In memoriam

It was a sad day when I realized I needed a separate page for rats that have passed. Rats live such short lives that I soon had more pets in the next world than in this one. Now I soon need to split up the page... In spite of their short lives their little paws have made deep impression in their mistress's heart.


RatRace's and Matmors Wesen

top eared, normal coated agouti self from the RAR-MAM-N Fix star litter born 27/11 2011, euthanised 07.06.2013 for pain and suspected blood clot and tumor in belly.
Wesen two months old
If Skat chose himself by becoming my personal groomer finding the second stayer was much harder. Wesen became the kitten of choice because he was inquisitive during the baby test, and because he felt so relaxed in my hands. Wesen is a bouncy rat, not far from being the spitting image of his father at the same age. He quite enjoys provoking his father and uncles. All in all he is a very different rat than Skat. At the age of 4 months I believed I had an alpha in the making. Fortunately he behaved very civilly towards his brother Vega who came to stay with us when they were 3 1/2 months old. At 6 months tables were turned: Wesen seemed more of a beta rat, and Skat the alpha wannabe.

Unfortunately Wesen was a nipper. He gnawed on furniture, and he seemed to believe that anything covered with cloth or clothing was free to grab with his front teeth. And he simply did not understand a frustrated "Eeeep!" nor a stern"No!". He was so relaxed in my hands that putting him on his back and scratching his belly fur makde no impression at all. Wesen just laid there with dangeling feet and seemed more interested in the ceiling than the presumed chastisement. When he was released he sometimes went straight back to nipping my elbow through the sleeve. Or he would just stay and lick my fingers. It was hard not to overlook his faults when he was so endearing. He was unbelievably patient with two frightened kittens visiting. When Wesen discovered that one of them did not dare to approach the food bowl he carried a tidbit over to the little one, dropped it and withdrew. (Unfortunately Skat spoiled it by grabbing the treat from underneath the baby's nose.) Wesen spent several hours in a clean cage with the kittens, teaching them to trust adult rats before they were introduced to their intended cage mate (also a visitor). Unfortunately the visitor did not approve of adult rat smells on the kittens, which made further meetings unsafe once they were living together.

Wesen behaved very well for the first 15 days of a 16 day holiday stay in another rat home. Sadly, hours before he was going to be picked up he snapped and bit his caretaker quite out of the blue. Even if he became his old self within less than a day at home he has been castrated. A new holiday stay was in the planning and I would not want to risk the rat caretaker's fingers if it could be prevented. Fortunately he handled his next holiday much better! In retrospect it is possible that he was in pain when he bit. There has been one other occasion at around 13 months when I found him with fluffed up fur, one half closed eye and bruxing in a way that did not seem friendly. I waited for him to come to me rather than pick him up. When he did come he was tense all over and refused treats - this from a rat that was overweight and normally ate anything he could stuff himself with. In fact he behaved very much like someone suffering from a migraine. His appetite and tolerance for handling improved around 15 minutes after I'd forced him to take Metacam. The piloerection also disappeared.

Toward the end of his life Wesen was successfully introduced to the intact buck Samiel. Post castration he did well at adult introductions to females and kept peace whith Samiel and Faust. Unfortunately he missed Skat and the ladies too much, which meant that Faust and Samiel remained a solitary pair. Wesen has also behaved well during introductions to kittens of both sexes. At 15 months he has had a preputial gland abscess and a couple of abscesses on the tail. He is also somewhat overweight. Even so he is in fairly good shape.

R.I.P. Flaxholme Sovereign

born 18.07.2012 euthanised for dominance and aggression 13.05.2013
top eared, standard coated golden himalayan

This rat was staying with Anita, who co-owned him. Sovereign and his siblings came from an inbred group directly descendant from Sheila Sowter's first rat in 1989-1990.

to the right, Sovereign 7m
At first Sovereign got along well with his cage mates and was a good pet rat for his human. Unfortunately, around 7 moths he snapped and killed a kitten during introductions. After that things went quickly downward. He was separated from other rats but continued to work himself up and threaten his owner. Because he could not be handled easily in a reconvalescen phase the vet adviced against castrating him. We deceided his current lonely life was not fit for a rat, and sent him over the rainbow bridge to join former cage mate Faust.

R.I.P. Flaxholme Faust

born 18.07.2012 died 02.05.2013 - far too early!

RED with a light and brownish tint, possibly mink based. Standard coat and top eared.
This rat was originally staying with Anita who co-owned him. He and his siblings came from a an inbred group descendant from a trio of rats given to Flaxholme stud from RenÚ Bastiaan in Holland. Faust has a conspicious break in his tail and was easy to recognise from his brother. At Anita's place he was fearful of adult rats and quite territorial against humans. Hands were not safe near his rat house. For some reason he felt much better here and let down his guard almost as soon as he got inside my rat shed. Soon he turned into a gorgeous lap rat who had no thougts of using his teeth for anything but eating. He had no known health problems apart from a slightly sensible stomach until 1 1/2 weeks before I found him dead in the cage. When he fell ill, he lost weight rapidly. I was able to make him put some of it back on, but it was all in vain. Faust lost some of his love for cuddles - and the night before he died I knew he was dying. I felt his spine stand out sharp against the skin. Because he had no other signs of disease I sent him for an autopsy. I need to know if there were signs I should have noticed earlier. At least he probably went peacefully. He lay relaxedly in one of his favourite spots as if he were asleep.

Faust was a perfect rat at the only introduction he attempted. He simply sniffed my castrated bucks and went on as usual. In fact, he and his brother provided med with the most boring introduction video I've ever seen...

R.I.P Matmor's Azlon

(from Matmor's Fibre litter) born 2010-09-21 euthanised 2012.12.28 for weight loss and pain
himalaya, probably agouti based
Azlon was the biggest boy in this litter from the start. I had meant to keep two Agouti boys, but Azlon was the only one among the kittens who resembled his grandfather Mimer in looks, at least occasionally. For a long time he was hard to tell apart from his brother Olefin. Hence their personality was somewhat elusive. Eventually I learned that Azlon was the calmest of the two by far. He went nicely slack when I lifted him up, and occationally he'd lay down beside me to have his neck scratched. That's something I did not expect from a young rat. I could recognise him (mostly) by the way he moved, by a mark where I'd cut away his fur, because he was more powerfully built, and because his eyes were more often stained with porphyrin. At 2 1/2 months he was introduced to the almost 17 months old Humle. The introduction went very well but Azlon made it clear that he was not a baby and should not be treated as such. At 6 1/2 months Azlon was successfully introduced to another adult castrate. Lately he was successfully introduced to his nephews and a female castrate. At around 10 months he behaved well while being free ranged with an adult, intact buck who stayed for a few weeks during the summer holiday.

Based on his size and confidence I believed Azlon would become the new Alpha when he reached adulthood. From an early age he regarded himself top boy among his brothers. The much smaller Olefin he did not even recognise as a contestant. He also tried to ignore that Elastan was telling him: "I'm fit! I may be smaller than you, but I'll just try harder!" And well he might. Mania, his dad, handed him the reins when Azlon was only 4 1/2 months old. A little later the alpha position was held by Elastan There ensued several transitions of power between them. No bloody fights, just a bit of pushing and one or two instances of flying fur.

Slightly before he turned 17 months Azlon had a small wound on his back side that turned into a larger wound. The scabs were nibbled on by Olefin. It seemed as if there was something like an eczema going on. For a while the itching could be kept mostly in check with ordinary skin creams. Unfortunately, each time I believed it was healing and became less dilligent with the ointmet, the problem got worse. Hoping to heal the wounds once and for all Azlon had prednisolon and Fucidine ointment. It helped for a few days, then he developed a fucidinic acid resistant infection. Oral antibiotics did the trick. The eczema was slowly giving way to healthy skin due to dilligent use of Zinc ointment. I had hoped to use Azlon for breeding because of his wonderful temper and his delight in humans. Seeing the eczema made me think better of it. There have been several cases of skin problems in his family over at least three generations on the father's side. I did not want to add to the problem by breeding from a rat who has this problem himself.

At 23 months Azlon was feeling the weight of age. He became very docile and the fur on his back had turned wooly. Azlon was too old to take over the alpha position. I did not expect to see him again when I left him with a friend, to return when he would be past 25 months. To my joy Azlon was still there to greet me. Over the next few weeks I cared for him as best as I could while watching the former giant's sad decline. He lost more than 200 g in a matter of 2 1/2 months. His hind legs were wobbly and eventually one foot became all lame. He was troubled by pain. When he started needing pain medication more often than every other day I knew it was time to end a long relationship. Because of the Christmas holiday the vet did not have time for the autopsy. I brought him home and tried to find the reason for his condition. It turned out his heart was enlarged, which may explain the pain, at least.



