ratcreature: RatCreature's toon avatar (Default)
video behind the cut )

Really impressive. Watching them makes me miss having rats (though I never succeeded in making mine do much of anything — not patient enough I guess).
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: RatCreature is dejected: sigh (sigh)
Poor Kieran has started to have trouble with his balance and with walking because of the growing tumor in his ear. He can't manage the stairs in his cage anymore, so he just uses the lowest one of the six levels, and all his favorite places, like the hammocks, are now inaccessible to him.

The vet already talked about the euthanasia option on Tuesday, but Kieran still eats (though less, even though I try to entice him with tasty, cooked food, like scrambled eggs and mashed potatoes), and he still wants to come outside the cage, though he's now more falling/stumbling outside than properly climbing the ramp. So he still takes interest in things, even though he has trouble getting around sometimes. He also has trouble with grooming, because now when he tries to reach his back or his lower belly and his genitals he falls over (so now the poor guy can't masturbate anymore either, which has to suck). But since I wash his feet with lukewarm chamomile tea before putting the salve for the bumblefoot sores on twice a day anyway (chamomile is good as a mild antiseptic so that's better to keep the sores clean than just water), it's not that much more effort to check and wipe his private parts down as needed too.

Still, it's clear that the deterioration is not nearly as slow as I had hoped. :(
ratcreature: hiding under my blanket (hiding under my blanket)
It turns out that the problem with Kieran's left ear is actually a tumor growing there. There is also an infection that produces the gunk I've seen, but it's a secondary problem to the tumor growing in his head in the ear canal. :(

The vet gave me an antibiotic and eardrops to hopefully help with the infection part and improve his symptoms, but of course that won't help with the tumor. I've also been given medication to counteract the digestive problems with antibiotics, because last time when he got some for his bumblefoot sores he got bad diarrhea fairly quickly. And of course for these sores I still wash his feet twice a day and apply two different salves. So five meds in all to apply and give him every day. Elderly rats have health like elderly people with almost as many meds. And none of this will even get to his worst problem.

I guess there is only hoping that it will be a slow growing tumor, and he'll still have some time feeling okay. Not the news I wanted to get after yesterday. :(


Aug. 19th, 2013 23:28
ratcreature: oh no! (oh no!)
And yeah, Kieran's head shaking I mentioned in the last post is definitely an ear infection. I just looked closely into his ears, and there is redness and a little gunk a bit further into his left one. Now that I think of it, the head shaking may have happened even before the weekend just less extreme, and I didn't notice as much because Rusty was so much worse comparatively, and I've mostly paid attention to Kieran's feet issues with the ongoing bumblefoot and salve application. Now I feel guilty about that.

I always try to do the best I can to really pay attention, and yet I still miss stuff, especially when it's the first time I encounter something. (I've never had a rat develop ear problems before.) Why do I suck at this stuff? Well, I'll bring him to the vet tomorrow and hope these germs aren't as antibiotics resistant as typical rat lung infections. :(
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. )


Aug. 18th, 2013 11:08
ratcreature: RatCreature is dejected: sigh (sigh)
My rat Rusty is in a really bad way. I'm not sure what happened. I mean, he has the usual myco lung problems, but last week saw the end of an antibiotics course that had pushed the infection back, so his breathing was fine.

Only then Friday I noticed that he wasn't eating right, and when I weighed him I noticed that he lost almost 20g (!) from when I weighed him last during the antibiotics. I monitored for weight loss because he had problems while on antibiotics before and he got supporting meds with good bacteria this time.

But yesterday evening he still went outside during playtime and walked around a little, even if he seemed a bit wobbly. And then early this morning he ate some cantaloupe, so I didn't think it was necessary to go to the emergency vet hour this morning, and that it could wait for tomorrow. Only now a two hours later he looks more dead than alive, mostly unresponsive, and I think he's probably going to die. If he makes it to tomorrow, I'm going to bring him to the vet, but I'm not sure they can do anything to help him anyway. I mean, the therapeutic options for rats are not that vast. They have injections that can give a short energy boost, that they give to help a rat until antibiotics kick in, if it is in a bad way with an infection, but I'm not sure that would help here. Rusty isn't even that old, only a year and eight months. :(

This group of brothers has been having really bad luck. Even worse than the usual guaranteed heartbreak with rats. Why can't rats have the lifespan of turtles or parrots? :(
ratcreature: RatCreature's toon avatar (Default)
...but I think my rat Kieran is self-medicating his diarrhea with saw dust. I mean, I've just seen him systematically eat the absorbent wood pulp pellets from their rodent toilets. Normally he may gnaw a little on them (rats gnaw on everything), but he doesn't eat them like this. Unfortunately he liked wood pulp pellets better than mashed potato with medicine, which says more about his dislike for the meds than his enthusiasm for wood pulp though.

