petting

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A proper farewell

Published May 2, 2013 by Kokomo

It seems like ages ago already, but it has been 3,5 weeks now, since I had to let go of my sweet Valo.

On Sunday, after I posted, the attacks got worse, with, late that evening the worst bloody nose ever. The poor thing was covered in blood, her snout, her face, her belly, her paws, everything was bloody and the poor thing cleaned it all up after the attack had passed. I felt so bad for the poor thing, I gave her some painkillers and left her in the Duna, and put Maarit with her so she wouldn’t be alone. I knew that there was very little left to be done for her, but I didn’t want to go to the emergency animal hospital again, as they are extremely expensive and really not that able with rats. So, I managed to contact a co-worker to ask her to work for me the next day and tried to get some sleep with the ladies right next to my pillow.

They had a quiet and peacefulnight, but around 7am another heavy breathing attack woke me up. I couldn’t do anything to help the poor thing. I had to wait until 8am (which turned out to be 9am) before I could call the vet and luckily they could see me as the first patient. But that did still mean waiting untill 10.30 am. By the time I arrived at the vet’s, Valo was barely breathing anymore. The vet listened to hear and could hear her lungs had filled up with moisture and her breathing was very shallow. There was nothing left to do but to let the poor baby go.

For me, this was the first time in 10 years that I had to have a pet put to sleep, and the first time I had to do it all on my own. It’s not an easy decision I can tell you. Not so much choosing what is best for your animal, but realizing you have their life in your hands, and the emotional impact that has. I found it hard and I cried her a river or two. Luckily I have a great vet, who’s an expert in rats and she handled her very respectfully. I trust her with my pet’s lives ;).

I left Valo at the vet’s because 1. I don’t have a garden and 2. I don’t think my dad would feel up to burying her in his garden. I decided to donate her body to science, in the hope the vets working at the emergency animal hospital would learn something from her.

When I got home I cried and cried and cried and wrote her a goodbye on the forum where I first found the lady who runs the shelter I got her from. After a while I decided to get Ruma out of her cage, and she licked the tears right off my cheeks. Those were the last tears I cried that day. It’s amazing how much comfort a still living pet can give. I cuddled the crap out of my three remaining ladies, and kept on doing so for the next days, until it was time to come back to reality and start looking for a new friend for Maarit. More on that in my next post.

For now; goodbye dear Valo. You weren’t with me long, but you were special and dear to me and Maarit. I have learned so much from you in the 2,5 months that you were here and I will never forget. Have fun on the bridge!

 

In the Sputnik together

In the Sputnik together

 

Valo posing (or better said, pooping)

Valo posing (or better said, pooping)

Valo being a little acrobate as che found the goodies!

Valo being a little acrobate as she found the goodies!

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A new addition!

Published February 2, 2013 by Kokomo

About 4-5 weeks before Christmas time, there was a topic on the forum about rats that I frequent, that had a link to a christmas-charity website for rats that are in shelters. There was a long list of pictures of rats in several different shelters, with the option to either send a care-package, financially adopt or officially adopt one of the rats. Not all rats were adoptable, but my eye happened to fall on a little girl named Marit. The picture they had posted of here was too adorable to pass. As you all know, I had been considering getting a new rat (or two) for quite some time, and after mulling it over for a few days, I sent in an adoption form and from then on emails went flying all over the place and before I knew it, I was allowed to come pick her up, an hour’s drive away from where I live, the first weekend of December.

Look at that litte cute faced girl <3

Look at that litte cute faced girl ❤

She was already 2 years old, had been in the shelter for over a year, and spent the first months of her life in a cage that was WAY too small, in a cold garage where she got no attention at all. Poor thing.

But then, two days before I was about to go pick her up, the lady from the shelter sent me a email that she had found a lump, which could mean she had a tumor and if so, she would need surgery. So we postponed my pick-up date and I told her to give Marit a good deal of time to heal after surgery. Luckily, surgery went very well and Marit recovered quickly. But, by the time this had all passed, it was almost time for my surgery on my hand. So I didn’t want to have an introduction going on when I couldn’t intervene with my sore hand. We postponed my pick-up date again, until after my surgery.

Then, the day of my surgery, I came to the hospital and it turned out I was misinformed and I wasn’t going to get surgery until the second week of February. Once I got home, upset and frustrated, I emailed the lady from the shelter and I made plans to pick up Marit that Saturday, and I did.

