New rescue rats: Edie, Tilly and Bluebell (one old abused girl and two pregnant fosters, one needs special care)
(I’ll get some pics shortly, they’re all exhausted right now and sleeping off a good meal.)
I adopted Edie yesterday, the old rat I was waiting on. She’s 3 years old at her owner’s estimate, and her two young cagemates were delivered to the rescue yesterday SEVERELY malnourished. (I mean every bone sticking out, they look like dogs from sad facebook videos. I can feel every vertebrae and rib and thier hips are like two rocks, it breaks my heart.) Apparently their food had been restricted to twice daily and was mostly peas and other things that seriously do not make up the high protein requirements of rats. By the smell and filth of their fur, the cage wasn’t being cleaned regularly either. They’d lived in a caravan with no vet care ever. She has a severe respiratory infection, I wasn’t sure she’d make it through the night after the stress of moving but she did! I’ve been making a supplemental food mix (which has been working, Hetty has been losing about 5g per two weeks the last month due to age/myco, but since I started on it she’s gained 5g since her last weigh and her conditioning is excellent) of eggs, tuna, creamed corn, coconut oil, and spinach, it’s a disgusting smelling wet porridge but the rats go wild for it. Poor Edie gulped it down all day yesterday, she just would not stop eating. She weighs 200g. For reference my smallest girl who hasn’t yet filled out into her adult body is 310. Edie just wants to be close. She’s slow and rickety, and gently climbs onto you just to lie down. She’s clingy, this close to the end, so I’ll be having her on me a lot, she’s in my sleeve while I type this. However long she has left she’ll at least have antibiotics, decongestant, food all the time, a clean cage and all the cuddles she wants, as well as someone to keep an eye out for the right time to have her PTS, which is important too.
(Tilly’s cagemates are being rehabilitated at the shelter so they can hopefully be adopted out to a pet home one day, but Edie needs a gentle home and constant care for next next weeks/months of her life, so I took her.)
I also went on a road trip to get three other rats I’d seen a few days ago. A snake food breeder who realized she didn’t have the time or stomach for it had gotten rid of all her snakes and feed rats, and had three rats who were pets that she wanted to rehome. Only problem was, they were two girls and a boy, all in the same cage. FFS. So she was refusing to sell as food, but nobody would take them as pets because of the pregnancy, they were screwed and in poor living conditions, as the owner has a special needs daughter who had fallen sick, adn couldn’t care for the three pet rats any longer. The shelter owner did the driving, and I paid for the rats. They were in a tiny empty cage being fed bird seed plus whatever dinner scraps were left. Not good. The boy is very undersized for his age (likely due to the awful diet) but seems healthy enough. I gave him to the shelter, he’ll be screened and rehomed probably very quickly, as he’s beautiful, young and snuggly. The girls I’m fostering while they give birth. The plan is that I’ll take them through it, raise the babies as pets and rehome them myself or through the shelter. But these girls have some issues, which is part of why I needed to grab them, nobody would have taken them. Bluebell is a ‘blue’, a desirable and recessive coat colour that feeder breeders often use to make an extra buck on the side from blue babies. She had her tail snapped in a cage door long ago, and has a kink and a scar there. She has a mild RI but is a beautiful, gentle and inquisitive girl, I think I might adopt her after the birth. (Lets be real, I was always going to get attached.)
Tilly is Bluebell’s daughter, she’s special needs. She has a head tilt that she was apparently born with (meaning it’s most likely a brain tumor rather than damage from infection) which makes her walk in circles and fall when she climbs. Apparently she was withheld as a pet instead of snake food because the owner thought the tilt was cute. -.- She’s nervous because of this, and very underweight. She explores things by test biting, (which I’m okay with in her case), and although the breeder said she nips and attacks, I’ve been gentle with her and careful not to startle her and I haven’t had any problems at all. Bluebell is definitely pregnant, already starting to show, and although Tilly isn’t showing yet she almost certainly will be. Tilly is struggling to integrate with my rats because of how nervous she is, even a gentle sniff has her screeching, which riles my girls up until they start actually being upset and dominant. I’m doing slow intros but for now the three new girls are in a separate cage. I’m not keen on rehoming Tilly, as she needs special care for her tilt, but she’s accounted for, if she can’t live with my girls she’ll go in with the two pets of the rescue owner, one of which has a tilt herself (but whose quality of life is still good, obv.) and the other who has a birth defect. So long as her quality of life remains worth living, she’ll stay with one of us.
I will likely have to put the girls on antibiotics at some point, which means hand-raising the babies since the meds come through in the milk and will harm them. I can’t medicate them while they are pregnant, but after the birth I’ll make the call about which option puts them and the babies more at risk based on how they’re doing. I can foster these girls because I just got on holidays from uni, since raising requires 2 hourly feeds of sucking milk off a tiny paintbrush, and rubbing their little bellies with a wet cotton bud to make them digest and poop, etc etc. However the situation pans out I’m really glad these girls got out of the situations they were in, and I’m looking forward to seeing them all (hopefully) recover and gain condition.