was already feeling poorly, but still went outside during playtime, he came to me and let himself be snuggled and petted for almost ten minutes before he wanted to get away. So that was a nice moment to still have with him, and I hope it comforted him.

Here are some photos of Rusty. )
ratcreature: sniffle (sniffle)
Oskar 7.1.2012 - 4.2.2013


7.1.2012 - 4.2.2013

I found Oskar dead in the cage this morning when I wanted to bring him to his wound check appointment. He hadn't been dead long then, still slightly warmer than room temperature and no rigor mortis yet. So I guess his attempts to rejoin the others last night hadn't been a sign of him becoming more active again and healing, but were a desperate last ditch effort for contact on his part.

I still brought him to the vet, to see whether she might be able to tell me what went wrong, but without sending him to a pathologist for an autopsy she could only tell me that the wound itself wasn't infected and that his kidneys felt enlarged. Her best guess was that he either sustained some invisible, internal injury from the fight and eventually died from that, or that antibiotic-resistant bacteria entered through the wound, and caused systemic infection right away rather than wound infection. I decided against an autopsy, which would have cost at least €60, because it's not like knowing for sure would do any good to him now.

This group of brothers just has the worst luck. First Silas, and now Oskar.

Oskar wasn't a cuddly rat, but still friendly, and unlike some of his brothers he never got into the bad habit of pinching me to get my attention or to get me to move a limb or a foot on the bed. He looked really funny when he ran somtimes, because for some reason he kept holding his tail in a curled partial loop when running, rather than carrying it in a straight line trailing behind. It wasn't broken and he could hold it straight with no problem, he just didn't. Unfortunately I have no photo showing that.

It turns out I don't even have many photos of any kind of him, because I haven't taken so many of my rats the last year than previously, and none from the last half year at all. So these are all photos of him as a young rat.

Here are a few pictures. )
ratcreature: sniffle (sniffle)
Silas 7.1.2012 - 9.10.2012


7.1.2012 - 9.10.2012

I just buried poor Silas. He was only nine months old, when he died suddenly yesterday. He lived with me since he was five weeks old. He wasn't the most affectionate rat, not that fond of cuddling, but still very friendly. And really surprisingly docile when it came to taking his antibiotics a few weeks ago. He was the first rat I ever had who didn't turn administering oral medicine into major drama.

Initially he was a bit shy, as all four in my current group were, but he and Rusty were the two to venture out first from the cage, and eventually he got over this reluctance. He was the smallest of my four, and had the habit to grab as much food as he could as soon as I filled their bowls and stash it in hidden cashes all over the cage. He also had the somewhat unpleasant habit to pinch me if he wanted attention. It wasn't proper biting, but not soft, affectionate nibbling either. My scolding didn't seem to have any impact on this habit. Maybe he liked me being startled, when he snuck up to me on the bed and pinched my arm, back or leg.

I hope he enjoyed the short time he had.

Here are some photos of Silas. )
ratcreature: sniffle (sniffle)
Leo 28.9.2009 - 15.12.2011


28.9.2009 - 15.12.2011

Leo was euthanized this morning. The antibiotic-resistant myco pneumonia he fought tenaciously for so many months finally worsened so much that he couldn't eat or breathe right anymore. The death of his brother Noah just over three weeks ago had not helped either, and maybe he just didn't have the strength anymore to hold on longer. But two years and almost three months is not a bad age for a rat. He was clingy this morning like last night, preferring to sit on my arm or huddle against my neck, even in the vet's waiting room with all the dogs, instead of staying in his transport box and be petted there. So I held him there and then until the end as he got the injection. He's now buried next to his brother.

Leo had lived with me since he was five weeks old, and he lived up to his name. He was the first of the three little ones I had gotten to venture out of hiding and to explore, the first one to dare to go on all levels of the cage and then outside, and as a young rat he was the one who always tried and succeeded to escape the room they were allowed in and to try to explore elsewhere. So several times I had to fish him out from under shelves in the not rat-safe room, covered in dust bunnies, because I had missed how he had managed to get across the doorway barrier again. He was bold, but never aggressive, and the liveliest of my last three. Even as he got older and was already sick with myco, he loved to climb everywhere and to run around and check all his favorite spots. He would jump on my bed in the evenings, though his patience to just cuddle was often limited. He was still a sweet rat, and liked to be petted and to groom you back if you scritched him. He had a strong will to live, and so he survived with the pneumonia far longer than I had dared to hope when the last antibiotics failed way back in April. Since then he got twice weekly injections for most of the time to help symptomatically, but he didn't let this keep him down.

