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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We had gotten 3 rats total over a period of time, 2 girls and 1 very young boy who we mistook for a girl for a few weeks. One of the females became pregnant and I just recently noticed, the very sad thing is this rat is not able to take care of herself, let alone her babies. Zebra suffers from what I'm told is called wry neck syndrome. 3 weeks after we got her she could barely walk and nearly died. I hand fed her and gave her water off my fingertips for days as she wouldn't even exit her little tunnel I made for her. Eventually she was over or had adapted to whatever initially caused her illness, but the permanent damage was already done. We never expected her to survive, let alone get pregnant from the boy rat we mistook for a female. :(

This afternoon Zebra gave birth to 18 live babies. After she somehow managed to deliver them she went back to her old ways, walking in circles and falling over. Normally this is to be expected, but having another rat recently who was purchased pregnant, I knew this was very very abnormal mothering behavior. All attempts to get her to feed or even warm the kittens has failed, she can't even seem to grasp that they are her children. :( With no way of getting any formula or feeding tools at this time for the babies, I fear they will die. I can't even leave the kittens with their mother as she has hurt many of them just moving around by stepping on and accidentally kicking/scratching them.

As a last ditch effort I have placed them in a nest box I made for our other pregnant rat who gave birth 2 weeks ago. I believe she has let a few of them nurse and they are currently cuddled up next to her own babies. I'm hoping the smell of her children and the nesting area she is familar with will convince her to nurse these kittens as well as her own. I've also added a heating blanket to the case along with their normal nest bedding to keep the infants warm as they were very very cold with no mother protecting them. I know it's a bit insane to stick 18 newborns with 9 two week old babies and one small first time mother, but on top of the fact that Zebra didn't notice them she had also managed to hurt them.

If anyone has any experience with similar issues please let me know, I'd enjoy any advise/tips you can offer.

Thank you in advance.

--Aaron

**edit** I think this may be a good sign. After placing the newborns in the little box her babies were feeding in /w her, she moved all of them (18, plus her 9) over to a Mountain Dew box in the other corner, and proceeded to barrier up the entrance with paper scraps. I picked up one baby that didn't quite make it into the box and set in in front of her. She gently picked it up and set it beside her belly where I think it was able to get some of her milk. I'm not 100% sure, but I think this may actually work. The 2 week old babies are also doing their part by cuddling with the newborns and and bringing more paper scraps into the nest. ^_^ I'm praying this will at least help some of the kittens survive. I still welcome any thought or advise in this difficult time.
 

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Re: Very serious issue. Mother not able to care for her youn

Holy cow! Your poor rattie!

Welcome to the forum. Sounds like you're trying really hard for your rats
(whom we would LOVE to see pics of, btw, especially the eepers!).

If you can't get formula for the rittens, which would be the first choice, definitely make sure that you're helping the foster mother as much as possible. Lots of protein, like scrambled eggs.

Cows milk isn't good for rats, some say they're lactose intolerant, but if you have any soy milk around, that would be good to try to coax the little babies into drinking.

I don't know if babies can hand Ensure or some kind of protein drink like that, but if they look like they're starving, it might be a better idea to try to get the babies to drink some of that rather than have them die.

Hopefully someone with more experience with this kind of thing will pop in soon. Good luck! Keep them warm, and keep Mama fed!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Re: Very serious issue. Mother not able to care for her youn

CaptainFlow said:
Holy cow! Your poor rattie!

Welcome to the forum. Sounds like you're trying really hard for your rats
(whom we would LOVE to see pics of, btw, especially the eepers!).

If you can't get formula for the rittens, which would be the first choice, definitely make sure that you're helping the foster mother as much as possible. Lots of protein, like scrambled eggs.

Cows milk isn't good for rats, some say they're lactose intolerant, but if you have any soy milk around, that would be good to try to coax the little babies into drinking.

I don't know if babies can hand Ensure or some kind of protein drink like that, but if they look like they're starving, it might be a better idea to try to get the babies to drink some of that rather than have them die.

Hopefully someone with more experience with this kind of thing will pop in soon. Good luck! Keep them warm, and keep Mama fed!
I will do my best to see what I can managed based on your suggestions tomorrow after work. As for the babies I'll share the pictures I have.

