Ended up briefly juggling big bruiser Harvey and tiny little Rosie the other night at cleaning-out time, with Harv tugging at my trouser leg to be picked up while Rosie was having her wee handle; and the size difference between them has never been clearer! Love all the pets, little and large! 😳❤️🐴🐭🐭🐹❤️
Now in its 27th year, National Pet Month is a celebration of the mutual benefits shared between people and their pets. For rescue-animal advocate Cheryl Smith, who founded a non-profit that assists pets in need, the May observance is a time to recognize many of the things that really matter in life. “How we treat […]
Got to the farm yesterday morning and found the boy comfortably adapted to his summertime routine of spending more time in the field; taking the quiet morning hours for a proper sleep at the bottom of the field – in the shade of the cottages and looking completely peaceful.
In winter, I so rarely get to see him lying down. He tends to do all his flat out sleeping in the stable overnight and is always up and ears forward by 7am when he knows to expect me to arrive and fill his feed bucket with breakfast – only the tell-tale straw hanging from his tail and winter fluffy fur to give away how relaxed he was a couple of hours ago.
I always love to spend a bit of time out in the field with him, feeling like it gives me a better insight into life through his eyes: standing under his favourite tree of a late summer night or becoming at one with the morning routine of drink from the water trough, roll half way down the field and amble to the bottom right to begin foraging for good grass of a wrapped-up winter morning. But these first days of summer are some of my favourite times to spend in his little world with him: when he is enjoying the change in the weather and the warmth in the air and is contentedly letting his routines slide and lying back in the sun whenever it suits him.
I settled down beside him and he barely moved, just a sleepy hello and on with dozing.
Eventually, he was all slept out and back on his feet, our usual companionable wander into the stable block and all the usual excitement over the sound of pony nuts hitting the bottom of his blue bucket, eyes bright and alert.
As I started writing this last night, I was leaning in one of my favourite spots on the field gate and he was back out again, day done and on to the usual water trough, roll and graze routine, and I could predict it all so accurately; but had loved the unexpected morning of peaceful dozing and some quality time with my sleepy boy.
It’s hard to believe we are already over half-way through May already and hurtling towards half-way through 2016 – but with the weather finally holding, heat in the air from first thing and the skies blue more days than not, summer is pretty much here; and has brought with it all its usual beauty and new life.
Every year I look forward to this time, when the cherry blossoms outside our house come into their own and the street is filled with tumbling pale pink confetti every time the wind rustles by.
Inside, the pets are doing fine – little Rose having been with us two years next week, 26 months old and looking bright and well, and the boys their usual selves, still surprisingly timid souls around new sights and sounds – taking a while to warm up to the idea of the back door slung open once more at weekends and the buzz of the outdoors drifting in – but very settled in their home and enjoying tumbling plays around the living room at nights.
At the farm, the midges are swarming already in a thickening band between the sea and the hill, and as Charmer suffers from sweet itch which makes this all the worse, on my evening visits am always armed with citronella spray, mesh fly rugs and opting for shady hours in the barn when the day is muggiest – although a bit itchy he is undeterred in general and absolutely loving the new grass that has come through and the adventures we’ve had the time and daylight to go on!
I’m very lucky too to work in beauitful surroundings and to have a loch to walk around on lunch breaks – this week has been a wonderful one for that, watching the ducks, coots and swans on the water and the oyster catchers nearby – all are currently on nests with new life just around the corner, except two families of ducks whose new arrivals are with us already and impossibly fluffy and entertaining to watch find their way in life.
Looking forward to watching them grow, seeing the rest of the babies hatch, and to more of these warm temperatures and lots of time to enjoy the outdoors, nature, and our gaggle of animals.
Hope everyone is having a good week. ❤
One of the most rewarding things I find about owning pet rats is watching their interactions with each other and the way they relate to each other. Rats are such social animals and rely very strongly on the group dynamic in terms of their survival and happiness.
Introducing new rats into a group or one lone rat to another can be a difficult process but one which, if managed carefully, can result in a happy and fulfilled living arrangement for both parties. We have done this twice, first with a group of three girls, and then with two young boys and two adult boys; both times having found it incredibly interesting to observe.