When I first saw her, I was a little shocked at quite how small she is. She is even smaller than Ruma and weighs less as well. She is a little hunched, like in the picture, has Japanese hooded fur and dumbo ears. She was VERY scared when I picked her up and I instantly got covered with poop. But she was so adorable. Only one of her stitches was still in place, the rest had dissolved neatly and her fur was growing back in the area of the surgery. She still had her fur standing up, from either discomfort or stress, not quite sure, but the poor thing surely wasn’t feeling too good. And then we started the long journey home. I stuck my hand in the carry-on basket every now and then and talked and sang to her the whole way back. Once I got home, I instantly put Ruma with her and the two hit it off right away.

Marit has been here for a few weeks now, but it hasn’t been easy. I started introduction with Ruma, in a small cage, called a ‘mini-duna’ which I had purchased for this purpose and also for when one of them would get so sick they’d need to be separated.

(mine is blue though)

(mine is blue though)

Ruma and Marit went great together. They sniffed a little, but very soon were lying in a corner together, bruxing and boggling. Marit’s fur went down very quickly and I knew these two would be great together. I kept them in there for about 3 hours and then added Koko to the mix. This seemed to go just as well, and impatient as I was, after only another hour, I moved them back to the RS. Even still, things seemed to go fine and the next day I made the cage twice the size. That’s where I went wrong. Suddenly the fighting started. I had never heard a rat scream and squeal like a little pig, but Marit did. On the forum they advised me to quickly make the cage smaller and after some hesitation (took me a few hours to get it ready), I did and besides a bed and food and water, I took everything out of the cage. Nothing left to fight about.

The next day I got a visit from a friend, for dinner, and for a while, things seemed quiet. But then again, the fighting started and it was BAD. Hair was flying around and Marit and Koko were rolling around the cage so fast I could barely keep up. One time, Marit even fell from the little floor that was in there (about 25 cm high) and got a nasty cut on her back. I decided it was enough and put them back in the mini-duna. They ended up staying in there from Monday-night until Saturday-morning. No more fights luckily!

Little hunch-backed Marit

Little hunch-backed Marit

IMG-20130116-03660

Sleeping together in the Mini-Duna

From another shelter that I had visited to do a donation (another story), I was able to borrow a bigger Duna. The normal sized one, to take the next step in their introduction. I put them in there on Saturday and as things went well, I slowly started adding things to the cage, like a hammock and later a Sputnik XL.

They seemed to have become friends, so on Tuesday, I moved them back to half a Royal Suite. I slowly started adding things to the cage, one a day, like the Silent Spinner, and more hammocks. I started noticing they didn’t always sleep together, but that didn’t really worry me too much. Marit seemed to warm up to me, she would also come running to the door when I opened it, not as fast as the others, but always ready to receive a treat. I still couldn’t take her out of the cage much, because she would run and hide as fast as she could, but I figured this would just take time and patience. When I did take her out, she still had the habit of pooping all over me :(. The first days went great. They ate, pooped, drank and slept (together) and it seemed to have been a successful introduction. But then, everyday, I started noticing things. There would be a fight, Koko would have her hair standing up and threaten either Marit or Ruma, Marit would always be sleeping alone and more little things like this. On the forum they told me to be patient, maybe take out some beds from the cage and see what happened.

Marit nibbling at the hedgehog, ot a good pic, but you can see how small she is.

Marit nibbling at the hedgehog, ot a good pic, but you can see how small she is.

Then the other day, I had them all on my bed. Marit was happily exploring under my blankets and Koko came to join her. Instantly, Koko put her fur up and started pushing her. Marit would just make herself as small as possible and not move, hoping Koko would go away, but she didn’t. Eventually, Marit crawled into my shirt. Koko came towards us and then I caught her BITING Marit!!! I was so shocked! My Koko, biting! She wasn’t wounding Marit, but very clearly showing her disapproval. Obviously I didn’t let her and I instantly stopped this. Marit was so frightened after this. I kept her in my shirt for a while, until she felt safe enough to peek out again, and then returned her to the cage. Later on, I seemed to notice that Koko was locking her in the ball (they sleep in it as mentioned before). I wasn’t sure, so I moved the towel that Koko had been sleeping in, which was right in front of the ball, to the corner and checked again the next day. The towel was back in the same place, but I couldn’t be sure who did it, because Marit was always pulling it into the ball as well. So I left it like that.

In the mean time I had emailed the lady of the last named shelter, who loaned me her cage, to ask for her advice. What to do, because I could see Marit wasn’t happy, nor were Koko and Ruma. She told me I could come by and we could see of there was another rat there that Marit did click with. We made plans, but then I realised my surgery is coming up and I couldn’t be having an intro again here. She very sweetly offered to keep Marit for a while, if we were able to find her a friend there. I was to go over there on Saturday.

