Friday, February 26, 2010

Sad news

We lost a rat the other day. Sunburst was pretty heartbroken about it. All the kids were. Me, too.

I'm not sure what happened, but I have a pretty good guess. After doing a bit of research online, I think what we thought were initial quirks turned out to be some kind of respiratory sickness. What we interpreted as cuddly and lazy was probably lethargy. All that noise she made when she was sleeping? Probably wheezing.

So she was sick when we got her... and we just didn't know better. Go us! Actually, I wasn't there when the rats were picked out, but Sunburst said that they weren't allowed to handle the rats at the store-- could be a language misunderstanding? It's hard to tell sometimes.

So now we're down to one-- just little Miss Pepper, who truth be told, has been sneezing since we got her. I read online that this is not a good sign either, but she's very energetic... so there's hope. If all goes well with her, we'll have to find her a new rattie friend to play with.

Rat death already... not what I had bargained for. That's for sure.


  1. Oh, I'm so sorry. It's so hard when an animal entrusted to your care dies.

    One of our rats tends to sneeze, too. I've decided that it's due to the dust from our perpetual remodeling projects. At least, I hope that's true. Okay, really, I'm almost always convinced that I'm going to walk in and find one of them dead or dying, since they seem like such fragile creatures taken individually (as opposed to collectively -- they seem impossible to get rid of collectively).

  2. I am so sad to hear that you lost one of your babies already :( I'm not sure which shop you bought your ratties at, but I would highly recommend finding a rat breeder in your area and adopt one from them (or from a shelter or rescue organization). The pet shops breed them just like puppy mills, so the conditions are poor and the rats sold there are often sick. 99% of fancy rats have that respiratory illness (mycoplasma), even those from breeders as it's just been infused through the decades (lab rats do not carry this, nor wild rats) and it's not contagious for humans, but what happens is that they have it and if they get a secondary infection, that sometimes kills them. Your rat probably had pneumonia from - my guess based on my research. Stress can also aggrevate their condition (I've known people who just moved houses and their rats died shortly after the move).

    If you look for a breeder, look for one that doesn't have too many litters going at once so the babies are well socialized and handled daily. Not sure how old your current rat is, but if they are past the baby/early juvie stage, you will have to quarantine and introduce slowly as some rats have personality clashes and might not get along. Usually introducing a baby is OK since they don't feel threatened and alpha status hasn't been challenged, but it should be done slowly (see forum for more about this - send an inquiry and they will help you out immediately). I'd also be happy to email you more about all this since we went through this process with our four boys, so feel free to contact me if I can help you out here.

    There's also a great book written by a local rat owner in California called "Rat Health Care" by Debbie 'The Rat Lady' Ducommun.

    Reputable breeders don't usually charge much for their rats or make money on them after their costs. We paid $10 each for two of ours and $25 and $20 for the other two. They mainly breed to keep their lovely lines going and charge so that people won't take them for free and feed their snakes with them :( They also only try to breed the healthiest rats so your chances of loosing one so quickly, like what you experienced, is lessened (but there are no guarantees, of course).

    My heart goes out to your daughter. Our guys sneeze daily, too, and we've had one on antibiotics for months when we first brought him home (the breeder we got him from was only 18 and had too many lines going, so he came to us a bit ill, too - live and learn). The antibiotics & vet visits ($300 later) did help at the time, but he hasn't been sounding great lately so I'm watching him closely. He got bad genes...sometimes they have weaker systems than others. Any sound you hear from the rat, other than their squeaking, isn't *normal*. I'd pay attention to how much red they get around their eyes and nose (they all seem to get some - but a lot can be a sign that something's off) and their energy level, along with the wheezing or grunting like sounds. Hold them up to your ear and listen to their chests. If you hear any wheezing, that is a sign. Ours does make grunting/low toned wheezing like sounds when he gets excited about food and it's not a good sign. Some need to be on lifetime doseages of antibiotics, and I think he's one of them, though we're trying to hold off so that his body doesn't get immune to the antibiotics. That is what the vet advised. Sad to say, they can go down very quickly.

    Good luck and please do feel free to contact me if you have any questions. If you haven't gone to the Jorats boards yet, I'd advise doing that. They were so helpful when we were going through all this with our Chaulky. Hugs, Jen

  3. I love your blog. It is so helpful and inspirational. I have started to blog our homeschooling blog: . I have one questions: how did you get the copyright on your blog? Thanks,

  4. Sorry to hear about your rat. It's awful when a pet dies, no matter how long you've had them. Best wishes

  5. Thanks for all your condolences, everyone. It means a lot to us.

    JVR, thank you. Anything you write or create is automatically copyright-- but, on the web a lot of people forget that. I found the copyright buttons here:

    Jen, THANK YOU so much! I can't even begin to tell you how much I appreciate your comment. Thank you for sharing all that information with us.

    I really wish we were in the States so we could go about finding a breeder and so forth. I'm sure someone is breeding them in Switzerland, somewhere-- but my language and ability to navigate this country is just too small to figure it all out in any decent time-frame.

    Prices here are a bit higher than US breeder prices. We paid $50 for our two at the pet store. Individulals go for $35. But then again, the prices of pretty much everything are kind of appalling.

    I've been pouring through the forums at Jorats (thank you!) and the articles at fancy-rats in the uk. They have been very helpful. In fact, we felt compelled to pick up a baby girl this past weekend-- and all is going well. More on that to come.

    Thanks again!


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