Azlon 48 days old

R.I.P. Matmor's Olefin

(from Matmor's Fibre litter) born 2010-09-21 euthanised 2012.12.28
Himalaya, probably Agouti-based

Olefin was originally the smallest of the Himalaya boys. He was not one to accept this as a disadvantage, though. I had a feeling he would turn out to be an Omega rat. This was based on his behaviour at introduction to Humle, and how his brothers behaved towards him. At 6 1/2 months Olefin was easily introduced to an adult castrate. He started worryingly by puffing up his fur as the visitor rat enteren the rat room. Then he thought better of it and became the first one to befriend this large, new rat. It took a while to determine his personality. From the start he was hard to recognise from his brother Azlon. As time went by I found more and more signs to know them by. For a while Olefin was a typical hammock killer and chewer of clothes. And he would definitely like to be the head of his siblings. Azlon and Elastan were telling him to keep out of it. If Olefin tried anything the two biggest brothers joined forces and faced him down together.

The mature Olefin seemed to have given up on the alpha role. He probably took over for a brief while when his brother Elastan died. Skat and Wesen, post, castration, were not as keen to take over as they would have been before they were de-nutted.

At 16 months he was easily introduced to a female castrate and his nephews. He also met and interacted peacefully with an adult, intact male for around two weeks when he was around 10 months. The only problem I had with Olefin was his tendency to nip. Especially when he was on a diet, he would nip me through my clothes, and he also nibbled the scabs from the wound of another rat. Olefin was very relaxed when handled and loving to humans - except for the nipping when was dieting. He never tried to grab my fingers. At 23 months he looked like a much younger rat. Still I feared I would not see him again when I left for an extended holiday, to return when he was past 25 months. Olefin, however, held out. On my return I found a much slimmer rat and no diet I could think of could keep him from continuing to loose weight. He also started having breathing problems. Olefin fell asleep in my arms after a kind nudge at the veterinary office when he was 27 months old. I was not able to discover the reason behind his laboured breathing as his lungs were fine and I found no liquid buildup or enlarged heart. The only unusual finding was thet during his last day he started to curl up his left front paw.



Olefin 48 days old

R.I.P. Elastan

(from Matmor's Fibre litter) born 2010-09-21 euthanised 2012-08-21 for pain of unknown origin.
Agouti berkshire with small white belly spot
Elastan started out as the biggest Agouti but had a less steep growth curve than his siblings when they started eating solids. He is very energetic and in fact I called him "the wanderer" quite early because he was quick to crawl away from his littermates. When he learned to walk he earned a new nickname: "Sprettball" ("Bouncy ball"). He was so much like his late uncle Afrik I knew he was a keeper well before three weeks of age. Afrik remained playful and baby like until he was close to a year. The baby like behaviour paid off during introduction to the adult Humle when Elastan was 2 1/2 months old. At 6 1/2 months his direct but gentle approach eraned him the place as the first to dare share a hammoc with a visiting castrate. Lately he was successfully introduced to his own male kittens and a castrated female. Elastan also behaved well meeting an intact male rat during free range time when he was around 10 months old.

As a youngster, by the time his brothers clomb my arm Elastan had been up and down my shoulder three times already. With age he has become more of a plodder. Elastan is partial to a rough rubbing of his flanks.
Elastan and Azlon have been alphas on and off. Each change has been accompanied by clean fights for a limited period of time. No blood - just the occasional flying fur. They prefer to settle things under my eyes. This, I've found, is usually a sign that the bucks don't want the fight to escalate. They trust me to interfer if things get out of hand. A stern word has been all that was required to make them take a break.

Elastan fathered a litter of 10 kittens when he was 14 months old. At 17 months age seemed to creep upon Elastan. He was still fairly light on his feet, but now and again ill health was clearly bothering him. The usually sweet rat would go all grumpy with his cage mates and isolate himself. Elastan also turned food possessive and chased the others away from the food bowl when they were on a diet. This, however, was easily handled. He was quite happy to have his own, small food bowl away from the other rats and the large bowl. Pain was involved in the grumpyness. Each time he was brought back to his normal happy self with a dose of painkiller. As long as he had more good days than bad days he had a life. At almost 23 months his coat has turned wooly. Then came the week-end when I had to get out the painkiller bottle for the fourth time that week. Elastan was put to sleep after a few days of liberal swigs of meloxicam and much cosseting. He was still strong and fought every step of the way to the rainbow bridge. A limited autopsy showed no signs of his discomfort. Liver, spleen, digestive tract, kidneys, heart and lungs looked just fine, and there were no signs of hidden tumors.
Elastan 48 days old


R.I.P. Matmor's Hampus

(from Matmor's Fibre litter) born 2010-09-21
Himalaya, probably Agouti-based
Hampus was recognisable from day one because of his amputated tail tip. Personality wise he was more timid than his size would warrant. As a kitten he was spending more time in the sheltered house than his siblings. He was rarely the first one to come to the cage door. There was somethin about his eyes that had me worried he would turn into a problem rat. In most respects he proved me wrong. When introduced to the fearsome Humle Hampus was always respectful but not unduely frightened. In fact, Hampus showed uncommonly good sense taking care not to aggrivate the big guy: Hampus quite deliberately filled his mouth with food before seeking out Humle to sniff him. That way Humle knew the little one's teeth were occupied. At 6 1/2 monts things were slightly different when he met an adult castrate. Hampus left no mark on the castrate, but the castrate left a mark on him. For two days afterwards Hampus puffet up his fur, and the castrate huffed and puffed when they were near eachother. Afterwards it was possible to let them free range together and even share a cage for about half a day. After a week Hampus was ready to move in with the castrate. He and Olefin got along equally well with the old boy.

Hampus 48 days old

Because Hampus was calmer than Olefin, and because Kesia liked his relaxed attitude when handled, Hampus got to follow the castrate home. Unfortunately this Fibre boy had his heart string firmly attatched to his Mistress and home environment. When he realised that he was not coming home any time soon, Hampus became stressed out, and then angry and sulky. The only thing that helped was hearing my voice over the telephone! That, and being scooped up in my arms and brought home. In an instant he was changed from a surly, hormone driven angry teenager to the playful and relaxed boy I knew. Even his oiliness and flowery smell subsides overnight, back in the company of his brothers. He has become sort of special to me after this... Hampus has no part in the careful power struggle between his brothers. He behaved well when free-ranged with an adult intact buck here during a holiday when Hampus was around 10 months old. Unfortunately Hampus still reacted to moving. A night in a strange home with other rats in nearby cages was enough to make him unsettled, even when he had his brothers with him. At 16 months Hampus was successfully introduced to his nephews and a female castrate.

Healthwise he did well up to just over 18 months. At around seven months he started making grunting noises that were not timed to his breathing. He had a short bout of ruffled fur just before 18 months. His tail was always slightly irritated and with a pinkish hue, but a little moisturizer was all it took to hold it in check. Then, suddenly, the pink turned to red, and the skin became puckered and sore. Hampus had aquired an infected eczema which did not respond to antibiotics. At 20 months the tail was obviously painful, and the infection was spreading fast. His tail was amputated in an effort to give him a pain free life. Unfortunately he never woke up after the operation. Most likely his heart gave in, but a post mortem examination showed kidney damage from the drugs administered at the operation. I shall miss his smile, because he had the kind of rat face that smiled.

RAR-MAM-N Vega

top eared, normal coated agouti berkshire from the RatRace's and Matmor's Fix star litter born 27/11 2011 euthanised 19/3 2012 for returning abscesses after a bite wound.

Vega three and a half months old
Vega was sold to Lyngrottene. Unfortunately he arrived just in time to excarbate problems in her group of male rats. The veterinary could only finish what one of the grown males attempted, whereupon Vega earned the nickname Einstein (one stone). Even with the assumed perpetrator removed Vega clearly was not happy. When he frightened the kitten his owner bought to keep him company we deceided that Vega would probably be better off with a mother substitute and gentle group. Vega was returned to me on the 2012.03.08, re-operated on the next day, and was immediately swept up under Elvira's protective wings. I split my group in two so that Vega would not feel too much threateded. He first lived with Elvira and his two brothers, but during free range time he was allowed to interact with his father and uncles too. After less than a week Vega was ready to live in the large communal cage. Unfortunately the operation and the antibiotics could not stop the abscess formation.

