Vet update

No photo today because it’s One Of Those Weeks in my life, but I’m delighted to say that this morning’s visit to the vet after another bout of sneezing and whistling from poor Salty was very positive. I’d already guessed from their increased liveliness and improved condition that they were doing well – they’ve now got proper, full-length muscle in their tails which they didn’t have when they first arrived. The way they curl their tails up when they’re foraging is making me laugh – two little pink serpents poke out above the cage base and scurry around.

It turns out that my suspicions as to why Salt had the sneezes again were right – Salt hadn’t put any weight on at all because Pepper, who’s gone from 513g last weigh-in to a rotund 540g pudding in a couple of weeks, has been eating all the pies. I thought something a bit suspicious was going on when I realised that Pepper is so uptight about getting enough food (probably thanks to a horrible rat-mill youth) that not even scatter feeding was working to make them share. Pepper simply declared the entire cage floor and all the food his property and smacked Salt around for daring to forage at all. So poor Salt, who is actually bigger in terms of his nose-to-tail length, wasn’t getting enough of the goodies and filling out. Mad Aunt Gill pronounced them far healthier than they’d been when I first brought them in; this is a very minor relapse according to her, and the regime from now on is one week’s Baytril now, and then five days of it once a month for three months if they don’t have symptoms – that should beat the back general level of myco they carry around. She thinks they’ll likely be back come November when the central heating goes back on, but all in all we’ve done the job pretty well πŸ™‚

As for the mealtime stress problem, Pepper is now looking like nothing so much as an oversized pool ball with a little pointy nose on it, and after consulting the FancyRats folk I’ve taken to taking him out for click training and cuddles and then sneaking the food bowl in there while he’s away. So Salt gets first crack at the good stuff, and Pepper gets his exercise! So far it seems to be working, both of them are already calmer about meals, and the really unexpected bonus is that both the click training and the extra attention are revolutionising the way Pepper interacts with me. I’m learning as much as he is and I’m really starting to respect the social intelligence of these little guys. Pepper’s had a habit of sitting watching me ever since I brought the two of them home; it’s taken me this long to realise that he wants a way to interact with me as part of his notional tribe. Part of his fear of me was that I wasn’t offering him a social role he could understand, so he couldn’t figure out how to give me something I want. Little sweetie! The click training seems to be really rewarding to him just for the interaction between us. He’s nearly got “come here” figured out after four days, although it still takes a couple of tries sometimes, and most adorably, he’s now taken to sleeping beside me on the sofa instead of under the nearest cushion he can find.

So I’m loving this. I really feel that their liveliness and condition is a reward in itself for the effort I’ve put in, and now that they’re healthy and lively and full of personality i’m falling for them more and more every time. Rats; they’re awesome πŸ™‚


4 thoughts on “Vet update

  1. What you say about finding a common ground and understanding to interact with Pepper got me thinking- Rockall is also very much his own chap, but also constantly watching us, tho he doesn’t respond to cuddles or ratty handwrestling and will sleep unr a cushion on the sofa rather than on me. Haven’t yet found out what he does want with/from us, but you’ve inspired me to keep experimenting until we find something to bond and interact over! Portland’s easy- Portland likes scritches. ❀

    • Sounds very much like Pepper – he seems to love the click training because he knows he’s got a job to do and he actually understands the messages I’m sending him.

      One of the books KattieRattie was recommending on the forums apparently has tips in it to find out what your rats like – Barron’s My Rat by someone-or-other Ludwig. The other one she was recommending was “Rat training: tricks and games for fun and fitness” by Debbie Ducommun, which I vaguely recall you already have? The thread where I asked is here and mentions some more heavyweight scientific studies of rat behaviour too.

  2. I got kind of lazy with these two when they first arrived, and didn’t really do the basic name training and recall stuff I usually do as a bare minimum, as I had 3 sick boys to worry about at the time That initial work might have shown up if rocky was responding well, and we could have worked further… Still, maybe you can teach a youngish rat new tricks! I need to be a bit more proactive about engaging them on free range too, and not just picking up a book! Or, in this case, the iPad…

    • Yes, I’ve been guilty of that as well! Ignoring housemate with laptop… ignoring pets with laptop… ignoring life problems with laptop… dammit, the pets are supposed to be one of the good things!

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