I did give him the morning dose, because he didn't seem to have worsened over night, though I am now waiting for the vet office to call me back. (When I called forty-five minutes ago the vet couldn't come to the phone and the assistant didn't want to give medical advice, but I really hope they'll call back soon. If I had this much room in my schedule today, I'd just have dropped by their office with Kieran. I mean, I realize this is extra service and Monday mornings are busy but still. These are the rare moments I regret not having a cell phone. ETA: Finally got the call and the advice from the vet was to stop the antibiotic early instead of giving the last doses, and I'm going to bring him in tomorrow afternoon.)


Apr. 21st, 2013 22:54
ratcreature: Eeew! (eeew)
Poor Kieran now has developed diarrhea in reaction to the antibiotic. At least I hope it's Kieran, and not Rusty getting sick for mysterious reasons -- I have not actually watched either rat expel the liquid and semi-liquid poo that was smeared all over the cage. I looked whether either rat's behind was grossly soiled to be sure, but *they* were both clean. So I spent a good while this evening cleaning up the mess.

I think tomorrow I'll switch to mixing the antibiotic in mashed potatoes, both in case it's the significant amount of pudding exacerbating the digestive problems (it's not anything I have given before and too much fruit and also wet food is sometimes a problem, but the stuff has to get inside the rat somehow) and because he's even less thrilled with the pudding now than at the beginning. Maybe he's getting suspicious as to the causes for his digestive problems -- I mean, you don't think that rats would connect dots like that, after all it took a while to set in, but who knows. At least he wasn't lethargic or anything like that (I once had a rat really deteriorate on an antibiotic) and I have seen him drink a good amount, so I'm not that worried about him. Though if the mess continues to be this bad overnight I'll probably give my vet a call whether I should continue it, even if he doesn't seem worse in a way that I'd bring him in to the vet.
ratcreature: Woe! RatCreature feels emo. (woe!)
For Kieran's evening dose I tried soy chocolate pudding (which I specifically bought this afternoon as non-dairy thing to mix the meds in), figuring it might mask the sickly sweet taste better than mashed potatoes. Unlike for some other pets such as dogs and cats, chocolate is not toxic to rats, their theobromine metabolism is similar to humans so relative to their weight they can eat about as much chocolate as a human to theirs. And my current ones like the taste of chocolate (not every rat does -- I've had some that just didn't eat it as a treat), though of course normally I don't feed it them, not even as a treat. Their usual treats are things like small plain rice waffle pieces or organic spelt cheerios. Anyway, when I tried offering the unadultered food as a tease to see whether it might be popular (just a mouthful, obviously you don't want a full, choosy rat if you mix in substances -- I always give stuff before refilling the food bowl too) it was A+++: both shoved and scrambled to get a lick in and tried to pull the spoon with the bit of pudding out of my hand.

So I was really hopeful.

Then I mixed a teaspoon with his meds and offered it to Kieran alone. The pudding slipped down dramatically on the popularity scale. Initially he seemed hopeful, but a few initially greedy licks in he noticed and stopped. I had locked him in with the little dish in the transport box again, to prevent Rusty from getting at it, but he soon abandoned the pudding, and focused his attention on probing the transport box. I then took him out, because this was heading in the direction of him just stepping into the food during the escape attempts and smearing it all over eventually, and tried prompting him to eat the stuff directly on my lap.

So I shoved the dish under his nose, he licked at it a little, as if hoping that it might have gone back to just chocolate pudding, noticed that nope, not what he hoped, and then stopped again. Then when I prompted again, he licked again, but much less enthusiastically, and once again stopped. Unfortunately even a small teaspoon takes quite a lot of rat licks to be eaten, which ordinarily you don't notice, because with appealing food they can lick very fast. At this point he was clearly frustrated that I was keeping him on my lap, but at least it was more of a peaceful, evasive resistance, not violent struggle.