Elvira

Elvira 4 months
Elvira was a Wistar Hannover rat lady born week 20 2010 and euthanised 19.03.2012 She used to be a breeder rat in a laboratory. Elvira had a litter before coming to me on the 16 th. October 2010. In spite of her background Elvira with much less human socialisation than fancy rats she would come to the cage door and climb right onto me. She would kiss my mouth and was nearly always ready to dive into my sweater. She used to have a thing about fingers, though. Elvira never drew blood, but she would nip anything which dangeled in front of her face. After a while she still grabbed hold of strangers with her teeth but stopped nipping my fingers. Eventually all she did was sniff and lick.

This lady has was introduced to my girls and the just over four weeks old Fibre litter without complications. She came here with same age, possibly sister, Nola to be evaluated for breeding purposes. Nola was out of the question, and for various reasons I never got around to breed from Elvira, even though she had the qualities I was looking for. Apart from the company she was kept to teach med more about Wistar rat in a pet environment. Elvira caught a mild and transient respiratory infection at just over one year old. She did not need antibiotic treatment to clear it. Since then she has had respiratory noises coming and going. At 21 months she started looking a bit under the weather so I had her x-rayed, but her lungs and internal organs looked fine. Even so she was obviously not in perfect health. I just did not know where to look next. She did not respond much to pain medication. Increasingly she withdrew from the other rats, and she started nipping me again. She may have contracted a urinary infection, but when the antibiotics did not help I followed the vet's advice and put her to sleep. In spite of her troubles she was a strong rat, and all the internal organs seemed fine.

Elvira always behaved well during introductions to adult females, kittens, and even intact male rats. When her cage mate Nola died I had her implanted with Suprelorine. It is not a foolproof contraceptive, but considering Elvira's age I reconed she could live out her life with the boys. This appeared to have been a good move. Elvira acted as a sort of nanny to Skat and Wesen, and the male rats were quite chivalrous to her. A chivalry that Elvira shamelessly exploited! During her last two weeks she took good care of Vega who was re-homed to me at the age of 3 1/2 months.

Nola

Nola, a Wistar Hannover Galas laboratory rat, was born in the first week of May 2010. She died 2011.10.12. By the time I bought her she had her first litter. Sadly, unlike her same age friend, and possibly sister Elvira, Nola was a nervous and thraumatised rat. She had great fear of male rats and was neophobic to the extreme. She was also slightly more dominant toward her cage mates than she ought to be. And, of course, she liked to nip fingers. Not everybody's idea of a good pet. Still, she never bit, and she was trusting enough to approach me and suffer handling. Nola was also good to other rats' kittens and never caused trouble during introductions.



Nola had several health problems that contributed towards her behaviour. I had a suspicion from quite early on that something was not quite right. She became the costliest rat I've had so far from veterinary bills, tests and second opinions. Eventually she was diagnosed with emphysema and falliopean cysts. Poor Nola, she was too calm because she did not have the energy to run around, and she was grumpy because of the pain. Not much could be done about the emphysema. When she needed a spay to take care of the cysts I knew it was a high risk procedure. I so wanted for her to be free of pain and alive to enjoy life for a while. Sadly Nola did not survive the post op.

Nola 4 months

Humle

Humle (Bumblebee), a black berkshire rex, was born 2009.07.28. He was re-homed to me 2010.07.03 and euthanized 2011.06.27 because of a fast growing tumor. Humle was a pet shop bought rat, but his father was past three years when he fathered this litter. His advanced age made the litter interesting for breeding purposes, so three brothers and a sister were snatched up by someone with an interest in improving the life expectancy of fancy rats.

Humle was the only one of his known siblings with temper problems. After showing typically hormonal behaviour he became a lone rat. Following her vet's advice the former owner had a hormonal chip installed as a chemical castration. (As it turned out, this was not a good idea. Rats are particularly sensitive to the hormonal chips and are in danger of developing pituitary tumors with extended exposure.) For Humle the chip was only partially successful in calming him down. Unfortunately he also become frightened of other rats. The reason why he came here is that we did not trust his chip to have rendered him sterile. I was hoping he'd get along with my spayed female, but no way. My male group did not do the trick either, even if they had been through several successful introductions. The third possibility was a couple of pre-pubertal males. I made an attempt when the Fibre boys were past 200 g. The only way Humle wanted to interact with other rats was by pinching their skin, pulling it or stepping on them, all the time. For some reason he was happy to meet other rats with a grille between them, so Humle was happily sniffing the other boys through the bars of the Venezia cage which I'd split in two.

After only about three months Humle's chip was loosing effect. He started getting stroppy if the girls had been at the playground before him, and he aquired the characteristic flowery smell of Very Male Rat. I was considering a surgical spay, but then he had an urine test and tested positive for blood and proteines in the urine. Obviously, if he had kidney problems I did not want to put him through surgery. As he was on medications for a sprained foot at the time I meant to get a second urine test to determine if the urine markers prevailed. Meanwhile I made a second attempt to introduce him to the now past two months old Fibre boys. This time Humle managed to keep control of himself. Shortly after the successful introduction to my youngsters he was willing to accept the nearly two year old Mania and Olifants. From the on Humle lived with all the boys. For a while he looked slightly worried every time the young ones were wrestling. "One day they'll challenge me too!" I think he has realized that this may not come to pass after all. The young ones just think of him as a slightly dotty uncle, worthy of respect but no threath to their youthful power.

At 19 months Humle started to move less sprightily. He used to jump from the play area over to his cage and climb down to the open hatch when he felt he had had a decent break. He waddled low, supporting his weight on his heels - a veritable picture of an elderly male. He lost some of his rex fur on the neck, and whatever was left of it on the rump is rather threadbare. Up to his last day I often found him in the uppermost hammock with the other boys. When I discovered a small lump under his armpit I knew he probably had a mammary tumor. For a while it grew quite slowly, then suddenly the growth accelerated. He was not in a great shape so I bade him farewell rather than putting him through an operation.

Sarah's Victoria

(from Sarah's African rivers litter), born 2008-12-30, euthanized 2011.03.29 because of mammary tumor. In the picture she is nearly 5 months old.
Victoria was re-homed to me on May 27.th 2009. According to the previous owner she was a sweet and healthy girl. When I learned to know her better, I would add energetic, contact seeking and determined. If my skirt swished near the cage as I walked past, she used to grabs hold of it and tell me she could do with some attention. This girl certainly knew how to get a cuddle. She used to groom me in return but in her old age she just slipped under my sweather and started bruxing. Victoria used to resides with Hiro and Birk, my castrates, and her sister Benue. The last months of her life she lived with Elvira and Nola.

At 13 months she was easily introduced to the two Wistar girls, who were then just under 3 months old. She caused no problems at all during introductions to her nephews and nieces. Victoria was also well behaved during introductions to the young adults Elvira and Nola.

When Victoria was 16 months I could put the visiting RatRace's "Duffy" Chilli straight into her cage after a brief table introduction. Unfortunately Victoria reacted badly to Duffy's (imaginary?) pregnancy. I had to separate the two because Victoria interpreted the pregnant rat as a contender for Top Rat position. She developed a false pregnancy herself and started bothering her brother's mate. A few days after Duffy left, she met all of Merete's rats. Her hormones were still up, but after a few days things subsided and the 6 girls got on well enough in the Essegi cage. She had an ongoing quarrel with Helen about leadership, though. At the second visit she and Helen seemed to have worked it out. Fortunately she did not react to Helle's false nor real pregnancy the way she did to "Duffy"'s.

Victoria was never ill. Around Christmas time 2009 she had two small wound infections that disappeared after a bout of antibiotic salve. The dry winter air brought a rash in December 2010 which responded well to Fuciderm gel. Two weeks shy of her second birthday I noticed that she has a suspicious looking mammary lump. It is probably a tumor: firm and with a lumpy surface. In a month it had grown from a small disk the size of only grape sized. At the end of Mars 2011 the growth accelerated, a second lump had appeared, and her first lump was starting to bother her.

