Roadtrip to Wharton

I woke up on Saturday morning at 8am, threw on some clothes, and got my suitemate out of bed to begin the 160+ mile roundtrip drive to Wharton, MD on the Western Shore. We left around 8:30, stopping in Centreville to pick up McDonald's for breakfast and get some gas - all while I hoped that my car would start every time I turned it off. It makes me very happy still that it started up every single time. Good car.

The drive over to Wharton was pretty much uneventful, except that an SUV in front of it was an extreme "weaver" as Andi called it, constantly moving between traffic, unable to stay in one lane for too long. The Oldsmobile's first time over the Bay Bridge was filled with uneventfulness, except for more SUV drivers passing on the bridge. Never pass on the bridge. You are hundreds of feet above a large body of water. Don't do it. You will be fine going 45 mph for a few miles. Deal.

We arrived at the pick up point at nearly the exact moment as Shylah and her family, which negated any awkward waiting around or doubt about where we needed to be. Her son was sporting a pale blonde mohawk and light-up Spiderman sneakers, and insisted on being a dinosaur, attempting to chew on anyone or anything. We were introduced to a pile of wonderful ratties - fat Melanie, who had to get an e-spay not too long ago (which explained her fatness, since spayed/neutered rats have a much slower metabolism), beige double-rex Sunbeam, and beautiful masked odd-eye Seascape, who almost came home with me as well. Andi, my suitemate, immediately attached herself to Sunbeam, as Sunbeam had literally attached herself to her arm, while I cuddled as many ratties as I could.

My attention was drawn immediately to black-capped rex Momo, who inquisitively crawled all over me and licked my fingers as much as she could. Athena also caught my eye because she was much calmer than the rest of the bunch, and because I remembered having already met her relatives at the Spring Rodentfest. If you glance at her, Athena looks like a normal standard broken-hooded rat, like any rat you see at the pet store (and what many breeders, I think, don't breed for - people like exotic-looking rats). What sets her apart are her belly markings that can be seen in the pictures I've already posted. She's technically a downunder rat, which has pretty unusual markings. Shylah and her husband adopted ALL of the downunder rats at Rodentfest, and very few other breeders have downunders in their programs. I am very happy to have one as a pet.

While playing with the rats, Shylah, her husband and I had some rat talk while Andi cuddled Sunbeam. It's still amazing to me how complicated the rat world is - the backhanded comments, nasty threats, and passive aggressiveness, especially amongst breeders, is astounding. It makes me happy that I never really got involved with the "clique" breeders, as I'll call them, and instead spent my money and time on healthy, well-cared for rats. Immaturity and meanness at the expense of the well-being of rats disturbs me and makes me uncomfortable at times even participating in safer forms of rat talk such as the forums. I'd much rather talk with fellow rat people in person, which is such a rare occasion for me nowadays.

While I can't discuss everything here (as much as I'd like to) as I tend to hear multiple sides of every issue from hearing all of the viewpoints before I jump into the conversation, I have a feeling that it might get a little ugly on the rat side of things at Rodentfest. After having rat talk time, I know that I have a greater perspective on events that occurred even a year ago that confused me. People's actions that seemed nonsensical make sense now - even if that understanding brings greater shock to me.

I'm just happy that I know my girls are safe and sound and have already been spoiled by their second-mom, Andi. After Shylah and I talked up all the pros of rats on Saturday, she's thinking about adopted little Sunbeam (and someone else) if she's still around. I'm also trying to get her to got to Rodentfest with me, so I can have someone there to control my GGMR (Gotta Get More Rats) syndrome.


Meet Momo and Athena!

I will tell the story traveling to pick up the little babies, but for right now, here are pictures. Enjoy!


Athena's belly.


Momo crawling.



Fur Babies!

Getting ready for two new arrivals on Saturday. Two girls. Name suggestions would be very much appreciated.

The beginnings of their new house. Hooray!



Sitting in my room, alone with the two mice. I miss rattie faces peeking through the bars, little rattie paws grabbing for treats, little rattie bruxing. The mice, instead, insist on throwing their bedding out of their cage as far as possible, littering the dresser and floor with bedding. I caught Sweet P doing it once, and, as soon as she saw me stuff some of the bedding back in, fled back in their new cuddle cup. The mice are wonderful, but I cannot trust them to roam around or snuggle in my lap or do rat things. They are mice, after all.

Scary to think it has been nearly two months without a daily rat fix, every day. Even with all of my insane business, I have decided I need rats. Really, I need them. Shylah from SNR still has some left, so I'm going to try to get down to southern Maryland this month and find me some snuggle buddies.