here's some photos of Leo )
ratcreature: sniffle (sniffle)
Noah 28.9.2009 - 21.11.2011


28.9.2009 - 21.11.2011

Noah was euthanized this afternoon. I held him in my arms as he got the injection and petted and cuddled him to the end. Much of the weekend I offered him his favorite foods, because the extra tasty special treats were the only stuff he was still eating (he still lost another 13g from Friday to today though). So he got cooked egg, cream of wheat pudding, whipped cream, small pieces of chocolate with hazelnuts... and I tried to cuddle a bit with him too, but he was always anxious to get back into the cage and just wanted to hide in his favorite spots.

Noah had lived with me since he was five weeks old, and he was a great companion and sweet natured dumbo rat with a gorgeous and very soft Russian blue coat. He'd come if I called for him, of course especially for food, but also for belly scritches and getting petted. Whenever I came to the cage he'd come forward to greet me too.

here's some photos of Noah )
ratcreature: sniffle (sniffle)
Linus 18.9.2009 - 24.4.2011


18.9.2009 - 24.4.2011

Linus was euthanized this morning. I brought him in during emergency opening hours, merely expecting that the wound needed to be cleaned and closed again, but when the vet opened the wound under anesthesia it turned out Linus had mangled things by opening it and the licking, and the infection had spread into his belly and also into his penis. The vet said it was impossible to clean and remove completely because they couldn't remove the penis, and that merely antibiotics would have no chance, and that therefore he had no chance at all to survive this. So the vet had called me to the room, where they did the wound care, showed me the belly wound that was open then from cleaning and how bad it was, and asked me to have him put down right away, because the alternative was slow death from the lower belly infection.

So I agreed to that, even though it was a horrible shock, and I didn't even had time or opportunity to say goodbye to Linus while he was awake, because I had thought the anesthesia was just for wound care, so I hadn't cuddled with him or anything. Normally I know in advance when I bring in a rat to be euthanized, and I can say goodbye and cuddle with them at home before, and then I stay when they put them under and pet them so that they are not alone and afraid, but I didn't know. And when I came in he was already unconscious (and horrible looking too, with the open belly and some blood from the cleaning), and he didn't know that I was there when he died. He didn't deserve to die like this. I wish I had noticed the abscess earlier, maybe then it wouldn't have gotten so bad. I still can't believe that he's gone so suddenly, and so soon, that he isn't here anymore. He was only one and a half.

He was a great rat. He had such a nice character, which he showed even today, when he was scared and in pain. When the vet examined him, she held him up and pressed the wound, which of course hurt, but he did not snap at her, he merely started to lick her hand on the finger he could reach, trying to placate through grooming and being friendly, so that the vet commented on how affectionate he was. That was just the kind of rat he was, that he was trying to win over the vet by being extra nice.

He was a funny looking rat, with his tail too short, because the tip got injured when he was just a tiny pup before he even came to me, but since it had been shorter his whole mobile life, he wasn't bothered by it when climbing, balancing or jumping. He lived with me since he was six weeks old, and I knew he'd come to me and had seen photos even earlier. He's been with me every day since then, and has been as good a companion rat as you could wish for: friendly, playful, eager to come to me to be petted, and of course also to beg for food. He'd follow me around the room when I got up while he was outside, so that I had to be careful not to step on him. Until this week he had been very healthy too, and hadn't even needed any vet visits.

here's some photos of Linus )
ratcreature: sniffle (sniffle)
Emil 8.3.2007 - 11.9.2009


8.3.2007 - 11.9.2009

I had Emil put down this afternoon. The vet said that with this rapid a decline it was most likely a tumor inside, and that there was no sense to try antibiotics further in the bad condition he was in. And he had been suffering the last few days. (I even thought for a moment earlier today that he had died on his own because his body was so cold when I checked on him and he didn't react anymore, but after a moment I saw and heard that he was still breathing.)

Anyway, I cuddled with him for a while at home to say goodbye, hoping that even though he didn't seem very aware anymore he maybe still enjoyed being with me and lying on a warm body when his own wasn't even maintaining body temperature anymore, and then I brought him to vet to end his misery.