Eventually I managed to get him to to mostly lick the dish clear (over 95%) so eventually the evening dose got into him. But honestly it's just wrong having to press a rat so much to eat a small amount of chocolate pudding. And I'll have to do this another twelve times minimum, and this is the optimistic scenario that he won't become completely obstinate. OTOH maybe he'll eventually get used to the taste once he realizes that I'm not trying to slip him rat poison.
ratcreature: FAIL! (fail!)
Unfortunately Kieran's bumblefoot sores have been getting worse again, despite me putting on the wound salve twice a day. So today it was back to the vet with him. Also a checkup for Rusty's sores, which are still healing, or at least not getting worse. So the vet put Kieran on the antibiotic that had some positive effect on Rusty's feet and infected lymph node when those were worse.

And I didn't think it would be that bad, because that antibiotic is flavored for animals to take, sickly sweet with some fake vanilla notes, and Rusty actually licked that stuff from the syringe with only a little prompting. But Kieran took one taste, was disgusted and completely non-compliant. Getting it into his mouth by force was totally impossible. He wriggled, kicked, squeaked, scratched at me while struggling, forcefully turned his head away from the syringe, and was close to snapping at me in the end. So that was a total failure. I'm not that surprised, because he already dislikes the less invasive wound salve application. Even if I had gotten the syringe into his mouth, the dose is 1.2ml for his weight, and that is more than a rat mouth holds, so unlike with the ~0.2ml Baytril doses I wouldn't be able to squeeze it in quickly in a fast motion.

I finally mixed the antibiotic in a little teaspoon of yogurt then, and he tried eating it then, but turned away suspiciously after just a nibble. The suspicious little bastard makes his ancestors that evaded poison attempts proud. It took me adding copious amounts of sugar and locking him up with it for a while in their transport box to get him to eat all of it. (Though of course part of the reason for the box was so that Rusty wouldn't be able to get at it -- I suspect he'd have rather liked it.) And I have to do this twice a day for at least a week. Argh.

Then belatedly I remembered that because I thought he'd take it without too much fuss, I hadn't asked whether this is one of the antibiotics that you shouldn't mix with dairy for it to work best (like Baytril is), so I will have to phone the vet office this afternoon to ask about that. I hope not because cream and yogurt are fairly good for mixing. ETA: Unfortunately a call to the vet told me that this one is also among those best not to mix with dairy. :/ So I'll have to try mixing it in other things. Sigh.

Medicating pets sucks.
ratcreature: RatCreature is enthusiastic: Yay! (yay!)
The vet said that Rusty's wound looks well, and that as it looks now he won't need an OP after all, so whatever gnawing he did yesterday didn't do too much damage despite the copious bleeding. And the second antibiotic did its job against the infection, so now I don't need to give him oral meds.

As an experiment the vet actually tried to tape a little bandage around his leg to see whether that might stop him from worrying the wound as it heals (and presumably itches), though we were both a bit dubious about the chances for this working. She said if it stays on for a while it might help, if he pulls it off, I should just go back to putting salve on the wound as before. The next check is on Friday. I'm really relieved that he didn't need the operation to clean up the wound, and just hope it will now just heal, and maybe his feet finally as well. *crosses fingers*
ratcreature: Woe! RatCreature feels emo. (woe!)
Rusty's bumblefoot sores haven't been healing well, instead infection spread to a lymph node in his right leg which became swollen. So he was put on antibiotics on top of the wound salve stuff, but the first one didn't work. Then he was put on the second one (unfortunately that has to be given twice a day instead of just once) last Tuesday, but Wednesday night the infected lymph node broke open and he bled like crazy over night. Thursday morning there were large blood stains all over his sleeping places (soaked up into all the soft cloth and paper towels I now have in the cage to help with these pressure sores). I phoned my vet, whether I need to come in for the wound, but was told I could just go on with the antibiotic and salve, and gently cleaning the now open wound, as long as it stopped bleeding, which it had seemed to do, and wait for the next scheduled appointment the coming Tuesday.

