Sunday, June 22, 2008

Meet the new girls (same as the old girls?)

Two weeks ago, we picked up these young snips:

Their names are Angelina (left) and Pancake, a pink-eyed white and a pink-eyed Himalayan, both four-month old rat kittens. (Yes, that's the shoulder of yours truly they're resting on.)
We picked them up from a rat shelter, which we have used before to get our rats from. Angie and Panky (as they are colloquially known) had previously been kept by an indifferent teenager in an abandoned house, only occasionally fed and given water by his aunt. When the rescue lady found them, they were standing in their own filth, and one of them had the cord of a blind around her neck, nearly strangling her. Due to them being kept in those poor conditions, they may have future respiratory problems, which domestic rats are very prone to.
The first weekend, we treated them for lice and put them on antibiotic meds for their sneezing. We had to use one of our spare rat cages to keep the younger girls in. Then we very slowly and carefully introduced them to our two older girls:

That's Mary and Sapphire, both 1 year and 8 months old. They had lived with the now deceased Star, but had gotten used to life on their own and had settled into their own ways. The last thing they wanted were two bouncy—and sexually charged—teenage rats bothering them! Mary was our biggest worry, as she got the angriest at their presence, and she did thrash them violently early on. But, by letting them interact in neutral territory (such as the bathroom), then putting the older girls in the younger girls' cage, letting them play together in the living room—which the older girls consider their range—and then eventually into the big girls' cage, we accomplished what we had hoped for. They now get along and are best buddies with each other. Mary and Sapphire now accept the two younger ones as cagemates.
Immediately before they went into the big girls' cage together, Squirrel had taken them to the vets for a check-up and meds. She had put all four of them into a small-animal carrying cage, and all went well. We considered this a vital step to the next stage, which was putting all four rats into the big "master" cage. Once home from the vets, they all went into the master cage and it all went according to plan from that point on.
Angelina is named after the children's character, Angelina the Ballerina Mouse, which is a British cartoon but was shown on American PBS stations. Pancake is named after one of the meerkats on Animal Planet's Meerkat Manor, about the daily lives of a group of meerkats in a South African desert. But, as aforementioned, we call them Angie and Panky (or Panks) for short.
It is interesting watching the two generations of rats interact peacefully. And, of course, it's an absolute pleasure sharing our lives with them. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I cannot comprehend the mindset of anyone who doesn't like animals and doesn't want them around—the sort of person who thinks only people matter. People do matter, most definitely. But I enjoy sharing my time and my life with other earthly creatures too, especially one as dynamically intelligent as the rat. They really are the most astounding animals.


kristen said...

You mean, she's not named after Angelina Jolie? ;-)

How nice to adopt some animals that have been abused by previous owners. I always feel sorry for those.

Beth said...

Fun fun... not a rat person myself, but I absolutely agree with you when it comes to animals in my home.

Mouse1972 said...

Yay for you and Squirrel being heroes to ratties in danger >^.^<