Of Rats and Jen (Inactive)

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

This blog is inactive

Filed under: Uncategorized — Gryphon at 4:54 pm on Friday, July 6, 2018

Thanks for visiting! Jen no longer blogs actively, but she is leaving the site up for the sake of the uploads and posts that may be useful to folks.

What’s That?

Filed under: Uncategorized — folkcat at 8:55 pm on Friday, December 4, 2009

What’s That?, originally uploaded by Folkcat.

It’s rats!

Koko (himalayan female) and Chanel (black berkshire female).

Don’t panic – all shall be revealed.

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Where To Now?

Filed under: Uncategorized — folkcat at 11:04 pm on Sunday, October 18, 2009

My new blog is live! Please visit, bookmark, and subscribe to The Transmogrifier’s Tale. As of this moment forward, all posting will happen there.

My free downloads and how-to’s are linked there as well.

Of Rats And Jen will remain here as an archive. Feel free to peruse the contents at your leisure. You can also e-mail me, or comment on any post, as you wish. I’m still following anything that happens here.

Thank you for sharing your time with me here. I hope you’ll join me at The Transmogrifier’s Tale for more creative adventures!


Filed under: Uncategorized — folkcat at 7:12 pm on Friday, October 16, 2009

Where I blog will be changing. As you can imagine, the subject of the rats is a sore one for me right now.

Of Rats and Jen will continue to exist as an archive. You will always be able to visit here and browse the photos and posts. I can’t bear to think of removing it, the rats have been too important to me. But I want a fresh start.

A new blog is under construction. Future posts will happen there, and posts with ongoing value (such as my how-to’s) will be linked there, possibly even imported. Have no fears about losing information, my links and downloads will be found both there and here as well.

I’ll let you know when the new blog is ready for primetime. Keep an eye on this space – I’ll be sure to give you a link when I’m ready for you to see the new digs!

Charles Atlas Would Be Proud

Filed under: Uncategorized — folkcat at 8:15 pm on Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Marbles on March 23, 2009

Last any of you knew, our boy Marbles had recovered from his surgery, and was trying to become accepted by the rats in the main colony – Lola, Yuri, Isabella, Leo, Lily, Laurel, Trixie, and Laura.

Yuri passed away from respiratory failure the day after we introduced Marbles. The stress may have contributed, but Yuri was getting old and sick anyhow, and almost anything could have tipped him over the edge.

Marbles maintained a point in the cage where he was near me, but had easy access to food and water, and was defensible if need be. There were some seeming moments of success, as when Lola appeared to defend him now and then. But in the long run, Marbles was soundly beaten up by everyone in the colony.

Marbles and Lola share a rare snuggle.

We tried to help by separating him from the others at times, but he kept insisting he wanted to be with them. So we allowed our boy to keep trying, even while we observed multiple fights and numerous injuries to his body. He suffered through two abcesses, and many cuts to the tail, back, and sides.

Finally, after about 3 weeks of trying to become one of the family, Marbles accepted us removing him from the main cage, and putting him in a cage by himself. It was a very sad occasion, but clearly our colony had proven that they weren’t going to accept him.

At that time, we also noticed that Marbles was showing some distress that wasn’t related to the injuries from fighting. His abdomen was distended, and he was having trouble defecating. We have known right along that he was a high risk for Mega Colon, and apparently it was now manifesting itself.

We were distraught! Marbles was clearly in a lot of discomfort. But we researched as we could, and found some sites that helped. Chief among them was www.ratguide.com, which has a series of excellent medical articles about various health problems, including mega colon.

We also talked to several veterinary offices, and learned that it’s not a condition often dealt with, so they were unable to offer much advice. In fact, we were gratefully thanked by one office when we told them about www.ratguide.com  – they hadn’t previously known about that very useful reference.

Marbles enjoys some quiet time on Mom’s desk.

In the end, we wound up treating Marbles at home. We switched him to the recommended diet – a high-moisture, low-residue assortment of foods. It has a lot in common with the diet we feed to young rat babies and to pregnant or nursing moms, and includes such items as canned kitten food, baby cereal, soy formula, and whole-dinner baby foods. And, of course, plenty of juicy, fresh fruits and vegetables.

Before long, Marbles was able to poop again. And he did so profusely, until the impacted bowel was cleared up, and he was able to function fairly normally again.

While that was happening, he began to bulk up even better than before. By the time he had his health again, Marbles was looking like a linebacker, and weighed in at 1 pound, 1 ounce. No more 98-lb weakling – or the rat equivalent, at least. We had a big, burly boy on our hands – but a lonesome one, since the need for a special diet further separated him from other rats.

Lonely Marbles!

Poor guy! Big and handsome, desperately craving love and attention. Every rat he’d ever known in his entire life had beaten him up. We gave him all the snuggling and attention we could, but it wouldn’t be the same. What would we do?

Next time – Mia steps in!

Foster Updates, Cont’d

Filed under: Uncategorized — folkcat at 7:45 pm on Thursday, July 30, 2009

Just a brief note about the group of four foster girls who passed through our hands so quickly we never got to blog them! The Soda Pop Girls were after the Mystery Girls, and before the Noisy Girls.

the pop girls 052809

The fourth one is climbing over the top of the others, under the blanket! This was another lively bunch, hard to get a group picture of.