Here's the only photo I have of the newborns so far, after their traumatic experience I wanted to give them as much space as I can while still checking up on them. I also hope my non-intervention at this point will allow their serogate mother Chicken accept them as her own. Here's 18 ratlets:


Chicken and her 9 babies (day of birth) [low quality videos here and here]:




Mommy (Chicken) stocking up for milk production:

And her babies finally in view:



Day 2 upon return from work the nest has moved.... slightly.... lol:




Day 4:



Day 9:



Day 9 feeding:


Day 10:



Day 10 eye check, some of them are opening, but won't hold for the picture due to light:





Day 14 all 9 babies profile shots:











One of the kittens exploring my shoulders (in the second photo my shirt makes a nice blankie)




Today video of kitten learning the wheel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0DCN01kqto

I've had to remove the wheel a couple times as Chicken didn't notice babies already on the wheel and they went tumbling. >.<
After they all calmed down I placed it back along with a smaller wheel.
 

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Re: Very serious issue. Mother not able to care for her youn

OMG they are so cute! I'm glad that things are working out for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Re: Very serious issue. Mother not able to care for her youn

I have to regretfully report that I found 17 of the 18 newborns had passed away late this morning. I last checked on them around 7:30am and upon rechecking at 11am after a short nap they were gone. :( The remaining ratlett is currently MIA and also presumed dead.

I know I saw Chicken feeding them even though they weren't her own, perhaps it was just too little too late.

Looking back I wonder if i made the right choice. Either they would have been trampled to death by their own mother due to her condition and freeze, or they pass away due to either starvation or just general weakness of their systems yet stay cuddled up warm with others of their kind.

I like to think the latter was a better way to go.

Chicken and her own 9 babies are still doing well, I hope this hasn't proved to be a traumatic experience for them as well.
 

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Re: Very serious issue. Mother not able to care for her youn

i'm so sorry for your loss :(
the newborns may have been too weak, or had an inherited genetic condition that just won't have allowed them to survive :( you did your best, and so did momma Chicken.
 

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Re: Very serious issue. Mother not able to care for her youn

I'm so sorry for your loss. You did everything that you could do... but with a sick mom, a lot of them could have inherited something. I'm so sorry.
 

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Re: Very serious issue. Mother not able to care for her youn

I'm sorry to hear about the other babies, but if they could've grew up to have what their momma has then perhaps it was for the best.
I'm sure you did the right thing in moving them, at least they felt loved for the short time that they survived.
I just hope that the baby that is left survives and is healthy. Chicken sounds like a really good momma taking on another 18 babies.

:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Re: Very serious issue. Mother not able to care for her youn

Thank you all for the kind words. It really means a lot to me.
After much thought I agree that I did what was best. It just hurts to think that had the weather not been so bad yesterday I could have gotten them some kind of formula, but I know I have to let it go.

I guess at the very least I have to be grateful that Zebra made it through the birth and is still alive and well. She was always a very fat rat after her near death experience and I barely noticed she was pregnant until a few days prior. I'll be taking steps to make sure her health is not risked any further and that she does not become pregnant again. She's the lucky one as she doesn't even seem to notice what happened.

Chicken and her 9 babies are also doing well, though they haven't quite got the hang of the one rat per wheel rule, they at least need to all start going the same direction. ^_^
 

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Re: Very serious issue. Mother not able to care for her youn

Zebra most likely had an inner ear infection and needed antibiotics to cure her wry neck (one of the common symptoms, along with circling). Some rats make it through the infection, never lose the headtilt and are more prone to it if they have never been medicated.

Sorry to hear about your wee ones, its possible they didn't get the colostrum from Zebra they needed with all those necessary antibodies before she abandoned them, and Chicken was 2 weeks past colostrum production. :(
 

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Re: Very serious issue. Mother not able to care for her youn

I am no expert butt I would say that it is very hard for one rat to feed 18 baabies plus her own 9 to look after but she gave it a good shot. I think that you absolutely di the right thing and that any number of things could have happened to the babies even if they had not passed away people on this forum are always saying that pet store rats can have babies with any number of prolems and I think that zebra's would be at risk for even more problems good job:)
 

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Re: Very serious issue. Mother not able to care for her youn

I too am sorry for your loss. Sometimes nature knows best. There very well could have been any number of things going on with those babies.

But this story can also serve a greater purpose... educating people about preparedness in case they find themselves with a similar situation where a mother is either unable or unwilling to nurse the babies.

I have said this so many times on the board, prepare for the worst. This isn't a negative stance... this is a proactive approach in turning a negative situation into a positive one. If you know your rat is expecting, at the very least get one thing set up before she delivers, get a can of kitten or puppy formula along with an eye dropper just in case there is a nursing issue. If you need to use it then you freeze the formula in small cubes full strength & mix it 50/50 before feeding them.
 
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