And Rusty seemed okay, considering, but late yesterday morning he must have disturbed the wound again, because he was bleeding a lot again, even though it had looked okay the early morning. So I brought him to the vet yesterday afternoon after all, just to be on the safe side. She thoroughly cleaned the wound of all the crusty blood and such (he hated that, I think the disinfectant hurt a bit), and said that it didn't look too bad (like, it's not badly infected with pus or putrid or any of the truly gross things you can see with wounds gone bad), and that while the amount of blood loss obviously wasn't good, it was not dangerous (I had brought a pile of bloody paper towels to show the amount instead of just trying to describe blood stain diameters). However now that it was open it could be seen that there was quite a bit of granulation tissue that had formed inside, and that it might be necessary to operate and remove the extraneous bits for the wound to heal properly.

So now I'm still supposed to come in Tuesday when the second antibiotic had a week, and then Rusty will probably be operated on to remove that tissue. She said there was a chance that it might not be necessary if the wound starts to close and heal properly until then (rather than just dried blood crusting it up for a while), but she didn't seem to think that likely with the way that plug of granulation tissue was in the wound.

I still kind of hope that maybe he won't need the operation, because of course anesthesia is always a risk, especially with little animals, and he has been loosing weight with the ongoing infection in his feet and earlier the myco, and all the antibiotics he's had to take, and now he's been bleeding from that wound on top of everything. So an operation would be a lot of extra stress on his already taxed system. And of course operations make wounds larger, if cleaner, and afterwards he still might bother it, and impede the healing of the clean one. And of course he still has the bumblefoot sores that started all this too.

Poor 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: RatCreature is so screwed... (screwed)
The good news is that there is still no wound infection as far as I can see and no further pulled staples, so it looks like there won't be any emergency weekend visits needed after all. The bad news is that he still seems to feel really crappy. Basically the whole day yesterday he just huddled in his sleeping space and he didn't eat his regular food, and I haven't seen him drinking either, however he did eat the quarter of a boiled egg I offered him, a fairly big piece of rice waffle, and ate the cucumber I offered for something watery when I didn't see him drink. He peed a fair amount too judging by all the wet bedding I removed yesterday and this morning (and going by the stains it's the normal light colored pee too -- I bet you are just thrilled be updated on my rat pee monitoring, heh), so I'm not that worried about dehydration yet. Still, he could be better. Sigh.
ratcreature: RatCreature is conflicted, and ponders under the influence of hovering angel- and devil-RatCreatures. (conflicted)
So the good news is that Oskar did not pull any further staples over night, so the wound doesn't gape open further than on the maybe five millimeters it was yesterday evening, and there is no pus either, but now I'm left wondering whether that is enough of a wound disturbance that it qualifies for an emergency situation that is supposed to make me come back in before Monday.

The vet was very clear that I ought to come if there was any visible infection at all, but the instruction about the level of wound disturbance were less clear cut. Aargh. Well, maybe I'll phone ahead and ask. Since today they are open two hours, I could phone at the start of the opening hours and still be there within the second hour, if they do say that I ought to come in. *dithers*

ETA: It seems they don't cover the phone during the emergency opening hours. I decided to not bring him in today. To redo that bit of the stitches they'd have to anesthetize him again, and create fresh wound boundaries again (same as the problem yesterday, when they had to make the wound larger and fresh for healing with stitches to work), and I doubt they'd do that for this small opening in the wound, when it is still mostly closed. And Oskar doesn't seem to have disturbed the wound worse over night or now aside from that initial staple he loosened, and there is no sign of infection so far.
ratcreature: RatCreature is so screwed... (screwed)
So, I decided to bring Oskar to the vet, and a good thing it was too, because apparently the wound didn't just slice the skin open, but nicked the muscle layer underneath, so it needed stitches in two layers. And to fix the damage underneath the vet had to open the skin a bit further, so now poor Oskar has a gash that's twice as long on his belly, closed with a row of scary, Frankensteinian-looking staples, and some stitches underneath. Also it's covered in silver, to hopefully prevent infection. And of course he got an antibiotic shot and pain medication, and I got some of both to give him orally. I'm supposed to come back Monday, but watch him closely for infection and come in during their emergency weekend hours if I see any pus. Of course pets always have to do this before weekends, because otherwise the inconvenience and stress would be slightly less inconvenient and stressful. Argh.

Also I was instructed to keep him separate from the others for a while so they couldn't mess with the wound, and for now just have to hope that he doesn't do damage to himself. The vet said that if he gnaws on it himself and tries to pull the staples, they could try a small collar, but they don't work very well on rats (I presume because they don't have much of a neck, and are good at squeezing out of things.)