Along with rat deprivation comes rat drama. It's scarily everywhere, and whenever I try to log onto Goosemoose for some cute pictures, I end up reading the long threads where everyone's arguing over this breeder or another or this person or blah blah blah. Do I think it's bad that someone might have taken in too many rats and now has to rehome them? Yes. Do I think I need to spread my opinion all over a forum not labeled for opinion-giving and make them feel terrible about themselves? No. They are little creatures that cannot control their circumstances. Just help the little ratties out.

So ends the grumpy rodent-lover rant.


The Beginning of the End

Last Sunday, on August 9, I woke up to find my little Chloe still as stone, lying in the first story of the mouse house. I gently picked her up, wrapped her in some towels, and buried her beneath the bird feeder in the front yard of my parents' house. While her passing away comes as no great surprise due to her tumor, I'm afraid that it's part of the line of pet deaths that have occurred or will be occurring in the next few months.

Indiana Jones, one of the two family cats, passed away mid-July from urinary tract failure at 15 years old. Yesterday, out 14 year old cat, Joe Montana, has begun acting distressed and just this morning peed on the TV stand.

Because we will probably be getting new cats in the near future, I've decided to take a break from getting new mice at the Fall Rodentfest until I have my own established place where I know I won't have to be constantly moving them. I'm sure that moving Chloe from Chestertown to York was not the best for her, but I did not have a choice in the matter.

Which brings me to the ratties. As of a few weeks ago, I now only have visitation rights. Back when my boyfriend and I started getting more and more ratties, we decided that if anything were to happen between us, the rats would not be split up. Now that this has happened, I have not really seen much of my babies lately. Even though I technically own half of them, splitting them up (which would mean me taking Peaches, MiMi, Panya, and Luffy) would cause too much friction. I've lived with that decision that was made a long time ago. I just really miss them.

And now I hope for happier rodent times.


Ratties in Trouble

It's been forever!

After my two-week trip to Bermuda and Ricky's three-week trek across England and Ireland, we're both finally back in Chestertown. This means the ratties and meeces are back too.

Everyone is doing fine, except Chloe, who has developed a lump on her back in the past 24 hours. Ricky is keeping an eye on her. Hopefully it is benign and can be removed safely.

I have more pressing news.

Shylah, owner of SNR House of Rats, is being forced to give up all of her rats. All of them. The local Humane Society is enforcing this. While I volunteer at the Humane Society in Chestertown and greatly support the organization, I am greatly confused as to why someone who cares deeply for and cares very well for their animals should have to go through this. It seems bizarre to me, but there is nothing I or the rest of the rattie community can do about it. What we can do is be supportive - fostering, donating supplies and time for the rescue organizations that will be helping SNR in this time of great need.

If you would like to help, visit SNR's website for more information. Also, if you are interested in adopting a rat, contact Shylah and let her know so you can fill out an application. Adoption fees are $10.

I will let everyone know how this turns out. Wish everyone luck!


Gender Change?

After Ricky visited last week, he headed back to Pasadena for dinner with his family. Around 5:30PM, I received this phone call:

"Uh, hey, I think there's something going on with Noodle."

"What do you mean? Is she okay?!" <-- me thinking its cancer

"No no no, she's all right, it's just, we think she has a thingie."

"You mean..."

(Ricky's mom heard in the background) "It's a penis!"

I then went through the film I had taken of Noodle, trying to find any proof of her (him/its) anatomy that we never noticed before. For those not versed in rat anatomy, there are a few major differences between male and female rats:

  • There is not much space between female rattie parts, and
  • There is a very large space between male rattie parts, which allows for their scary (ok, I think they're scary) rat balls. Scary.
I have never been a huge fan of male rat genitalia, and I say this because I know people who are. After cuddling many large squishy male rats, I also can say that I rarely notice anything unusual, as they are so big nothing really sticks out.

However, when not in my hand, I can still see them. Icky.

This phone call let to a panicked review of rat anatomy and me scouring the message boards about a similar situation. Ricky reported to me that Noodle did a) have a larger-than-normal space between her female parts and b.) at least 4 nipples, which is the way you can tell immediately that a rat is female. Or so we thought.

Noodle went for her vet appointment on Saturday, and the vet told us that there was a 75% chance that Noodle was female and that there was a 25% chance of her being a he, either because she/he was very slow in developing or was younger than we thought, and because male rats can have nipples. Hooray!

So, here's to hoping.