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Rat Care Corner / Re: Old Man Question
« Last post by BigBen on Today at 03:47:58 PM »
So sorry for the extra memories, but don't wait--Pyp wants some cake now! :yelcutelaugh: :occasion15:

(You can always give him more on your birthday!)
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You wrote a beautiful memorial for your boys. We will all miss your stories of their antics. I am so so sorry for your loss.
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What a lovely memorial :heart: So sorry for your losses :'(
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Sorry for your losses. -hugs-
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oh, Big Ben, I'm so sorry you're experiencing more losses   ((hugs))
As always, your memorial is touching and beautiful :'(.  Play hard at the bridge George and Andrew :heart:

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Rat Care Corner / Re: Old Man Question
« Last post by RooRat on Yesterday at 09:09:19 PM »
I can understand that. Part of me hopes he passes peacefully at home, but I doubt that'll happen. I'm keeping an eye on him and he's still pretty spunky, even if his back end doesn't always do what he wanted, so I think we have a bit. I guess we'll just take it day by day and I'll spoil him. I'm planning to make a bonding pouch tomorrow so I can more easily sit outside with him (and not worry that he'll fall out of my arms, as he's kind of prone to doing).  We sat outside for a bit with me in a vackwards hoodie and him in my hood and he seemed to enjoy the sniffs.

It's strange because it feels like I'm reliving losing Pete a few years ago. Pete very nearly made it to my birthday (I remember because I was going to give him some cake, since I was pretty sure he was close to the end and what would a little cake hurt at that point?) but he went downhill quickly and I ended up having to take him in early. Now that we're almost a week out from my birthday, I started thinking I'd like l give Pyp some cake, and then I started remembering Pete  :'( Extra sads happening at the moment, which translate to extra cuddles.
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It's been so hard to sit down and write this.  I said good-bye to my beautiful sweet boys George and Andrew two weeks ago.

Along with their brother and littermate, David, these were my West Side Highway boys.  I was so proud to be able to give some rats from that situation a home, having donated to the rescue effort but not being able to participate in the actual rescue more directly.  They came to me as eight-week-olds, from a foster home just across the river from me in Staatsburg, New York.

Back in 2015, Peter, James, and John were still in their prime, and the new kids looked so small compared to the "big boys."  I worried at first about putting them together, even though introductions seemed to go well, and when I took the plunge, sure enough, there was lots of squeaking and rustling in the cage.  But much to my surprise, when I went to rescue the baby who I thought was in trouble, lo and behold! it was one of the babies who had James pinned down, and it was the big boy who was squeaking for all he was worth!  ("Oh no, he's got me!  Help!  He's attacking me!")

The little guys were quick learners, and the big boys seemed to get a big kick out of playing along.  The big boys, for some reason, never really wrestled; they got a lot of enjoyment from pouncing on and power-grooming one another, and they also seemed to greatly enjoy involving the little boys in the game.  The loudest ruckus always seemed to involve one of the little guys pinning a big guy, so you just knew it all had to be in fun.  The babies quickly grew into big boys themselves, and then the cage would sometimes become quite noisy, often in the middle of the night.  The big boys passed away last fall, but the West Side Highway boys, though somewhat less rambunctious, continued the tradition of pinning and power-grooming until they became old men themselves.

It was impossible to tell which of the three boys was which, since they were identical PEW's.  I tried marking them with food coloring, but they groomed it off.  I had their ears tattooed, but the ink quickly faded.  Before it faded altogether, I had the vet notch their ears:  George on the right, Andrew on the left, and David un-notched.  The vet used the same anesthetic for the notching as we had used for the tattooing, and they never noticed a thing.  After that, it was much easier to tell who was who, and I was intrigued to find that my personality assessments had been consistent all along.  Nevertheless, I felt better having a way of being sure who was who when it came time for meds, weighings, and vet visits.

George was always the alpha of the trio; he was the feisty one, less willing to be picked up but a good shoulder-rider.  Andrew was the eagerest explorer and the most affectionate towards me.  David was always shyer and quieter, less willing to come out and play and then less willing to explore once he was out of the cage.  The three always got along well with the older boys.  Peter was mostly focused on me, but James and John took a kindly interest in the younger boys and could often be found cuddling with one or the other of them.  Intriguingly, once the older boys were gone the West Side trio often cuddled as a pair with the third boy by himself elsewhere in the cage.  The pairings continually shifted around, and the odd one out always seemed quite content by himself.  During out time, Andrew would go exploring, while George and David cuddled in the tissue box.  Then Andrew would climb into the tissue box for a while, and George would go off by himself.  Then Andrew would come looking for me and want some attention.  If George came out by himself, he would tolerate a certain amount of attention and then go back under the covers or behind a pillow.  But when George came looking for Andrew, that was the signal that they wanted to go back to the cage.  I was never sure if it meant they were tired of playtime or whether they just wanted to go back so they could get a treat.  George was wild about treats and would grab them with gusto; Andrew was a tad more gentlemanly, but equally enthusiastic.  (David, by contrast, was more particular about what he would go for, but the other two always made room for him when he showed up for his share.)