At least I could just put a divider between the modules of my cage, so keeping them separate is logistically easy, though both Rusty and Kieran were annoyed with me when I just evicted them from the favored spot in the top module. And Oskar was quite befuddled that he couldn't take the usual way down.

Cross your fingers for Oskar, so that he won't gnaw on his wound and that there won't be an infection?

And of course I'm now €82,77 poorer again for the exam, stitching, anesthesia, and meds, and who knows what all the follow up from this one will come to in the end.
ratcreature: oh no! (oh no!)
Kieran is a vicious, little savage. He just scuffled with Oskar in their cage (brief but intense), and when I checked Oskar over after he had fled, I noticed that Kieran nearly gored him. Okay, that's overstating it slightly, but he has a long (almost 2 cm I'd guess) wound on his belly. Thankfully it seems shallow, but still! I put a little of the antibiotic wound salve on it, that I still have for Kieran's and Rusty's bleeding bumblefoot sores, in the hope that it'll help and prevent infection. I still remember Linus who died from a lower belly abscess spreading.

I'm pondering whether I ought to bring Oskar to the vet tomorrow. On the one hand, they probably wouldn't put in stitches or anything (because it's in a place where he can pull them out), otoh they could check the wound and give an antibiotic. Maybe I should decide on how the wound looks tomorrow and how Oskar himself seems, or phone them and ask whether they think I should come in. *waffle* And just when I thought I had a reprieve from frequent vet visits until the next foot check up in two and a half weeks. I mean, Oskar only was at the vet two days ago for the check up on his skin. (That went well, the nail clipping and injection a week earlier had stopped the scratching enough that all that healed, and he didn't need the blood test.) One thing after another.

Maybe I should consider plastic goldfish for my next pets. Decorative yet no drama.
ratcreature: RatCreature's toon avatar (Default)
The vet was pleased with how Rusty's and Kieran's bumblefoot sores are healing, so I'm now down to putting salve on once a day instead of twice. Rusty's lungs sounded good too, so I can stop giving the decongestant, even though I still hear him make quiet sounds every now and then. So the myco pneumonia seems pushed back for now.

The vet wasn't too worried about Rusty's weight loss, even though he was 550g when they weighed him compared to the 610g a few weeks ago. She said it might just be due to the antibiotics and other meds, and I should just monitor it and watch that he can eat undisturbed (Kieran the glutton sometimes snatches Rusty's food), and bring him back in four weeks for another check. To me it seemed there was something of a bias, that because he weighed a bit too much earlier and thus isn't underweight now, the change wasn't taken as seriously, but otoh I suppose there's not that much you can do about it anyway. (You could perhaps search for tumors or whatever inside, I guess, but you need to anesthetize rats for x-rays to get them to hold still, and that's rather OTT with its own risks unless you are seriously concerned about something.)

She couldn't find any parasites when she took a sample from Oskar's skin with some sticky tape, but did notice just like I did that his skin is very dry and flaky, and of course all the spots where he scratched. She gave him a shot to help with the itching, and blunted the nails on his back feet, to see whether this symptomatic approach would break the cycle of itching leading to scratch wounds that then itch worse, but I'm to bring him back next week for a follow up. If it isn't better then she's going to do a blood test for metabolic illnesses. I actually never had a blood test done on a rat. I wonder how they even get enough of a sample. I mean, their veins must be quite small, no?

Or maybe the winter air is just getting to Oskar, like it happens to some humans with sensitive skin. I did have to trudge through snow coming down to get to the vet too. And then ended up over fifty euro poorer. Sigh.
ratcreature: RatCreature's toon avatar (Default)
The good news is that Rusty's feet seem to slowly heal, at least the bumblefoot sores look better with my now meticulous attention to keeping their bedding dry, soft and changed twice a day in all of their many sleeping spots and putting on antibiotic ointment twice a day as well, though Kieran's haven't really improved as much. Also the myco sounds seem to have stopped almost completely (occasionally I think I may still hear him make some quiet sounds but it's not the clear myco lung noises anymore), so the continued decongestant may have done some good after the oral antibiotic to make its improvement stick.

