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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I guess I should start with a little bit about myself! I am a 24 year old VOA working at an animal shelter, and currently working on my prerequisites to be an RVT. I am a pet enthusiast (obviously lol), a bit of an introvert and am happiest when working, being outdoors, or being a geek with close friends. I don't have very many people in my life who share my love for these wonderful little creatures, and after stumbling across this forum it seemed like a great community to be a part of!

I'm sure many of you have faced a similar situation as the one I am currently in, and was wondering if you would be able to offer any advice.
I adopted my first rat Abigail two and a half years ago, and my second one Andromeda shortly after. Abby had been battling respiratory illness for almost a year and had lost a ton of weight. She went from about 370g-250g. She was on antibiotics as well as furosemide in case of a potential heart problem and after finally finding a formula/paste intended for rats she finally started to gain weight. (As she seemed to be reluctant to eat solid foods.) She had become much more active, her breathing didn't seem as labored, and she started eating on her own again. The night before last, I awoke to find she had passed away at some point during the night. I am in complete shock as I honestly though she was improving. She was still so athletic and agile and acted so excited whenever I came home from work. I just can't imagine she would suddenly pass.

My boyfriend and I had made the decision years ago that if one of our rats passed, we would get two younger companions for the remaining one. However in my current state of grief and guilt, the thought of 'replacing' Abby is devastating. My poor little Anna is obviously taking this loss very hard. She has started sleeping in unusual spots, refuses to go in the hammock they once shared, and has picked up mannerisms that were characteristic of Abby, but not her. She is not very interested in her favorite treats and seems to have lost her bubbly spirit.
Anna displays all the signs of being deaf and Abby seemed to almost know she was different. She would always let Anna win during play fights, despite Abby being so much bigger than her. If I gave Abby a treat, she would always bring it to Anna and then come back for her own. The only way Anna would learn tricks is from watching Abby perform them first.

So I guess my question is, do I have to put my feelings aside and start the process of introducing new rats? Or do you think Anna needs some time to grieve as I do. I haven't let Anna out of sight since yesterday but I fear for when I return to work and she is left alone for hours at a time. Do you think it would be better to get another older rat? I don't know how Anna will handle the responsibility of being the older sister or if the younger ones will understand her needs. But I also dread the thought of losing more rats in such a short time.

Thanks for taking the time to read this! Here's a picture of Anna and my poor late Abby. Anna is on the left, Abby is the silver hooded on the right.
 

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Oh wow, that is a tough one.
On one hand rats are social animals and getting her another friend seems like it would be a good idea. But on the other I don't know if she would be willing to accept another friend just like that.
Perhaps give her a little time first, making sure to give her plenty of your attention. And then a little later try getting her a new friend. And make sure to take the introduction nice and slow since she's an older doe.
As far as the age of the new rat: I think an older one will be better. From my experience, older rats seem to dislike really young ones. Being older they probably aren't comfortable with having to care for a younger rat.

I know it's not much, but I hope it helps anyway.
And I'm so sorry for your lose. I've lost rats before and have admittedly cried like a baby over it! So I understand what it's like. If you want to talk at all, then I'd be happy to listen.
Good luck with Anna and any future rats you may get.
-Quercus K Alba
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
That sounds like a good idea. I will definitely consider getting another older one or two. I want to do whatever is best for Anna and hopefully when I've had some time to deal with my grief, her needs will be a bit more clear to me.
To makes things a bit worse, today I found a very small bump under Anna's skin on the lower left side of her belly....so now I'm gonna have to try to deal with this as well!! Geez, why do rats have to have so many health issues? It's just not fair!

It really does make me feel better though to know that there are others who understand how I feel. When my boyfriend wanted to take that emotional day off from work, he didn't say which type of pet he had lost as he felt it would affect the manager's decision to let him leave. That just breaks my heart. I've had several pets growing up and though I loved each and every one of them dearly, I definitely had a special bond with Abby. She was just as loyal and loving as a dog or any other pet and I miss her so much.

Thank you for the advice! <3
 

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With girls, they often become introverted and gain a lot of weight when they lose a friend and they seem to age almost spontaneously... The aging doesn't seem to ever reverse, but it tends to stop when they get a new rat friend. And no, I can't explain it, nor will I try.

Given a choice one of our older girls hand picked a friend who was about 7 months old. She was already a bit calmer and took good care of our old girl as she became disabled. But normally we adopt pups and raise them until they are old enough to introduce to our older rats and that works out too. You can't introduce pups to older girl rats. No it's not perfect because the young rats would prefer more of a playmate and the older girls would prefer more of a snuggle buddy, but it's a decent compromise. Every year we replace one rat as we have two rats about a year apart in age and our rats tend to live about two years.

Now, I know you're heartbroken and no rat will ever replace Abby. But do keep in mind that the reason rats have such a short life span is to make room for their offspring and next generation. Abby sacrificed her life so there would be room for another little girl in her cage and in your heart. By giving some other deserving rat or rats in need a good home you are honoring her memory as well as finding yourself and Anna a new best friend or two, when you are ready. Do keep in mind your new rats may not be Abby or Anna, but they will be little persons deserving of love and care too and they will want to get to know and love you too. So they are more than just space fillers for Anna's sake.

Anna would most likely prefer an older friend, but that puts you with two older rats again and two rats with limited time... Younger girls might be a little stressful on Anna, but at least you will get the time to spend with them and raise them right. It's hard for us to lose a best friend every year, but if we adopted older rats we might be losing two a year... and that would make it twice as hard.

I can kind of tell you what I believe and what I do, but I can't tell you what's right for you...

I am sorry for your loss and hope that you find another perfect furry friend to fill the vacancy Abby left in her cage and in you heart when you are ready.
 

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Oh no! I really hope it's not something serious! I'll be praying for Anna's safety and well being!
Tell me about it! I love rats so much, but sometimes I just can't deal with losing them so quickly. Which is why I am ratless a lot of times, despite them being some of my favourite animals. I'm already so attached to my current rats, the thought of losing them is devastating!

I completely agree. People should not be judged about the loss of a pet, whether it be a beloved family dog, or even just a goldfish. Some of the smallest, most seemly insignificant things can have the biggest emotional value to some people. And you certainly should not put anyone down for that.
Aw, Abby sounds like an absolute angel! I'm sure she's in a great place now. <3

My pleasure! I'm hoping for the best for you gals! <3
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Rat Daddy, thank you for taking the time to respond! I will definitely take all of that into consideration when adopting more rats. And thank you for your kind words. I think I really needed to hear that to help ease some of my guilt. I'll make Abby proud of the love I will give to any future rats I am lucky enough to have.
There was a news story a couple of days ago that 68 rats were surrendered to shelter close to where I live and they are quite overwhelmed. I might pay them a visit to see if any of them seem would be a good fit for Anna.

Kann, I have a vet appointment set for Anna so hopefully I'll get more answers soon!
It is incredibly hard :( I know we just have to hold onto the good memories and know that we gave them the opportunity to know real love. Something they may not have had without us.
Abby really was a little Angel <3 Thank you so much <3
 
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