White rats story

As you might know in our house we have new guests – white lab rats. We named them Cukier and Puder (Sugar and Powder).

It’s a new adventure for them and for us, as they were not tamed when they came to us in a tiny cage hidden in a green bag. Volunteer from Viva! Gryzonie (Viva! Rodents Foundation) brought them all the way from Wroclaw, where they were rescued from the laboratory.

From what I have heard, in the laboratory female reproductive organs were cut out to be used in experiments. Rats themselves were unnecessary from that point, ending as a snake food or subjected to euthanasia. Definitely not a happy end.

When I saw information on Facebook that 50 rats were rescued from the laboratory I had that feeling, that spark of intuition telling me that this is the moment to build a new herd and start a new adventure.

I filled in adoption papers and not even two weeks later we welcomed two beautiful rats at home.

Since the girl was already neutered, we decided to take a boy and a girl. I know that mixed herds are not that popular for obvious reasons, but we really wanted to see how it will be to have a fluffy male, besides, neutered girls will probably find new homes much faster, when boys might not be that lucky.

Cukier and Puder

It’s completely a different experience to take a rat from the breeder and to adopt a rat with some history. Cukier and Puder are about 3 months old but they did not have had best experience with humans so far. Well, maybe humans were not even that bad, but tiny space in the cage shared with brothers or sisters, lab food and no free range were limiting for their curious brains.

When I put Cukier and Puder into their new cage at home, for the first 24h they drank two water containers, ate double food portion (after finding out how to hold it in their paws) and did not even realized that there are two more floors in the cage. They were scared and running away hearing even the smallest sound. Getting used to the cage took about four days. Rats figured out that they can climb, that the food won’t disappear so there is no need to eat it immediately, that there are two water containers and humans are not that scary.

After a week they started to use hammocks and walking outside of the cage. They still did not explored all the corridor that is prepared as a free range space. So far place behind the cage and top of the cage are their safe points.

Me and my hubby we are just sitting outside waiting if they will come to us. We are trying to take them onto hands only to take them our or put back into the cage. But we are giving them our hands to sniff and now ratties are starting to take food from our opened palms. At first I wanted to rush this process a little, but it was a mistake. They need time. With ratties from the breeder it was easier at the beginning, but they had a big cage, family members around and humans who were in contact with them since the day one. Rats from laboratory, on the new ground, with strange people as their new keepers, new food, space, simply have to many information and impulses they need to adjust to. Baby steps is the best approach.

Progress!

Besides, it’s so amazing to see their progress every day. From scared rats they used to be two weeks ago, they are starting to act like typical young ratties should – running around, fighting and doing a mess with paper towels and blankets. They are very curious and brave.

I observed that Puder is braver one and first to explore. From the other side Cukier is a food taster willing to do much more if he sees a snack at the end of a tunnel. They are supporting each other, cuddling and always trying to be close. Watching them is relaxing, funny and a good lesson too.

Again I am blessed with having a chance to be so close to these amazing creatures. I am a rat parent again!

 

 

Rats are gone

My rats are gone. It’s been half a year now.

At first, I thought this time was necessary to take just because of medical reasons. The herd was a carrier of bacteria pasteurella multocida, so quarantine was a must to guarantee health security for the next herd.

But when Olena passed away I had to finally faced a long-delayed grief and resentment. And it was many months later when I realized that those six months were also a time necessary for my soul.

Some people do not decide to never take care of rats again after such emotional period. But for me, from the beginning, it was obvious that I will again need rats in my life. Why? You would ask. Why every 2-3 years you want to go through sorrow? Why you want to spend your time in the line in veterinary clinic? Why after hard day of work, instead of taking some rest, you prefer to saw hammocks and cleaning up the cage?

I believe that every rat owner had to answer these questions at some point.

Rat life is short but ours too

Rats and my grandparents passing away at the same time, made me faced experience of grief and sorrow doubled, no, multiplied by 6. It was in veterinary clinic, just after I sad good bye to Lia, kissing for the last time her dead body, when my father called me saying that my grandfather is dead.

Few months later, when I was coming back from my grandmother funeral, I have found Osa in her cage after second stroke. I was going on foot through the city, in the middle of the night (streets were closed because of Obama president visit in Warsaw), holding the transporting box with my baby inside, trying to reach veterinarian…

Only Olena stayed with me, and bond between us grown to something special. I was taking care of her till her last day. At the same time my second grandmother was in the elders home, suffering from Alzheimer disease and not recognizing members of her family any more. I was doing my best to cherish the remnants of time I had with both of them. But I knew end will come. And it did.

For months I could not watch rat photos. I could not spend and hour on rats exhibition, that I used to enjoy so much in previous years. I left this blog, Instagram profile, Snapchat, Facebook, online friends who were there for me for so many years. Taking this chance I want to say – I am sorry if it made me look ungrateful guys, but I needed that time. Time to think. Take a lesson. Swallow it, as it was sour pill. I hope you understand. I am grateful for all your kind words, support, good thoughts you sent in my direction. I could not say enough “thank you” for that.

Guess, I also learned how I am dealing with such strong emotions. I am not type of a person focused on past. I am all about the future. Seeing things not as they are, but as they can be. So I pulled myself into work with doubled energy. I cannot say that it didn’t brought some benefits, but I came to the point when I started to feel that I am missing something. Someone. Rats. I miss them. And I want to give them home again.

Rats do not take, they give

When I am looking at the past from today’s perspective, I can see rats were somehow a rebellion. They appeared at my home when I was going through therapy, trying to find true self and fighting pretty bad OCD. For someone who is afraid of the tinest dirt and sickness, taking care of pets, was a challenge for sure. I like to think that rats were my private therapists, helping me go through the process of facing my fears in a behavioral manner, let’s say.

First time in my life I had to take care of someone. Be fully responsible for another live being. From the person focused only on myself I turned into owner, carer, and finally a rat parent who treats rats as family members.

A life lesson from rats

Seeing animals so smart, full of energy, with amazingly strong live will I realized we are not so different. Our heart beats are synchronized with different clocks. But our lives have expiration date.

Rats taught me about herd, family, pack. About responsibility. Care. But also about how precious life is.

This is the lesson rats gave me. Actually, they are giving me it constantly as Lizzy, Lia, Osa, Olena, they will stay in my heart forever. Same as my grandparents, even now, when they are gone, they are sharing piece of their wisdom with me. And I could not be more grateful for this gift of love for live.

Lizzy, Lia, Osa, Olena

 

 

Szczurza zakładka

Uwielbiam kolekcjonować szczurze gadżety. Kubki, torby i torebki, bransoletki, kolczyki i wisiorki. W tym tygodniu do tej kolekcji dołączyła przepiękna, ręcznie robiona zakładka do książki od RedHead Things, którą wygrałam w organizowanym przez nią konkursie. Wykonana przy użyciu akwareli i cienkopisu. Na pewno stanie się towarzyszką wielu ciekawych lektur. Oczywiście o szczurach!

Olena była bardziej zainteresowana papierowym opakowaniem (smakowało jej tak bardzo, że zostawiłam jej do zabawy na wybiegu). Ale może to i lepiej, że nie odcisnęła swoimi zębami autografu na nowiutkiej zakładce.

Kasia