Then, last (Friday)night, when I let the ladies free range again, I noticed something that made me worry even more. Marit was on the bed with me, and Koko was nowhere to be seen, but Ruma came to say hi. Marit again made herself as small as possible and started pooping instantly. It was obvious fear-poop. Ruma, as far as I know, has never hurt her, she only grooms and cuddles, so I was quite shocked to see Marit behave like this. I realized she was just simply scared out of her mind for both my rats and I couldn’t put her back into the cage with them. So, I put her in the Duna, since it was just going to be one night anyways. I am going to the shelter today, and hopefully we will find Marit a new friend so she can spend her last weeks/months, maybe even year, happily together with her new friend.

Marit in a hammock in the RS. Love this sweet pic.

Marit in a hammock in the RS. Love this sweet pic.

This does mean I will have 2 groups of 2 rats, instead of one group of 3 or 4, as I wanted, but if this is best for the rats, this is what I will do. Either way, the RS will be in full use. I have enough to fill the cage, so it shouldn’t be an issue (except for the bottom plate that I need to get…). Not the way I would have liked to see it, but their happiness means more to me. So, I will keep you updated on the new developments!

P.S. Sorry for the endless post! 🙂

The cuddles, the cuddles!

Published February 1, 2013 by Kokomo

How very often I get the sweetest cuddles from little Ruma. She climbs into my clothes (especially when I lie on my belly on my bed), licks my hands and my face, loves sitting in my lap and washing herself and on occasion likes to explore my ears (the weirdest tickle you’ve ever felt!). Whenever she has done something she shouldn’t, which is about every 10 minutes, or one of her adventurous actions fails and ends in her falling off something, she comes running to me to get some reassuring cuddles. I really love it when I sit on my bed, legs crossed, laptop on my lap, there’s a hole under the laptop where she can sit for fifteen minutes if she’s calm enough and just wash herself and relax. I can always count on my little Ruma to come and give me cuddles.

Ruma kisses <3

Ruma kisses ❤

This is also one of the reasons I got these two. I had just lost my job, a new job that I actually liked, and I knew I was going to be at home, looking for a new job. I had spent quite some time home alone just months before recovering from a burn-out and I knew I needed something other than my laptop to keep me entertained. I remembered the great times I had with my old rats and went out and bought Koko on the day I got laid off. Still no regrets. Most of the time…

Koko on the other hand; I think she is not as smart as her little sister. I really do compare the two to pinky and the brain most of the time. Koko was always more held back than Ruma, even in the beginning she didn’t like to sit still. Now obviously, her weight is causing her to be slower than Ruma, although she manages to escape when I try to grab her to go back into the cage more often than I like. Anyhow, she does not like to sit still and be cuddled. But, lately, she has been getting better about it. The other day, I picked her up and flipped her over on her back into my two hands (she can’t sit on one), because I just wanted to rub my check against her ADORABLE fat belly. It’s the softest EVER. She let me turn her over, she wasn’t too keen on the belly rubbing, but when I started massaging her little shoulders and ears, she quite complacently just laid there. Slowly her little eyes closed and her little mouth widened. I did my best not to burst out in laughter because the view of a rat on her back with her mouth open is hysterical I can tell you! (Alas, no hands left to take pictures) She seemed to thoroughly enjoy getting a little backrub and so I have found a way to cuddle my Kokomo! ❤

Trying to cuddle with Koko

Trying to cuddle with Koko

Hopefully we’ll have many more cuddles to come!

P.S. Sorry for the crappy quality pics. I guess we have established the cam on my phone is awful, but alass, no money for a good one…

Rats vs kids

Published November 17, 2012 by Kokomo

Are pet rats just like kids? In some aspects, YES THEY ARE!

1. All candy will be stolen and eaten or hidden away.

2. Any wet surface can and MUST be licked.

3. Things aren’t hot until they burn themselves on it.

4. No glass with a drink in it can be left untouched.

We can ALL share

5. Rubber duckies are the best thing ever, especially for putting in your mouth.

6. They never see danger coming.

7. When they fall, they always double over and it looks like they are breaking their necks. 😦

8. They eat, poop, sleep and get into trouble basically.

9. Flinging poop can be SO MUCH fun.

10. Anything breakable must be tested.

11. If it smells like chocolate, it is chocolate and they will eat it.

Tomato? what tomato? I smell chocolate!