Sarah's Mania

(from Sarah's African rivers litter), born 2008-12-30 euthanized 2011-03-29 because of HLD, blindness, weight loss and heavy breathing. In the picture he is just under 12 months old. Mania was a top eared, black self with a few white toes.
He was always the smallest of the brethen. Because of his small stature he never really competed with Afrik and Olifants for the Alpha position. Not until he became a father, that is. I believe took over peacefully then, with Afrik ailing. I always used to think of him as an Omega rat, not a Beta, because of his behaviour when he met another adult male briefly several times at roughly 9 months. He did not cause any damage to the other and bigger rat, but he was keen to test his limits. Hence I was not surprised he should grab the power when he had an interest to protect. At four months he was successfully introduced to an adult castrate. At 13 months he was introduced to a two year old intact male. The guest rat had lost all his cagemates and needed a mate and Mania was temporarily re-located to his breeder and owner of his new companion. On the 5.th of June he slid right back with his brothers after several months' absence. Introducing him to his own rat kittens was no problem at all. He also behaved well at nearly two years old during introduction to the nearly 17 month old Humle.

Mania was less boisterous than Afrik was, but not as calm as Olifants. He would sit, or lie, quite happily while being cuddled, and sometimes he came asking for one-to-one attention. Getting 50% of Sarah's attention rather than one fifth of mine has quite spoiled him! He came back a lot more eager for caresses than when he left.

Mania developed a very slight upper respiratory noise just before he returned from Sarah. I had him examined by a vet, but his lungs were not affected, his heart was fine, and besides, the noises stopped without medical intervention a few days after the visit to the vet. At roughly 22 months the noises became permanent. During his last few months there were several occations when I thought he had had it, though not for respiratory problems. His appetite was periodically failing him, and the hind leg degeneration were worse some days than others. He always seemed to bounce back, but when he turned blind and probably somewhat confused and startet breathing heavily too I drew the line. It was the right thing to do: the autopsy showed one pus-filled lung. When Olifants failed to sire a litter Mania was substituted as the stud in a mating with Helle Wistar. First time yielded no result. The second was a success!

Sarah's Olifants

(from Sarah's African rivers litter), born 2008-12-30, euthanised 20011-01-31 because of joint pains and side effects of treatment. In the picture he is 24 months old. Olifants was a top eared, poor black mismarked hooded.
Olifants was the most laid back of all my rats. But he was also the strongest. When he was little I was worried that he might be ill, because he became such a mass of putty in my hands. I did not think it was natural in a rat pup. Eventually I realized it was natural for Olifants to have all the resistace of jelly when I picked him up. He earned the nickname "Slappfisk" which is untranslatable. A "slappfisk" is a fish that has gone soft, but withouth the connotations of a big stink. It may be applied to anyone in the flower of youth who have little inclination for physical activity.

Olifants eventually became the leader of the mischief, after being second in command to Afrik for a long time. He took over as Alpha after Max quite peacefully, and gave in to Afrik just as peacefully some time later. At that time Afrik had the advantage of weight on him. It did not change back when Olifants grew fatter. Afrik was first to the food bowl, and first to the cage door, but when they tumbled I never knew who would win. Frankly I don't think they cared! They seemed to do it for fun. When Afrik's hind legs became weak, however, Olifants was quick to take his place. Then Olifants had healt problems himself and Mania rose to the top.

Olifants never had any signs of illness until he was 20 months. He then developed a small, wart-like structure between his eyes, gained 100 g in a very short time in spite of dietary restrictions and seemed to lack energy. I am guessing that the small lump is a papilloma which is not that uncommon in elderly, male rats. As the wart virus can be passed to other rats he was treated (by the vet's advice) with methylene blue. It successfully shrunk the wart. At rougly 22 months he was treated for a swollen hind leg with antibiotics and steroides. The swelling was believed to be caused by being stuck in the cage wall, because he had abrations on his foot. Unfortunately, when the steroides ran out both hind legs swelled again, and so did his front legs. Oliphants probably had rheumatic disease. He received a new dose of steroids by depot injection, but the steroids made him a victim of bumblefoot. He also gained more weight, when weight loss would be more appropriate, and once developed paraphimosis. Both may have been side effects of the steroide treatment. When his joint pain returned for a third time it was time to say goodbye.

At four months he was successfully introduced to an adult castrate. At approximately 9 months I was very pleased with his behaviour when he met an adult guest rat several times for free range time. At 13 months he was equally placid when introduced to an intact two year old male. At 17 months he made no fuzz at all when his brother Mania was re-introduced to his group after a several month long absence. He has also met with other adult males at their home turf withouth incident. At roughly 22 months he was introduced to his nephews. He immediately turned into the perfect play uncle and chastises them only if they get too uppity (like, stealing his food...) At nearly two years old he went through another smoot introduction, this time to the nearly 17 months old Humle.

Olifants was mated to RatRace's Chilli "Duffy" twice and twice to Helle Wistar. At each instance the female appeared to become pregnant, but nothing ever came of it. As Helle later became pregnant with Mania it is possible that Olifants has low fertility.

Sarah's Benue

"Mimmi" (from Sarah's African rivers litter), born 2008-12-30, euthanized 2010-11-18 because of multiple abscesses. In the picture she is 8 months old.
Mimmi was re-homed to me on August 30.th 2009 on my suggestion. She was suspected of causing minor injury to her cagemates. She also engaged in barbering the smallest of them. Fortunately she fitted right in with her sister and the two big castrates. There was not much opportunity for playing dominatrix to them. She shared their hammock on her first night in a new house. Benue was an active and contact seeking rat when she came here. As she aged she became much less active, and although she accepted being petted she rarely sekt me out during free range time. She prefered the company of her fellow rats. Her main problem seemed to be that she sometimes became hormonal when in heat. This ended before she was a year old. She behaved very well with the three months old snow princesses. She also behaved well during proper introductions to Merete's rats a few months later, and she was extremely patient and tolerant during her meetings with the too dominant Humle. To see her with her young nephews and nieces was pure joy. She obviously doted on them, and they on her.

Benue had clear lungs but she sometimes made quite loud nasal noises for short periods. She developed symmetrically swollen and tender udders at 14 months. The vet thought it might be mastitis but when Baytril did not work a hormonal problem seemed more likely. The swelling and tenderness waxed and vaned. At times she was definitely a bit under the weather because of it, so a spay was arranged. The swellings subsided for a while and then started growing back. The biggest one was possibly a cyst I was told. The others were thought to be mammary tumors. The growth was slow and the lumps did not cause her any trouble for many months. She started looking old and tired, though, so I did not want to put her through another operation. Some of the lumps actually shrank after the spay. She saw a vet (actually, three different vets!) five times about the lumps during her last seven months, but it was only at autopsy that the true reason for her failure to thrive and the lumps was discovered. She was suffering from several subcutaneous and one internal pyogenes abscesses.


Sarah's Afrik

(from Sarah's African rivers litter), born 2008-12-30, euthanized 2010-11-18 for failure to thrive and signs of pituitary tumor. In the picture he is just under 12 months old. Afrik was an agouti top-eared self with much orange-red in his coat.
All his life Afrik was the most contact seeking of the brothers. He was a lot like his sister Victoria. In fact, I jokingly described him as my "girl substitute", before his sisters came to live with me. Approaching a year he became much calmer than formerly. He kept being a fun rat to watch, though. Afrik tended to move in sudden bursts of energy and seemed quite carefree.

When younger, Afrik wanted to become the new Alpha, but lost the position to Max. Then Oliphants had a go and Max gave up gracefully. About two months later Afrik had gained weight and influence. Olifants started sleeping alone. It was a very quiet transition of power. Occationally he'd tumble with Olifants, and I never knew who would win. It did not seem to matter to them at all! After Mania became a father I suspect Afrik of loosing the Alpha position. At first Mania's balls grew, and one day he refused Afrik to enter a tightly packed cranny during free range time. They were very quiet about it, though. Then Afrik gained weight and Mania lost weight, and Afrik seemed to be back in the high backed chair. It lasted only a little while before his hind legs became weak.

Afrik started making nasal noises fairly early with no other signs of disease. Interestingly the noises were much reduced after he became Alpha. Then they disappeared alltogether several months ago. In Demeber 2009 he developed some kind of superficial abrasion or excema on the base of his tail. It came and went. I treated it with skin care creams and moisturising the air. According to tests the Fucidine ointment ought to get rid of the infection - which it surely did. Unfortunately it did not get rid of the irritation. For the best part of a year he needed ointment to keep the skin from going sore and red. For most of the time he was on Mildisone cream 2-3 times a week. Just before 19 months he damaged his tail and needed a tail tip amputation. Before the operation he was tested for diabetes and kidney disease with urine stix, and examined for abnormal heart or lung noises. Fortunately he was given the all-clear. When Afrik had just turned 21 months I discovered a small lump under his belly. I suspected a mammary tumor and kept an eye on it, but it grew slowly. At autopsy it was found to be a lipoma.