The bad news is that Rusty lost a noticeable amount of weight. He was 610g when the vet weighed him before the antibiotic, and though he doesn't really cooperate with sitting still on my scale, when he felt significantly lighter to me, I tried to weigh him and it's was definitely more mid-five hundred something now. So that's quite worrying. :(

There doesn't seem to be anything wrong with his appetite and he's been off the oral antibiotic for a while now, and didn't have digestive problems on it, so I'm not sure whether side effects from that could still account for this. Well, the scheduled follow up vet appointment is Tuesday, so I'll definitely have to mention this then.
ratcreature: oh no! (oh no!)
Like how he somehow managed to grind a sharp sunflower seed shell fairly deep into the bumblefoot wound on one of his feet, so that I had to pull off/out the shell with a good bit of the scab, just so there wouldn't be foreign objects festering in his foot on top of everything else. Of course that hurt, and he was not at all pleased or cooperating with me. It's a wonder he didn't manage to wrench his foot with his flailing. It's not that easy to inspect your rat's feet to begin with, unless you have a second person holding it up, much less remove something splinter-like with the rat trying to simultaneously pull the foot away and escape. Also I ended up with small rat blood stains all over my pajama.
ratcreature: RatCreature is dejected: sigh (sigh)
Having a rat on three oral meds plus a wound salve application twice a day gets old real fast. I decided to give the painkiller and the antibiotic in the morning (I asked the vet that it's okay to mix them) and the decongestant in the evening. Perhaps I could mix that in as well, and have only one application, but the more fluid I give orally, the bigger the likelihood that it just goes out of the mouth again, and the decongestant has a sort of fuzzy "mix with water" dosage, that the vet said I could give in the drinking water too, but I offer multiple bottles and the others would drink it, so it's better to give it directly as well.

The salve application is not that bad, though unfortunately the salve doesn't seem to taste bad, so it gets licked off, and not just by the rat its on. Why couldn't they make the oral antibiotics tasty rather than the topical?

Also I removed damp (i.e. peed on) bedding twice today, to make really sure that they won't sleep in their wet spots, in the hope that this will help with the bumblefoot sores. (Why rats insist on peeing in their sleeping spaces when their skin is too delicate to take the aggravation of the wet bedding is a mystery, though.) I also put in some more washable floor cloths, so they have more even softer surfaces than newspaper.


Dec. 28th, 2012 14:19
ratcreature: oh no! (oh no!)
I brought Rusty to the vet today because I noticed he's starting to make the myco breathing sounds. And once I was there I noticed that he had actually developed bumblefoot sores on both his backfeet, that I completely failed to notice. I had never had a rat develop these before, and didn't remember to check their feet closely. Clearly a mistake. Oscar's feet are fine, but Kieran's have backfeet have raised bumps too, one very slight, but the other a bit larger, theough thankfully no open sore, though the larger looks like it might be heading there.

I don't have wire cage floors, just solid metal sheets covered with several layers of newspaper, so I'm not exactly sure what caused this. They are a bit on the heavy side, which is also supposed to be a risk factor, because it puts more pressure on the feet, but not more so than my previous rats. Though I'm going to change their bedding more often now. I usually do that every two or three days, but because they pee in their favorite house all the time, sometimes the bedding there is still wet. And I read that wet bedding can cause bumblefoot too. So I'm going to change it once or even twice a day to make sure they are on dry bedding at all times. I also changed their favorite cloth-tube for a new one, because they had chewed through in places and also it was sagging by now so that it bumped against the willow basket below, so maybe that made for an irritant.

I have oral antibiotics (for both the lungs and the feet), a painkiller and an antibiotic wound salve for Rusty, plus a decongestant, and I'm going to use the salve on Kieran's more irritated red bump too, hoping that his won't develop into open sores. I feel horrible that I didn't even notice this going on, and that somehow the conditions in their cage made this develop in the first place. I heard that once they developed these sores only heal with much difficulty too. :(
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)
I just found my rat Silas dead in their cage. I had noticed that he hadn't come outside this evening, but hadn't thought anything about it, because he doesn't always come outside. Then when I locked them up, I could only count three, and no Silas when I called for the count, so I searched the cage, and at first I didn't find him, so I searched the room again, and still no fourth rat. Finally I looked more closely in the cage again, and there Silas was, lying dead under some stairs. To think that I didn't even notice for maybe hours that he had died. I don't even recall whether I'd seen him this morning. I mean, I think so, but didn't pay that close attention. I feel like a horrible person.