12. If it’s quiet for longer then 5 minutes, you KNOW they are up to something.

13. Plastic makes the best sound in the world.

14. EVERYTHING must be tasted.

15. Whatever part of the house you just cleaned, they find it and mess it up.

16. Smartphones are a whole world of fun.

17. Sitting still for a picture is the hardest thing in the world.

Nice and blurry

18. If they can see through it, they can squeeze themselves stuck in it.

19. If they can’t see on top of it, they must climb on top of it.

20. Medicine and chemicals are candy, right?

21. Bath time is fun time.

22. New toys are the best to destroy.

But, we can’t deny it, we love them like crazy! ❤

Why everyone should get pet rats!

Published November 10, 2012 by Kokomo

Giving my human kisses!

 

Following up on my post about bad habits, this post will be about how wonderful and funny and smart and sweet my ratties can be and why they make great pets. I could write on and on and on and on and well, on about it forever, but

Sweet Ruma grooming herself.

instead I have decided to give you a top 5. Sorry, couldn’t stick to just 3, I had to make it 5. Enjoy!

5. Grooming 

Studies have shown that rats spend 1/3 of their day grooming themselves. That is twice as much a cats do! To that time you can add the time they spend grooming each other. Depending on the size of your pack, that time can vary. My Ruma also likes to spend time grooming me and on a lucky day, Koko will start fishing around in my hair. Rats are clean. Cleaner than cats, WAY cleaner than dogs. If your rat smells, you need to clean the cage, simple as that. They smell bad, because the cage smells bad.

4. Tail wagging

I am sure most of you have never heard of this behavior, but it exists and it is damn cute! This site has dedicated a well 2 lines to this behavior as it is not well researched and no one knows for sure why they do it. I have caught both my ladies doing it and strangly, they were both sitting in nearly the same spot, facing in the same direction. Ruma does it more often, but I have also spotted Koko doing it. Now it’s nothing to be compared to dogs or cats wagging their tales. It’s a quick, almost nervous movement that makes the tail wag quickly and shortly. It’s just so darn cute.

3. Companionship

Rats are, like cats, very independent, they will decide what they do, when they do it and no human can change that. Like dogs, they can learn quickly and if you reward them, but also very much on their own. But they differ from dogs and cats in that they like to be together. I mean, sure, lot’s of people have 2 or more dogs or cats, but those animals do fine when they are alone in the family.

Sharing my drink together

Keeping a rat alone, not such a good idea. Rats live in packs in the wild and even though the domesticated rat is hardly to be compared to the wild one, they still like to be in a pack. A pack can be two, if, like me, you don’t like cleaning the cage every 3 days and don’t have a fortune to spend on food. It’s so adorable to see them together, grooming, playing, sleeping.

I am going to help you type this, so you don’t make any mistakes.

2. Playfulness

Rats are nocturnal by nature but very adaptable in this rythm. They don’t need as much sleep as hamsters for instance, so they will wake up during the day, according to your rythm and are ready to play whenever you like. I’ve played with my girls during all times of the day. It doesn’t really matter what time I get up, as soon as they hear me scurrying about, they come out of their sleeping mode and greet

I’m up, I’m up!

me warmly. Day and night, they are ready to come out, play, cuddle and explore.

1. Bruxing and Boggling

To some people this may seem scary, because of the eyes bulging out of their sockets (see a video here) but to a true ratlover, there is nothing better. It can be compared to a cat purring and it means the rat is very relaxed, and very happy. It’s not behavior they show everyday, so when I do catch them doing it, it makes me so happy because it means I am taking good care of my ladies.

So there you have it. Now if this hasn’t convinced you to buy rats, perhaps you should see some adorable pictures here.

Like birds of a feather…

Jus’ chillin’

Olemme niin söpö

Napping close to my human.

A trip down memory lane

Published October 22, 2012 by Kokomo

As I was cleaning my house this weekend, sorting through boxes and making more room for all my rat-related-shit to be put away, I found my old micro-sd reader, complete with an sd card from an old phone. Oh joy, I LOOOOOOVE discovering things I thought I had lost. This time, I got to discover pictures of  my second set of rat ladies; Bear and Tiger. I got them in 2007, whilst still living in my dorm, but had to give them away to a friend’s aunt when I moved to the US in July 2008. I never got to see them grow old (nor did I see the 1st pair grow old as my dorm-landlord had banned all pets and I had to find another home for them), but then again, I never had to endure the heartache of seeing them die.