Afrik did not linger long when he lost the power of his hind legs. Within days he developed problems with his front paws and with eating solid foods. It was clearly progressive and almost certainly a pituitary tumor.

Afrik was successfully introduced to an adult castrate when he was 4 months himself. He behaved well enough towards a guest rat at roughly nine months, but the meetings were too short and scarce to count as a proper introduction. Then he had a renewed chance to show his quality at 13 months. Afrik was introduced to a two year old, reasonably fit former alpha who had lost his last cagemate 1 1/2 months previously. In June 2010 he easily accepted his brother Mania back in the cage after an absence of several months. He also met other adult males at their home turf without incident. His last introduction was to his young nephews. One day they met at the usual play are. The next day the little ones moved in with uncles and dad. All I did was fill up the food bowl and put the babies inside the grown-ups' cage. None of the three river boys had ever shown cage aggression, and they weren't about to start with relatives.


R.I.P. Hiroshima

(from Intet's Japanese towns-litter), black eyed himalaya, standard coated, top eared, born 2008-07-25 euthanized 2010-05-29 because of probable heart failure and possibly pneumonia. (No autopsy performed.) On this picture he is around 4 months old.
Hiroshima, or Hiro for short, was a playful young rat who actively sekt out his humans. He was longer of body than the three days older playmate Max. He used to be slightly more scared of my large veteran bucks. Still he quickly learned to seek protection behind Mimer's broad back. After three days he could move into the Venezia cage with the rest of the gang. Hiro seemed to be getting over his hormones, and, to all appearances became a lazy and calm buck like most males do. Unfortunately he also lazily and calmly bullied other rats around him. He did not hurt them much, but he did draw blood on several occasions. Hiro was castrated in March 2009 and has been re-introduced to his group. In spite of being a castrate he became Alpha for a while. Then he resideded with Benue, Victoria, and Birk for a while. Toward the end of his life he spent half his day with the calmer boys, and half with the groomer girls, which seemed to suit him well.
Two weeks after the castration Hiro developed a large abscess on his abdomen. The abscess was surgically drained and did not seem to be connected to the castration as such. Unfortunately, one week later Hiro had antoher abscess at the anestetic injection site. He was treated with antibiotics and baths (and lots of TLC) as the vet did not wish to risk a third operation and another injection site infection. Frankly the vet did not have much hope for him, but fortunately Hiro pulled through!

At just over a year and a half Hiro started making a new sort of noises that may be a form of communication. They are quite loud and seem to indicate that he is relaxed and content. They sound quite a bit like the noises Haku used to tell other rats and me that he would like some company. He may have develope a urinary problem. He peed more, and sometimes his belly was wet when I pick him up. He was getting old but I reconed he still had months of cuddles left in him. Then he developed breathing problems which came and went. The first time I took him to the vet for it nothing was found. Three weeks later he obviously had water in his lungs, and his heart sounds weren't too good either. The antibiotics made no difference so when he took a turning for the worse it was time to en his life.

This rat is turned into a good lap-rat, but he also liked to ride on my shoulder. For some reason his fur was much coarser than that of the other bucks. This, however, changed after the castration when it became softer.


R.I.P. Max

(from Kikkys rescue action), black self(?), standard coated, dumbo eared, born 2008-07-22 euthanized 2010-02-19 because of pain and personality change due to heart disease and respiratory problems. Here he is roughly three months old.
Max came to our house because I needed a companion for Hiro. For the time being he is carrying out his duty to my full satisfaction! He introduced himself to me by climbing out of his cage and onto my hand as soon as I had brought him home. He wass less afraid of the older rats than Hiro, and extremely inquisitive.
Max as a young rat was very, very sweet both with people and with other rats. He was the perfect rat for new introductions, being unafraid and unassuming. Max also looked well after new baby rats. His favourite activity was always playing with my hair.

Because Max was such a sweet guy at introductions I probably wore out his patience with difficult cases. Later in life, Max had less patience. He did not bite but did start to show dominance over smaller rats by pulling the skin on their necks. Just over a year old Max calmed down for a proper cuddle. He always liked to run around inside my sweater, but before that he would rarely lie still. His only fault as a pet was his extremely pointed claws which would start to prick my neck unpleasantly only two days after each cutting. Interestingly, shortly before he turned one year old, Max's claws became more blunt. This made carrying him around much more pleasant!

Max has noises coming from his upper respiratory airways. He did not seem bothered by it. As a matter of fact he used to be much more active than the old boys, and even than Hiro. Just as he turned one year he seemed a bit poorly. He had a swollen testickle, but as it is neither discoloured nor painful the vet said: "wait and see"...I did, and the swelling subsided. Then it returned only to disappear again. For a while he seemed well enough. Then he developed porhyrin stains around his eyes and became somewhat lethargic. I knew something was wrong, but his pee was normal, he was not short of breath, did not object to being squeezed and prodded all over and had no lumps I could find. His body temperature seemed normal all over. Although there were sign of muscle waisting I saw no hind leg paralysis and his forelegs were fine. When he became extemely grumpy with his cage mates I still knew something was definitely up. Metacam made him more agreeable, but it was not a permanent solution. I knew he was in pain for at least parts of the day in spite of the Metacam. He would not eat before his daily dosage of medicine had taken effect, and his coat became coarse and dry. There was also weight loss. The autopsy showed cardiomyopathy (mainly hypertrophic) affecting the lungs so that he had less than half lung capasity left.


R.I.P. Birk

(from Adyssa's litter No. 17,) Black Self, standard coated, top eared, born 2007-10-09 euthanized 2010-01-22 because of hind leg paralysis and general failing health. He was nine months old when the picture was taken.

At first, Birk thought the other rats were an imposing and frightening lot. He had a point. The not even two months older Mimer was more than 5 times as heavy, when Birk arrived... Even so it took only a day before the little rascal started playing with Mimer and Pip. And two nights before he could move in with the other six males.

When Birk joined the group, Frodo was very keen to show that he was not the underdog anymore. He also wanted to practice Ulf's bullying tactics on somebody smaller than himself. It frightened the whit out of Birk too. But not for long! Birk was far too inquisitive and resilient to be put down for more than a short while. One month later Birk was fully acclimatized and was not going to take it anymore. Suddenly Frodo was the one lying on his back and begging for mercy (which Birk regally bestowed). Birk continued to work his way up the ladder, one step at the time. Then Frodo hit some kind of late puberty and the cage became very noisy for a while! Later he calmed down enough to greet civilly another grown re-homed rat who came to stay with us. I thought I had seen the worst of it, but I was wrong. As Birk was approaching his first birthday I heard an increase in the number of disputes from the cage. Frodo was clearly involved and I thought he was the main rat behind it. One day I returned home to the sound of a rat fight carrying all the way down the stairs. I reached the cage just in time to see Birk pushing Yggdrasil off a hammock. Birk was unscathed, but he had marked Yggdrasil with a long cut on the shoulder. For a while Birk ended up in a solitary cage. He was successfully re-introduce to his old cage - without his balls.

Birk started out being an attention seeker with humans. Nothing beat being carried around in the hook of the arm or on the shoulder. Well, actually, inside the sweater was even better. He still hangs around the cage opening, begging to come out. And no other rat bestowed his kisses more lavishly on me. Well, except for maybe his brother. They were a courteous duo!

Birk had no health troubles until two weeks after I discovered a tumor on Skorpan. Then I found a small, hard lump on Birk too. Birk was quickly operated on. Unfortunately the vet told me his tumor was probably malignant. It had caused changes to the skin above and was full of pigmented material. Birk had also developed what my vet referrs to as "asthmatic breathing". It did not seem to bother him much, but something was not quite right. He was slowly withdrawing from the world. I thought he'd had it when I found a small lump in his armpit right where his brother had his tumor. The lump disappeared, then returned and eventually reached, almost, the size of a marble when Birk was two years old. But Birk trundled on. He seemed to have a happy and carefree life up until two days before he was euthanized. Together with his hind leg paralysis he suffered pain, heavy breathing and a sudden onset urinary tract infection.


R.I.P. Jonathan

(from Adyssa's litter No. 17,) black European Berkshire, standard coated, top eared, born 2007-10-09 2009-06-29. On the picture he is roughly 13 months old.

