This is a memorial for a good rat that never had the chance to find his own people family. A good little rat, happy, energetic, and never biting that lived and died before someone had the chance to take him home. While he was not my rat I still cry for him and mourn the loss of a great little critter.
I first noticed him shortly after he arrived. Some girl had rats, she had been breeding dumbos and recently decided to stop. She must have brought at least fifty rats to the pet store and left them to whatever fate the store decided for them, but the store knew that rats were more then just food for expensive snakes. The rats were sifted through, checked for health and temperament, and those that passed were put on the floor to be sold to a good home. This little boy was one of them. I frequent this pet store a lot, I looked over the rats, helped them identify the girls so they could be separated before they got pregnant. This little boy had about four litter mates but I remembered him because of his odd coat coloring. He was all black with white paws and a perfectly round cap on the top of his head right between his dumbo ears. The cap was brown so it showed against the black. I referred to him as "the capped rat" or "Cappy." I never called him Cappy where he could hear, he was not my rat and I had no place naming him. I had boys of my own, but the cage I have isn't fit for a third rat, so I was waiting until I got a bigger cage to decide. In the mean time I would stop by the store and play with the rats.
This rat never nipped, he didn't squeak and liked to investigate the fingers that came within reach. He liked the wheel, both for running on and sleeping in, and he adored the sleeping snuggle piles. His favorite place to be however, was on top of the house that all the other rats lived in.
I watched him grow to double the size he was when he came in. He was getting bigger then his litter mates, but I noticed he looked very... sleek. He didn't have the plumpness the others did. I monitored him carefully as he got skinnier. I checked his teeth and listened to his lungs. Healthy teeth, healthy lungs, plenty of food in the cage and a clean water bowl. I couldn't figure out why he wasn't gaining weight. His condition was not ignored. The pet store provided treats for the rats, as well as a healthy diet of lab blocks and occasionally seed mixes. No one knew what to do. No one understood why he just wasn't gaining weight.
Today I was in the store and I was looking him over. I knew he needed to gain weight soon and I was worried, but he ran through my fingers like any other rat. Everyone here knows the hand staircase? One hand in front of the other as the rat runs over your hands like a little rattie tread mill. He speed through my fingers with all of the energy of the plump babies so I was optimistic. I was talking with an employee about what could be done to help him. The employees were concerned too. I put him down by the food bowl, hoping he would take the hint. He didn't. He ran towards the house, but while I was holding him the rats had been given a treat. Usually the birds get them, but the rats had been given a few seed stalks and were happily munching away. The little capped rat stopped before entering the house, taking notice of the rare treat. He picked one up and sat on his hind legs, holding it in his paws and eating. I was so happy he was eating and I was so sure he was going to get better. The very next second it happened.
He seemed to jump. He started convulsing, and he fell over. He wasn't moving. The two of us stood there in complete shock. We watched him. His feet twitched. Carefully, we scooped him up, holding him cupped we checked his vitals. He still had a heart beat but it was very faint. Neither one of us knew what to do so we decided to do the best we could. A cage was made for him, one with his own food bowl and water bottle. It had a little house and some treats in it. He was going to stay secluded there until he recovered, until they figured out what was wrong. Unfortunately, he just didn't get better. He didn't last too long after the seizure. He was carefully placed into the new cage, and it was in the new cage that he quietly died.
He may not have been my rat, but he wasn't anybody else's rat either. So, without a name and never having found a home, a little rat is laid to rest tonight.
Sweet dreams little capped rat. You at least have a home in my heart.