I remember I got Bear first. She was white and very docile. She would sleep between my pillows on my bed or under a blanket with me when I would take my study-naps. All of that changed when I added Tiger to the mix. They were at least 4 months apart. (Yes I had Bear alone for a while, but all the nests I had looked at in the mean time had sick rats). Tiger was not even half the size of Bear (I wish I still had pics of that time), and had a black hood on her head, with a stripe going all the way down her back. Sadly, Tiger was sick when I brought her home (I had looked so good, never heard a sneeze in the pet-store) and so she infected Bear.

Tiger on my shoulder, young me 😉

Back then, I hadn’t done much research on rats. The first pair were given to me by a roommate who had bought them for her boyfriend who didn’t like them. The two had started fighting each other (looking back this must have been a consequence of too little space), and she wanted to get rid of them. I separated them in two cages, gave them lot’s of love and taught them to be nice to each other. All was fine within a few weeks. But then they had to go. About a year later I got Bear. I didn’t have an internet connection in my dormroom, nor easy access and, to be honest, no idea there actually was any research. But the first pair ( called Star -first Cruella and Scabbers) had made me fall in love with the species. Can you believe I actually wanted hamsters first?

Bear, peeking out the cage. She used to ‘center’ a lot.

It took me a while to notice that Bear and Tiger were getting worse. Bear actually developed an abscess, or so it looked. So after two weeks, I took them to the vet. The vet wasn’t very hopeful. He told me rats are very viable to cancers and tumors and Bear’s days (by then probably 6 months old) were counted. He gave me antibiotics for both (the same as I got for Koko and Ruma) and told me to hope for the best. Just 5 days into giving them their cure, Bear’s abscess started disappearing. Soon, she was back to normal eating, and playing with Tiger.

 

The girls cuddled together. Bear in the front. 

Tiger was way more active and feisty than Bear. She was always running around, playing, trying to go places she shouldn’t, stealing things and gnawing through EVERY thing. Always pulling things into the cage too. Weirdly, as she grew into adulthood, her hood turned white, with an odd dark hair here and there.

Eventually, this was left of Tiger’s black hood…

I have to admit, besides this, I don’t remember much of the bunch. It was quite a while ago and I didn’t know half as much as I know now about keeping rats. (Their caging was actually quite proper – the straw was only temporary, I was experimenting). So, just enjoy the (very blurry) pictures below. It makes me reminisce.

 

Lazying about

 

Tiger again.

 

Sleeping in a self-made nest.

 

Introduction to the pea-pool

Published September 23, 2012 by Kokomo

Oh my how much fun we had today! Many times now I have seen posts by people putting a bowl of water with peas in it down for their rats, and today it was finally my girls’ turn to try this phenomenon. I know they love frozen peas, I have given them dishes of peas before and they would disappear in no time (just like frozen shrimp coincidentally). But, I also know they hate water. I have tried every which way to get them to take a bath. The bottom of a cage, propped up on one side, filled with lukewarm water, rocks and other toys. The sink, filled with lukewarm water and a ladder, and when they had found their way into the shower, I tried carefully turning the faucet on. They hate every thing. No water pleaaaaaaaase! I cannot count the scratches they gave me in scared attempts to escape the water. So a bowl of water with peas would be a novelty. I decided to take a deep plate, something shallow to start off with. And put not too many, but enough to drift to the sides, peas in it.

The dish with peas.

The ladies were already running free when I set the dish down, but I sat down next to in and that, to them, is always an invitation to come see what’s going on. Soon enough Koko discovered the dish and fished out a pea from the edge. Within a matter of seconds, Ruma joined her, but, seeing as Ruma is never as hungry as her big sister, she was more careful and firstly sniffed around. When she found out there were peas the dish, she happily attacked them as well. This disturbed Koko who then ran off under the bed with her pea. She undoubtedly peeled the pea and left the cover under my bed. Quickly she came running back and repeated the process. After a few peas she felt safer and just sat by the dish eating them. Ruma was done after 4 or 5 peas and trailed off climbing my shoulders. This gave Koko even more confidence and soon enough I found her siting in the middle of the dish, IN the water, eating her peas. Good girl. She ate, and ate and ate and then, with her wet and cold feet, climbed on my lap to warm up and get some approving petting from me. Aren’t they adorable? I took the opportunity to shoot like a madman with my camera so below is a gallery with some awesome shots that I have never managed before. Next time I need pics? Put out a dish of peas! 🙂 Enjoy!

Koko carefully trying…

Trying together (I love this shot)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eating together

Koko drying of her snout. It’s soooo wet! 😛

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greedy Koko in the dish.

Ruma close-up. Gosh this is my favorite shot ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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