Jonathan, or Castro as he was known for parts of his life, was re-homed twice with his brother before ending up with me on the 2008-11-01. See R.I.P. Skorpan below for details. Jonathan was the bigger of the brothers, at any rate the bigger of my three... though during his last months he lost weight, and Birk was the heavier. According to the people in his first re-home he got along better with his new cage mates than Skorpan did. Unfortunately he followed his brother's lead in fighting and bullying when they were together. The two brothers ended up in a cage of their own so that Skorpan would not have to be alone. I started introduction Jonathan to little Max who was four months old, and to big Mimer. No rats were harmed in the experiment, but neither did the rats make any overtures towards socializing. After two weeks without progress I tried the Brothers Lionheart with Ulf. After a very good start where Ulf laid down beside the two to sniff and be sniffed, and a peaceful interlude, Jonathan just snapped and bit Ulf across the back for no apparent reason.

Jonathan was a squishy sucker for contact. As his brothers he is eager to lick my hands and clean my nails. He hangs perfectly slack when I pick him up. Until Skorpan was castrated both the Brothers Lionheart had too much ants in their pants to become perfect lap-rats. Two weeks later I could caress them in tandem while watching TV and having my fingers licked. I was reluctant to castrate Jonathan. I did not want him to become as frightened as Skorpan did. Unfortunately he started biting Skorpan too. Jonathan lost his balls on December 19.th, and has been quite docile since. Unfortunately he does not tolerate any adult bucks at all. He was fine with Max until the latter reached his hormonal stage. Then he refused to see any other rats. He was even terrified of the baby River rats. Until one day when the River boys were just over 5 1/2 months old, curiosity or loneliness got the better of him. You can read about the long introduction process under Behaviour therapy and rat stories. Eventually he learned to live with his brother Birk.

Less than a month after Skorpan and then Birk had tumors, the third one showed up in Jonathan. Because my vet thought the lymph might be involved I followed her advice and brought Jonathan home for treats and comforts here at Matmor's Hospice. For several months he is enjoying every moment of attention. He was not that old, but his age, or disease, was telling. With the aid of an antibiotic he recovered srom an urinary infection. He continued to have proteinuria and a high lymphocyte count. His energy just faded away. Weightloss and muscular atrophy were expected, but for the last few days of his life Jonathan withdrew from his cagemate, had piloerection, and became confused. Still, to the last he was bruxing in my arms and licking salt off my skin.

Either Jonathan, Skorpan or both fathered an un-planned litter with the doe Nusse (black hooded) in their former home. The litter was born 2008- and produced

(The Irish must be a phenotype with a European Berkshire genotype.) According to the former owner, one of the two brothers then managed to inpregnate another of her does three weeks later. I was not convinced of their second litter - the owner described them on her web page as "14 hooded" pups. However, after I had explained basic probability to the owner, the description was changed to "14 hooded and berkshire" pups. If that is correct, I must believe that it was one of the Lionheart Knights that had pointed his lance for this litter too.

R.I.P. Mimer

(from Babbett,) mink, ruby eyed, standard coated, top eared, born 2007-08-16, euthanized 2009-04-24 because of kidney failure. Here he is 7 months old.
According to the registration papers Mimer was a Mink Berkshire, but the uneven colours at his sides makde me wonder if there was a bit of his father's variegated genes peeping through. Let's just call him Mink mismarked something. Or rather, Havana mismarked Berkshire. At first I thought that his eyes may be a sign he is actually a Mock mink, but appearantly there is no Mock mink that we know of in his family tree. He had ruby eyes as a baby but they soon turned black. On December 7.th Mimer was treated to a holiday fling with Safari. Their litter - 11 pups - was born 2008-12-30. Three of the boys came home with me! (Later two of the girls were re-homed to me.)

Mimer started out being the baby that noone in the cage could resist. He play fought delightedly with everyone in turn when he was not sleeping or sitting in the food bowl. And he grew, and he grew, at an alarming rate. Coming home from a week-end trip, I discovered that somebody had taken a bite at his fur. The days grew intense while Ulf and Yggdrasil discovered: "Help! The baby is not a baby anymore!". Mimer and Labben eyed each other carefully and gnawed their wooden house to bits. Eventually Mimer learned his place. Since then I had no trouble from him. He accepted several adult second hand and visitor rats without a fight. At first I thought he was biding his time and waiting to outgrow the alpha. And boy, did he put in an effort for growth! But one day he stopped overeating, lost 50 grams in two weeks and gave Labben his due respect. His ambitions surfaced as Labben became wobbly on his feet. For a long while I did not know which rat had grabbed the Alpha position. Mimer hardly involved himself in any fights. He was just there, big and heavy. It seemed to me as if he had a calming influence on everyone. He may have had his moment as Top Rat, but evidently preferred the Beta role. Then Yggdrasil seemed to lose interest in the Alpha position. Mimer emerged as the new leader. Without doubt he was the easiest buck I've introduced to other rats. New adult males or baby rats, Mimer's fur remained unruffled for as long as he was a Beta. When he became Alpha he had a position to defend, but he remained an extremely easygoing rat at introductions. I do not know who is the new Alpha. It seems to me the "oldies" are simply making a joint effort to raise Mimer's sons to maturity so that one of them can take over the throne.

Mimer was a big buck with a tendency to put on weight. I managed to keep him at around 700g for a good while without food restrictions by not feeding him treats and not too frequent introductions. When the Brothers Lionheart arrived shortly after Mimer became Top Rat his weight immediately rose to a personal record. He reacts to status struggles with overeating. Then he went on a diet. During the ruckus with Frodo and Birk Mimer received a number of scratches and tears that caused abscesses. Otherwise he had no health concerns until about two weeks after being mated. Then he developed asthma triggered by some of the food pellets in his feed mix. In February 2009 Mimer was diagnosed with kidney problems. He was put on a low protein, low salt diet. It worked well for a while and then went quickly downhill.

Mimer looked happy and perfectly at ease, and he had a healthy appetite for Life. He LOVED people. For a cuddle he prefered having his sides vigorously scratched and massaged. It was unusual for him to groom me as a return favour. Occasionally he'll lick my hand or nose, but to me it seemed as if he reserves it for special occasions. Mimer noticed when I was not feeling well, you see!


R.I.P. Skorpan

(from Adyssa's litter No. 17,) black American Berkshire, standard coated, top eared, born 2007-10-09 euthanized 2009-01-21 for cancer and (unrelated) stomack pains. In this picture he is around 13 months old.

Skorpan moved in with us 2008-11-01. It was his third re-homing. He (also called Che) and his brother Jonathan (Castro) were first sold to someone who could only keep them for four months because of allergies in the family. Then they stayed for 4 1/2 months in their next home. For a while things were looking good. Then there were conflicts between the Lionheart brothers* and the other pair of brothers already living there. The owner could not handle having two cages. Hence Skorpan and Jonathan were re-homed a second time. There they stayed for about three months until the owner fell ill and could not cope anymore. It was at this point I decided to give the brothers a permanent home. With a little (a lot, actually) help from my friends the rats were picked up and relayed to a place where I could get to them.

One particularly endearing thing about these two brothers was that they learned their names very quickly. All my other rats believe their name is "Food!". Skorpan and Jonathan had not been called by these names since they left their breeder at five weeks. And yet, after only a couple of weeks, I could call one of them by name, and he would come to me. The other one would not stir from the rat house until I called him too.

As befits Skorpan he is smaller than Jonathan. In the beginning the was the most timid, too. This all changed during their first re-homing. Skorpan became a rat who provoked and bullied his new cage mates, according to the owner. The conflicts escalated to bloodshed and wounds. Against humans and his brother he was the sweetest rat, though. He was putty in my hands when I picked him up. After only a few days in his new home he has stopped scent marking when he visits the rat playground with fresh smell on it. He did not misbehave when introduced to little Max, but on the third day he decided to fight it out with Mimer. In a twinkling of an eye Mime had a bite wound across his back, which means that Skorpan had to lose his balls before we tried again. After the castration he has become a very frightened rat. Meeting Mimer with a grudge, and Max suddenly in his hormonal stage was 'way too scary. He got along much better with Ulf. That is, untill Jonathan bit Ulf, and Ulf started associating being bitten with Skorpan... I was on my way to re-introducing Skorpan to Max when I had to put Skorpan down.

*The Brothers Lionheart, book by Astrid Lindgren featuring the two brothers "Skorpan" ("Rusky") and Jonathan


R.I.P. Ulf

Black Berkshire, standard coated, top eared, born 2007-01-26, euthanised 2008-12-11 because of a respiratory infection.
Ulf was a re-homed rat which we were fortunate to receive from a temporary home. He was almost four months old when he came to us. He came from a Norwegian breeder, apparently from Nittedal, but was bought in the pet shop at Storo Storsenter in Oslo.

