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.
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!