He hadn't even been sick, aside from his sneezing having come back a little even after the antibiotics, and now he's suddenly dead. No visible injuries either. He wasn't even a year old. I still can't quite believe it. It hasn't sunk in yet that Silas is dead. I hope it was a heart attack or something, and not anything contagious I never heard of that makes rats drop dead so quickly. I know certain types of acute pneumonia can kill rats suddenly, but I think even the fast ones show some symptoms. I mean, my other three seem fine, but it is very disconcerting. That's the first time I had a rat die at less than a year without an obvious reason.
ratcreature: RatCreature is shocked. (o.O!)
So far Silas has been super cooperative when taking his meds. *knocks on wood* Even though today was the fourth time at home, and by now he has to know what is coming and that Baytril tastes horribly bitter, he still lets himself be held on my lap *and* lets me shove the syringe in his mouth without struggle. He doesn't even try to spit the antibiotic out or wipe it off afterwards. I keep checking that I didn't accidentally miss his mouth, I'm so astonished.

I mean, I've made sure to praise him and give him something sweet, like a piece of banana, afterwards, but I've never had it happen that any rat who wasn't half-dead didn't at least try to get away or shove the syringe away with its paws.

oh no

Sep. 6th, 2012 23:39
ratcreature: oh no! (oh no!)
I just found Silas suddenly sitting somewhere (he seemed fine earlier), with some sort of slimy, slightly foamy stuff coming out of his mouth. And he isn't even grooming it away. I've never seen anything like that with a rat (they don't vomit or anything). He seemed fine earlier, not even an hour ago when I filled their bowls with food and gave them some treats. And then suddenly he's like this! I hope he'll be okay until I can get him to the vet tomorrow morning, and that whatever is afflicting him is not contagious, or that the food is somehow contaminated with something and they are all going to die (I have given them from this box the last few days already though). Sick rats are bad enough, but a rat sick with something you've never seen before and can't gauge is ten times worse. Please cross your fingers for the poor guy. He's not even a year old. And why do these things always happen in the middle of the night?
ratcreature: RL? What RL? RatCreature is a net addict.  (what rl?)
I haven't been online as much as usual (hence the total lack of public fannish posts and the like around here recently), but I had set up my [tumblr.com profile] jamesmcavoywithsloths Tumblr with a queue to post a picture once a day automatically even when I'm not around, only the last few days that feature seems to be broken? I've seen some official post mentioning problems over the weekend, but my queue didn't post today either. Is this still non-functional for other people too? *kicks Tumblr*

Unrelated, I find it a little worrisome that I didn't smell that one of my rats had peed on my bed right next to me just now, but only noticed it due to the wetness. Granted, the spot was small, but now I worry that I might not notice either if I myself smelled of rat pee, because I've become habituated to small amounts of it. (Though I definitely smell if I forget to change their wet bedding in the cage every other day, so I'm not completely desensitized but still.) Like the people in the hoarding reality tv shows who don't smell their house is filled with cat poop or such. Though any potential problem is probably mitigated by my habit to change from regular clothes to rattier (pun intended) indoor clothes most of the time before I interact with them, to not have holes chewed into everything I wear. I mean, their social grooming efforts are probably well meant, but this just doesn't work on fabric as it does on fur.


Apr. 21st, 2012 23:49
ratcreature: grumpy (grumpy)
My four rats are now in their rowdy adolescence/early adulthood, and scuffle quite a bit. It's not that they injure each other seriously *knocks on wood*, but now I have squeaking balls of squabbling rats roll around, that box and kick and claw at each other, and for some reason they really like to do that on my bed. Perhaps because it is soft. Unfortunately I am also often on said bed while they do this, and they aren't considerate of me while they fight and move around in this space I already occupy. So I end up with scratches.

Just now Rusty practically gouged my right arm (bleeding scratches!) as he ran and scrabbled across me. I think they don't realize that non-furred animals don't take to claw contact quite as easily. I try to startle them out of the fights and relocate them to the floor, but it has little educational effect so far. They still think my bed is a great place to settle their differences.
ratcreature: RatCreature is enthusiastic: Yay! (yay!)
For the first time some of my rats (now almost properly rat sized, if not quite fully grown) just voluntarily ran down the ramp out of the cage. Granted, I first had to put them outside and they ran back (as I've done about once an evening in addition to leaving the cage open for a few hours), but then Rusty and Silas at least have come out again, and are right now have a good time exploring. So I hope that is a breakthrough, and they'll finally decide that the outside is not scary after all.

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