Ulf was a real sucker for attention who liked to lie in my lap when he had spent his energy with the other rats first. He did not groom me much, but he lounged luxuriously and bruxed while looking me lovingly into the eye... My Wolfie, my Whitechin, my minuature dog and Valium for the soul. He had a hard time being moved around the way he was when young. Adjusting to other rats was a major hurdle. He had been a lone rat until he came to stay with us. Fortunately things worked out well! It was great to see him in his favourite hammock, tail entwined with one of the other boys.

Ulf took over as Alpha when Squeek grew too old to defend his position. One month late he lost it again, no drama involved, to Labben. There was even a short period when he and Labben seemed to rule on alternate days, and no foul. Then he accepted that he could not compete with the joint effort of two brothers that were both bigger than him. He has not tried to wrestle with Mimer for the Alpha role. Eventually he became perfectly content with being a Beta. Ulf had a tendency to bully timid rats, both smaller and larger than himself. He meant no harm, though. He just did not quite understand this thing about personal space, and he became terribly excited by the sound of a frightened rat! When he met a happy-go-lucky rat pup he was at his best. He had not forgotten how to play, and he would quite happily let the youngster chase him and walk all over him. Neither did he cause any problems during the introduction of the now deceased adult males Alucard and Haku.

For his first year in our house Ulf had no health troubles, apart from frequent loose stools. They were kept (mostly) at bay with Zoolac (live bacteria) and feed restrictions. Interestingly the problem disappeared after a cure for mites. Perhaps an intestinal infestation was his problem. At 16 months Ulf started making funny nasal noises. It was an on and off thing for nearly a month. Each time I decided to see the vet about it the noises disappeared. A course of Baytril beat the noises back but did not prevent them from returning within days afterwards. As he did not seem ill I decided to leave it at that, and only threat flare-ups. Halfway through his third round of Baytril I realized the war was lost. He developed a swelling in the face under his left eye and his breathing grew laborious. I sat up with him one long and heartbreaking night being only partially successful in calming down my stressed-out favourite. When he had his shot, he was ripe for it.

At nearly two years old, age had reduced the formerly sleek body of his to a pear shape. He developed a tendency to overeat and probably had diabetes. His fur was growing sparse on his back and the coat became distinctly wooly. In addittion to the respiratory troubles, Ulf had a large abscess, or possibly infection in a preputial gland, and a couple of fight wounds during his time. These healed up well before his death, though. You can read more about how The Fenris Wolf was tamed at Behaviour therapy for rats. He was 7 1/2 months old when the picture was taken.


R.I.P. Yggdrasil

(registered as Oden, of Babbett, the brother of Labben), a Black Self, standard coat, top eared buck born 2007-03-14 euthanised 2008-11-28. Yggdrasil started out as a somewhat slimmer copy of Labben. He remained a little lighter, but "muscular" soon became a better description than "slim". He was a little less outgoing with strangers than his brother was. In the beginning he was also slightly more boisterous in his play fighting than Labben. Then he became the chief climber rat who would clamor for my shoulder. With age a new calm has set in and he no longer climbed all over me. He did not become not so lazy he stopped running to the cage door, though. He liked to lay in my lap for a scratch and to be petted. After a while he would return the favour. Unlike what his brother did, he never minded if the other rats could see it.

Yggdrasil did not have any health problems until he was 14 months old. Then my daughter discovered a lump on his shoulder. Fortunately the tumor was still small, operable - and, according to the biopsy, benign! Moreover, it appeared to be a rare type of tumor that is unlikely to affect his siblings or their offspring. Yggdrasil's operation scar has healed well. Unfortunately he had a severe reaction to the injected anesthetic. When his fur grew back in, the spot over the injection site was all white. But Yggdrasil was not done with cancer. In mid November I noticed that his fur was puffed and that he was lying alone a lot. An examination turned up a possible lump on his lowest left rib, but when he twisted in my hands I could not find it again. Next week I had no problems detecting a thickening of the rib. Moreover, the vet found a lump in his belly, well hidden to the outside. I took him home to administer painkillers and give him the best possible care. Two days later it was eviden that the painkillers were not powerful enough. Yggdrasil was sent by express to meet his brother over the rainbow bridge.

Yggdrasil started as the Omega of the cage. He became Beta when Labben grew into the Alfa position. Actually, during the power struggle between Ulf and Labben, Yggdrasil was Beta under both. Then Yggdrasil was a kind of second-in-command to Labben, and their leadership was clearly a team effort. He retained his role as his brother's helper when Labben became unfit to rule, and later mourned his brother quite heartbreakingly. He lost his will to fight and just seemed to shrink. After Frodo and Birk have left the cage, Yggrdasil accepted the position as the new Alpha for a while. Then he sort of left it to Mimer. He never fully regained his interest in the world around him.

Yggdrasil is the only rat I have had so far that liked to swim! His favourite pool was a bowl of luke warm water with rose leaves... This is what he looked like 6 months old.


R.I.P. Frodo

Husky with husky eyes, standard coated, top eared, born within a few days of 2007-06-30, euthanised 2008.09.02 for anxiety and aggression. Here he is just over 2 months old.

Frodo was the last remaining pup from an accidental litter. His mother was a top eared, standard coated husky and the father a hairless, top eared buck. Both were approximately 8 months old. The litter consisted of 2 female and all of 11 male rats. If all of them were cuter than Frodo, it must have been some litter! All the pups were huskies just like their mum. She came from an unknown private breeder in Sandefjord. The father was bought in a pet shop.

Frodo started life as a born contestant for the Squeaker of the year-award. He developed countless phobias that he had to be nursed through. In between he did have good days, but it took so little to unbalance him!

At the age of 9 months Frodo had a personality change. In some ways this was an advantage. He was not quite so scared anymore. On the other hand he grew far more dominant. He climbed ranks in a way much more common in puberty than in an adult rat. He and the three to four months younger Birk seemed to have a burst of hormones at the same time. Things grew complicated. The need to challenge other rats appeared to pass quickly, but as he approached his first birthday he headed in the wrong direction. He developed food aggression and became so grumpy and provoking to the other rats that he had to live in a cage of his own. I could just barely keep him together with Mimer, Ulf, and Yggdrasil at free range time. Unfortunately Frodo was not cut out for a lone rat. It only led to more anxiety and aggression. You can read more about Frodo's tragic journey into the Abyss of Fear at Behaviour therapy for rats.


R.I.P. Labben

(registered as Gendilf, of Babbett), a Black Berkshire, standard coated, top eared buck born 2007-03-14 euthanised 2008-07-09.

Labben was the first rat that was officially mine. The others belonged to the children. Even if I'm partial, Labben seemed a prime example of a fancy rat! Huge, healthy, handsome, and harmonic. Unfortunately, at 14 months Labben started having problems with his rear legs and one forepaw. He was put on high dose antibiotics and NSAIDs which did improve but not fully restore his climbing skills. A rat can live on for months with weak hind legs, but Labben started showing signs of pain. His once so sleek coat became ruffled, his formerly big open eyes became tired slits. He slept too much, kept to himself, and lost weight. I had him euthanised - too soon for my comfort, but not too soon for his.
Labben was not easy to rile, and he rarely slept alone in his hammock. He was easy to handle and contact seeking fellow. He used to come running to the cage door whenever I came near. With maturity came a more dignified approach. Being the Alpha he was the last one out even if he still came to the door quite speedily. With the partial hind leg paralysis he had good reason to move more slowly. Labben liked to go for a ride on my shoulder. I trained him to lie still in my lap and be stroked. He clearly enjoyed it when I picked or brushed loose hairs from his fur. In return he would clean my nails or lick my finger tips. Only while we were alone, mind you! He had this idea that cuddling his human was a bit wimpy and did not fit his image.

Labben started out as a typical Beta in my cage. When he'd grown close to 10% heavier than Ulf, he became Alpha without a struggle. He defended his position for about 10 months until his rear leg paralysis made him unfit. Even this transition was a bloodless one. I never saw Labben bite or claw another rat. Instead he would mate with or powergroom his adversary. As a rule he thought conflicts were a hassle. Apparently he left it to the Betas, and especially his next-in-command Yggdrasil to teach younger rats how to behave. The two brothers formed a team, just like Squeek and Pip did before them.