I’m not an expert on rat behaviour, only know what I’ve learned from loving so much watching my little ones play out their natural behaviours and interactions, but just wanted to document the stages we went through with the introductions we’ve had as it was a nerve-wracking but fascinating process.
(Just to add in case anyone reading is looking to introduce, I know although we’ve been lucky in both our introductions that there can be the possibility of serious injury in some cases. We have seen a glimpse of this too having had one failed attempt to introduce – our old Pipkin, who I’d love to write about in more depth at some point, one of the most special rats we have owned but our most “damaged” rescue when he first arrived – he was a truly lovely boy who did live a happy little life with us but who we were never actually able to settle with any of our other boys due to his many problems interacting and severe aggression during all attempts. Introductions can have their risks, and this article on the Fancy Rats forum is very informative and advises on how to anticpate and avoid extremely aggressive behaviour if needed: http://www.fancyratsforum.co.uk/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=52)
Our first experience of introducing rats was of adult females – our girl Peatie was on her own following the loss of her cagemate Smokie when we adopted Sylvie and Lizzie as company for her.
(L-R Peatie, Sylvie and Lizzie)
I believe from the reading we did on the topic beforehand that with adult to adult intros girls can be slightly less prone to aggression than boys and I have to say ours did handle the situation in a very ladylike manner!
Sylvie and Lizzie already lived together and were comfortable in their pair, and Peatie had lived as the more dominant rat with her sister Smokie until only a few weeks before so all were used to a pair scenario; and it was very interesting watching the dynamic of three and how each of them handled it.
(L-R: Sylvie and Lizzie, Peatie with Smokie)
At the time obviously we knew Peatie far better than we did Sylvie and Lizzie, who were new to us, but as we would come to know them all over time as much-loved pets, it comes as no surprise to us with the gift of hindsight that the first interaction to take place was Lizzie very quickly taking herself out of the battle for “top rat” that went on to play out. Probably our most timid and submissive rat ever, Lizzie was by nature always going to settle herself happily at the bottom of the pecking order – as she did, without any fuss, when first installed in her new mischief of three; leaving Sylvie and Peatie to continue their negotiations head to head!
We first introduced them all on a towel in the bath, in order to give them all a completely neutral area:
We did this every day for a few days for longer each time, and also kept their cages close by each other when they weren’t out, to let them get used to each other’s smells and behaviours, before eventually fully cleaning out the main rat cage, which Peatie had been living in, in order to try to make it too as neutral as possible, and letting all three settle in it.
We weren’t sure if we’d have to do this in stages too, but after a few tumbles and a bit of wariness, very much concentrated between Sylvie and Peatie, there was calm very quickly; although we did keep an eye on them for several hours to be sure. In most of these pictures Liz can’t be seen, hiding out of sight and observing Peatie and Sylvie’s discussions – she didn’t seem stressed at any time witnessing all this though and was just generally as we would come to know very submissive and content to take her place below both her cagemates quite happily. Most of Peatie and Sylve’s interactions were eye contact, often poised staring each other down for several minutes, but never fluffed up and seeming aggressive, more dancing round each other and testing each other out. It didn’t take too long for that to settle and ultimately it seemed that Peatie established herself as the most dominant of the three, but really in the end didn’t meet too much resitance with that at all, and the three girls were a very good fit for each other.
I think we were very lucky with this as our first experience of introducing rats, and I was so delighted to find this sight greeting me when I got home after their first day left together:
The three girls worked very well as a group and spent many happy days in dens and hammocks happily in their cage, and also playing together out free ranging, with never a glimpse again of any of the brief arguments they had at their first meeting! Just a few pictures of them all being very chilled…
Will write soon about the experience of introducing our current boys Harvey and Ty to our oldies Winston and Chae who they used to live with – this was when H & T were very young so it had its own dynamics, but was equally fascinating to me!
Love to hear about other experiences and stories of how your groups were formed so please feel free to join in if you have any and if any questions ask away 🙂