When David passed away (from what I suspect was a pituitary tumor--in any case, it was some kind of neurological problem), George seemed to really miss him, and I wasn't surprised to find one morning that he had lost his appetite.  I pointed him three times at the baby food treat, which he refused to touch, and each time he got more annoyed with me.  Later in the morning, I noticed that he was in respiratory distress and took him to be put to sleep.  Funnily enough, I wondered if Andrew should be put down too, but he seemed so well that I thought better of the idea.  He seemed perfectly fine the next morning, Saturday, when I went off to play for the Mother's Day tea at church, but when I got home at six p.m., he was in respiratory distress, too.  I guess he just missed his brothers too much to want to keep going.  It was far too late to take him to the regular vet, but there was a very compassionate veterinarian at the emergency clinic who helped him to the Bridge.

This double blow has really knocked me off my feet.  I miss my sweet West Side Highway boys. :love9:
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Rat Care Corner / Re: Rat Size
« Last post by BigBen on Yesterday at 08:07:03 PM »
I had one rat, my beautiful sweet Raphael, who was a two-hander, weighing nearly a kilo.  His brother and littermate, my beautiful sweet Uriel, was more normal-sized at somewhere in the range of 550 to 640 grams, as I recall.  There is sexual dimorphism in Rattus norvegicus, but the size ranges overlap, just as they do in Homo sapiens.  In general, bucks are noticeably larger than does, but I wouldn't say that they are normally twice the size, more like 125% to 150%.  But if the girls you are used to were on the small side, and your new boys are on the large side, the contrast could very well be more noticeable than usual.

You may be interested to know that among chinchillas (in Chinchilla lanigera, at least), the dimorphism works the other way:  the females being quite a bit larger than the males.


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Rat Care Corner / Re: Old Man Question
« Last post by BigBen on Yesterday at 07:57:03 PM »
Slightly morbid question here, but... About how long after symptoms start will a rat with PT live comfortably? I know it varies case by case, but is there an average?
. . . .

I don't think there is one.  For one thing, who knows how long the tumor has been there?  Also, some grow faster than others.

My beautiful sweet Anne, my first case of PT, lived quite a while, but that was because of my slowness in recognizing the progression of the disease.  I should have put her to sleep long before I actually did.  Her daughter, my beautiful sweet Elizabeth, lived quite comfortably for what felt like quite a long time on bromocriptine, until one Sunday night, she absolutely refused the medication.  She gradually lost interest in food after that, until three nights later when I went to pick her up for a cuddle, she died in my hand (I believe she waited for me to come fetch her).  That was the most peaceful PT death I've experienced.  Usually something goes visibly wrong and I end up rushing to the vet (either regular or emergency).  I am trying to get better at recognizing the signs a bit sooner, so as to avoid those final minutes of suffering, but my persistent desire to postpone saying goodbye tends to interfere with my judgement.
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Rat Care Corner / Re: Old Man Question
« Last post by RooRat on Yesterday at 07:48:47 AM »
Slightly morbid question here, but... About how long after symptoms start will a rat with PT live comfortably? I know it varies case by case, but is there an average?

I'm planning to take him in for a visit to get some trial Lasix to see if his breathing is just his breathing or if it's related to CHF. If he has CHF too, well... 

I wonder what the instances of CHF occurring alongside PT are ??? His appetite is nuts, which isn't indicative of CHF (those symptoms say little to no appetite), though it could be Cushing's caused by PT, I suppose - every time I put my hand in his cage, he grabs it and checks for food (think Meeko in the Pocahontas movie - he literally grabs my hand and checks on top and underneath for food offerings :yelcutelaugh:), gives me a couple licks, then a couple taste-nibbles (these are becoming a little more painful than they used to be :o). A couple nights ago he grabbed so many baby puffs out of my hand that he got one stuck in his mouth - I was getting ready to grab my tweezers when he finally got it loose. He's always been really into food, but it's gotten much more frantic and intense lately, like he simply can't get enough.

He sat with his head in the corner of his cage for a little while yesterday, bruxxing anxiously.  :-\

He's getting lots of snuggle time, which he enjoys. I got him to boggle yesterday, which he's only done on rare occasions in the two years I've had him. He almost fell asleep next to me, which he has never done, and as soon as he realized what was happening he was up and tottering off :yelcutelaugh:
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