R.I.P. Haku

Black Berkshire (Irish?) top eared rex, probably from the B-litter of Himi-Zoo. If so he was born 2006.09.10. He died 2008.05.26. Haku was euthanised because of a fast growing malignant tumor on his neck. In this picture he is (probably) 1 year and 6 months old.

Haku came to us 2008.04.30. I had been told he was already over 2 years old, but the story that came with him did not seem to fit the advanced age. A bit of detective work at NTF's forum showed that the former owner had contacted Himi-Zoo about an unsold pup from the B-litter. That is why I believe he was born sometime in the night between the 8.th and 9. th of October 2006. According to the former owner he had had a number of health complaints already: broken his leg twice, being operated for a tumor once. According to the vet the tumor was due to straying mammary tissue. It was located on the outside of one hind thigh. He had also had an abscess in his neck. Possibly this abscess was the source of the malignancy that led to his demise.

Haku was re-homed because his owner became allergic to rats. Just before coming here he also lost his best rat mate, who had to be put down. As his other cage mate had been re-homed already, Haku became a lone rat. Clearly he needed a new home as quickly as possible. His former owner travelled by bus for several hours to deliver him herself. It was a great comfort that she got to see how kindly my other rats received him. Haku was a threat to no one, and preferred to sit quietly grooming himself or his fellow rats. His instincts told him to defend his cage, but as soon as he had shown token resistance reason set in. Dominant he was not! A big softie was a far better description.

Haku arrived on a Wednesday and moved in with the other six rats on Saturday morning. They did not even bother to pin him to the ground. That's what I call an easy introduction of grown males! I had been hoping that he and Frodo would become good friends. Frodo is happiest when he has a squishy old rat to sleep on. This was not to be. Even if placing Haku in their cage went well, three weeks of which he was ill for some of the time was not enough to have him fully integrated before he died. He did form a friendship with Ulf and Mimer. Labben, the Alpha, remained aloof and Haku was never quite permitted to approach him.

Haku was not particularly fond of petting, but he felt safe in my lap. There he liked to sit inside a blanket and be gently scratched. His eyes would start popping and bruxing would follow. What was really special about him, though, was his vocal communication. Haku spoke to me! He vocalised in a range detectable by human ears. His language consisted of a series of clicking, clucking and purring noises. If I did not understand all of it, it was at least evident to me when he wanted a cuddle and when he wanted to be left alone. I discovered that he sometimes called out to me as I was passing the cage. (And then I could not just pass, I had to give him the cuddle he wanted...) Otherwise he was the only one of my rats that had only one pet name: S°tnos (conceptually: Sweetie pie, literally, Sweet nose.)


R.I.P.Alucard

Alucard was a Black Hooded, standard coated, top eared oldie who was re-homed to us because his former owner could not afford veterinary care. Sadly but not unexpectedly the veterinary care he most needed was a gentle push across the Rainbow bridge. He was born July 2005 and was euthanised 2008.03.25 after only a week here.
Being re-homed at an age of 32 months is not an everyday occurrence. The introduction was even more easy than I had expected. Alucard did not care about status anymore and my other rats showed due respect to an elderly gentleman. He fitted right into the cage where he slept in a pile with the rest on the first night already.

In his old cage Alucard had at one time been the Alpha. Then he had yielded his position to a younger buck. According to his former owner he was rarely ill. An airway infection, once, was all there was. Considering his age he looked remarkably fit: not too thin nor too fat, and he still climbed the cage walls. Well, barely. He dragged his hind legs behind him. I soon realised there were other problems too... His front legs no longer served him well. I suspected a urinary infection. The urinary symptoms temporarily disappeared as he grew less stressed. He was not eating much, but at first I thought that was stress too. Then I discovered that he could not chew ordinary rat chow. I recognised his chewing problems and lacking foreleg coordination as signs of a pituitary tumor. He was not in pain, but I could not leave it until he was unable to swallow. The last 36 hours of his life he could only handle liquid food, and eating was soooo slow.

Alucard liked to be stroked gently along his head and neck. Then he would bruxe happily and his eyes would pop in and out. Each day was a gift. Eventually he ran lightly across the rainbow bridge. He fell asleep while I was petting him in wait for the veterinary appointment and barely awoke before the medication sent him into the land of his dreams.


R.I.P. Pip

Pip was a Black Hooded, standard coated, top eared castrated buck. He was euthanised because of a flagging quality of life and an airway infection on the 2007.12.03, well over 2 1/2 years old. Life just was not the same for an old and frail fellow after his brothers had died. He came to us from the Norwegian Society for Protection of Animals with his brothers Squeek and Ramses. Pip was born 2005.04.18 and was about 5 months old when he came to stay with us. In the picture he is 25 months old.
Pip liked people. He was not particularly obedient, and as he grew old his only interests were food and sleeping. But in his younger days he was the only really tame one of the brothers, and who sometimes came when we called. To his last day he would drag himself to the uppermost hammock inside the cage. Highlight of the week was after cage cleaning, when he would climb around trying out all the hammocks and sleeping places in turn, before he decided that the top one was still the favourite. With age he became the perfect petting pet who could lie forever being stroked and cuddled.

Pip could have used a diet. After his brothers started dying on him, he gained 250 g in a few months. But I cannot bring myself to impose tough food restrictions of a rat that has reached two years. If digging his grave with his teeth is his choice then so be it. We never thought we would get to keep him that long anyway. Pip had signs of circulation problems and diabetes for 8-6 months before he died, and weak hind legs for just as long. At the age of two he also had an abscess that emptied itself. Apart from that we did not know of any ailments, but the vet thought that his sudden appetite could be due to a slowly growing brain tumor.

Pip was always the perfect Beta. First for Ramses, then for Squeek. The only exception was when Squeek was Alpha and had back pains. For two weeks Pip held Ulf at bay while waiting for his brother to recover fully! Then he grew too old to care for status anymore, as long as he was left in peace. Even so he faithfully continued protecting Squeek and the youngest rats.


R.I.P. Squeek

Squeek was an Agouti Hooded, standard coated and top eared castrated buck, born 2005-04-18. He was euthanised 2007-10-09 because of failing blood circulation in a hind leg. In the picture he is 25 months old.
Squeek came to us 5 months old from the Norwegian Society for Protection of Animals, where he was born. His mum had been found outside in a cardboard box with a ballooning belly. He tolerated people more than he liked to be handled. In advanced age he was more approachable and stopped shivering all the time. He could even be persuaded to sit still for a cuddle. He was named for the sounds he made whenever someone tried to lift him. Or when one of the other rats played too roughly with him. Or if he wanted a snack that another rat had taken. He was simply a most verbal lump of wooly hair. He preferred to snuggle in the hammock with his brothers Pip og Ramses.

In spite of his complaints I believe he had a good life. Apart for a temporary back ache and an urinary infection he seemed of good health until the day he died. He entered a second youth when the rats from Babbett moved in. By the he had first tried to mourn himself to death over the demise of Ramses. The rat pups even got him to climb ropes again! But naturally advanced age was burdensome. He got that pear shaped body and lost muscular mass. The weight loss made climbing easier, so it was not all bad. Eventually it was plain that he did not have the full use of neither hind- nor forelegs. He could not walk along my arm anymore when I held it straight and still for him, nor could he grab tidbits with his hands. He had to go corn fishing with his teeth. From we noticed the coordination problems and until he was dead it was only a week.

Squeek was Omega for as long as Ramses lived. When the rat pups arrived he became the new Alpha, with the support of his brother Pip. Three fit and fearless teenage rats, however, became too much to handle for old Squeek. After a couple of weeks he gave up his position to the newcomer Ulf. You can read more about introducing Squeek to rat pups at Behaviour therapy for rats.


R.I.P.: Ramses

Black Hooded, standard coated, top eared castrated buck, born 2005-04-18, euthanised 2007-04-10. This picture was taken when Ramses was 20 months old.
Well, Ramses was Ramses. The biggest and strongest and most stubborn of the brothers. He could not stand being handled. The best way to catch him was to fetch the transport cage. Then he would usually get inside on his own to avoid being lifted. Even so we miss him. No rat could jump like him - until he lost the good use of his hind legs. No rat was as smart. Until his dead he was supreme ruler of the cage.

Ramses always thought about things before he did something new. You could tell how he would sit and plan how to get to the bath tub by the clothes bin and then the towel rack before the attempt. He missed his second birthday by a week only. He could still walk, but then he had an airway infection. When one course of antibiotics was not sufficient and he stopped eating, it was time to say goodbye.


Matmor, last changed 2013.05.16
Home page address: matmor.info