I hope I helped make the two and a half years he had a good life for him. He was only sick for a short time, barely two weeks, and he had never any health problems before, so he was luckier than many of my other rats. Though of course today it doesn't feel lucky.

some photos of Emil )

For the first time in years I am without rats. It feels very lonely.
ratcreature: sniffle (sniffle)
Ignatz 8.3.2007 - 16.7.2009


8.3.2007 - 16.7.2009

I had Ignatz put down this afternoon. I posted a lot about his sickness before, and there was nothing to be done. The spider venom didn't slow the cancer down, and at the end the bulge on his throat from the tumor and the wound bleeding had gotten so large that he could not even groom his face with his paws any longer or walk without struggle, and the myco didn't respond anymore to antibiotics and his breathing was getting very labored. I tried to give him as much time as possible, and he fought hard to hold on, but of course we all loose to death in the end.

Still, two years and a little over four months is not such a bad age for a rat, and I hope he enjoyed what time he had. I'm sorry that Emil will be alone for the end of his life though, but he's just far too old that I'd risk baby rats with him for very little time of potential company.

I'll remember Ignatz as a good rat and companion to me: good natured and affectionate, playful and sometimes cuddly, and never aggressive (not even to the vet).

some photos of Ignatz )
ratcreature: sniffle (sniffle)
Krümel 2.12.2006 - 18.12.2008


2.12.2006 - 18.12.2008

I had Krümel put down this afternoon. He was suffering, couldn't breathe anymore, and the meds weren't helping. I cuddled for nearly an hour with him early this afternoon, watching tv with him and petting him, just like I always used to do in the evenings. He kept having panic attacks though, when his breathing was getting too bad, but I wanted to have some time with him to say goodbye, and I hope it comforted him too.

Krümel was one of the most cuddly rats I've ever had, he was patient with being petted, and loved dozing next to me and sometimes on me and getting belly rubs, and he liked to keep me company. He'd come up on my bed to be petted and scritched. I think in part it was because he was alone with me for a while after Ben killed Krümel's brother Gonzo (in the awful socialization failure) before Emil and Ignatz joined him.

He was a great rat and I miss him.

some photos of Krümel )
ratcreature: sniffle (sniffle)
Ben 31.07.2005 - 14.09.2006


31.7.2005 - 14.9.2007

I finally brought Ben to the vet today to have him put down. It wasn't unexpected, his health has been getting worse for a while, but this week the decline became really drastic: He barely ate, drank only little and had trouble moving sometimes, slowly became more apathetic, and finally today he didn't even groom himself anymore. Actually when I looked in on him this morning his whole body felt cold so that for a moment I thought he must have died over night, but then he still moved after all. But I took that as the last sign that it was really time to say goodbye, and that it was better to put him down than to let him suffer a few more days.

He survived his brother Dustin by a little more than a year, and two years and a month isn't such bad age for a rat, though of course I wish he had become a methuselah among rats and lived longer. He was a great rat and a good companion, even though he caused me heartbreak when he killed little Gonzo in the disastrous integration attempt after Dustin's death.

Ben loved to cuddle with me and to groom me, especially as an older rat, when he liked to sleep on me or inside my clothing, and he developed very definite ideas what his food should be like over time. If it had been up to him he would have had scrambled eggs and cooked pasta and rice far more often than he did in any case. He was friendly and affectionate, and had a very soft and fine coat even as an adult which was great for petting. He had a beautiful silver color too that would change a bit with the seasons.

some photos of Ben )
ratcreature: sniffle (sniffle)
I'm just back from having the vet put Dustin down. He started to have episodes where he ran around agitatedly with his muzzle gaping open and closed, making even worse breathing noises, as if he was suffocating, even though most of the time he merely slept or sat with labored breathing. And the vet confirmed that this is a sign that he couldn't breathe anymore, and that it was better to put him down. According to the vet his chest was also distended and harder than normal, so it might not have been just mycoplasma, but could have also been a tumor in the lung. In any case. I wouldn't have wanted him to suffocate slowly, the brief episodes were already horrible and heartbreaking to watch. I would have loved to keep him just a little while longer, but there was nothing to be done anymore.

He was a great rat. He wasn't the most cuddly rat, but he was very friendly and clever. When he was still healthy he almost always won the scuffles with his brother despite having been smaller and lighter, because he could do this wicked kickbox thing with his hindleg that Ben couldn't properly counter, a clear show of technique over brawn. And he was funny to watch, especially when he was sometimes unintentionally hilarious. Like, he loved to masturbate perched on some precarious position, so he'd sit on some rope or branch and lick himself, only to sometimes become so intent on it that he forgot that he was perched somewhere, and so of course he fell down just when he was about to get off and would be all flustered.

Dustin 31.07.2005 - 8.09.2006


31.7.2005 - 8.9.2006

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