Their names were:


moxie 052809


shasta 052809 shasta back 052809


fanta 052809 p5281027


faygo 052809

As you can see, they had quite distinct and unusual markings. I especially liked Shasta’s question mark!

The names came about because, well – rat girls are fizzy. I’ve been wanting to use soda pop names for a while, but could never come up with the right number of rats to name. Then we got handed these four fizzy girls, and voila!

The Soda Pop girls were very lucky to find a single home that wanted all four of them! They now have beautiful, four-syllable Japanese names that start with K, including Kimono and Katana. I’d have to dig a bit to find the others! Reports from their new mom is that they’re a joy to play with, and very friendly!

Coming Soon:

Marbles, Bailey, and Mia…wait, Mia? Who’s she?

Pitter Patter’s Noises

Filed under: Uncategorized — folkcat at 11:05 pm on Wednesday, July 15, 2009

As much as I want to keep updating you on foster ratties that have been and gone, I need to keep up with current rattie reality! Pitter Patter’s Noises are the four little foster girls we have in the house right now, and they are darling! Meet Boink, Eek, Chatter, and Flutter! They’re about seven and a half weeks old, and available now to adopt through Mainely Rat Rescue.

noisy girls square

I wish I could tell you who’s who in this photo, but they all look alike! All four girls are Black Berkshires, and except for their white bellies, they look almost identical. In personality, they’re very similar, too – all friendly, lively, and bouncy!

Although they’re only 7 1/2 weeks, already they’re so used to people that they’re excited to play with and be handled; they take treats from the hand with no hesitation; and though highly energetic and squirmy, they are easy to pick up and hold.

This is a lively bunch. I have never seen such a group of babies for popcorning, running, wrestling, and chasing each other around! It made it hard to get photos of the group, because they’re hardly still for a moment. I only managed the hammock shot above because they had just woken up when I opened the cage door.

This was a previous attempt at getting a photo of the whole group:

hold still, girls!

The idea was that I’d either be able to corral them in my arms, or they’d settle together on my shoulder. Then Gryphon could get a group photo, all of them together. Apparently, half of them liked the arms, and half the shoulder.

On my next attempt, I opened the cage door, and tried to get pictures of them playing in the cage. These girls are friendly, though, and when the cage door opens, they come running to see what’s happening. So the action went something like this:

p7141189 p7141191 p7141192 escape!

As you can see, the general trend was in the direction of the door, and spaces beyond! These girls are all about exploring!

Since they all look alike from above, here’s an easy guide to telling them apart:


boink_edited boink side_edited

Boink is actually a varieberk, not just a Berkshire. That means that her white markings come up her side. As you can see, she has two distinct white stripes on her left side. None of the other girls have such distinct side markings.


eek 1_edited eek belly_edited

If you look at Eek’s belly, you can see a place where the black on her sides narrows the white. In the photo above, the black peninsula on the left is rounded, and the one opposite it is pointed.

All four girls have white tips to their tails as well, but Eek is the only one with just the smallest tip of the tail in white. All of the other three have at least a half-inch or so.


flutter 1_edited flutter belly_edited

“Flutter Funky-Belly,” that’s what we call this girl! Her white belly is the most irregularly shaped of the lot. The lower part looks a bit like Africa, with an extra stripe of land pointing off to the West.


chatter_edited chatter belly_edited

Chatter distinguishes herself by having the least irregular belly marking of the lot! I usually identify her by figuring out who the other three are first, and whoever’s left, must be Chatter.

All four of these girls love playing together. They’ll be adopted out in pairs, but it would be absolutely awesome if someone wanted to keep the sisters together! If you’re interested, just visit Mainely Rat Rescue and check out the instructions for adopting from us.

Meet Bailey

Filed under: Uncategorized — folkcat at 5:28 pm on Thursday, July 9, 2009

Meet Bailey, originally uploaded by Folkcat.

She was furiously washing herself while we had a late pizza lunch at the Fox Run Mall in Portsmouth. Bailey was surrendered to MRR the very day that our Lola passed. When I can get a good picture of her face, and tell you the rest of her story, you’ll see just how amazing that is. For now, we’re still on the road home.

A New Shawl

Filed under: Uncategorized — folkcat at 4:26 pm on Sunday, July 5, 2009

A New Shawl, originally uploaded by Folkcat.

I’ve had two main knitting projects lately. One is the never-ending run of cotton blankets for the rats. The other is this entre-lac shawl. I’m knitting it from the point up so I can get it as big as I want w/o guessing. The yarn is Noro Kureyon Sock, color 229.

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Foster Update, Part 2: The Mystery Girls

Filed under: Uncategorized — folkcat at 5:07 pm on Thursday, July 2, 2009

The first group of foster girls that passed through our cages without being reported on here were the Mystery Girls. They were so named because two of them were reserved for adoption before arriving in our home, and their new owner named them for favorite mystery book characters of hers.

These four girls were all sisters from the same litter. The entire family was turned in to a shelter in Maine when they were about 5 or 6 weeks old.

Sookie Stackhouse and Stephanie Plum
sookie and stephanie

These were the girls who were adopted first. I wasn’t familiar with either book series, but have learned that Sookie Stackhouse (the black Berkshire on the left) is the main character in the True Blood series, and Stephanie Plum is a bounty hunter in her own series.

Inspired by adopter Betty’s names for these two girls, I plunged into my own favorite mystery series to name the other two.

Sneaky Pie and KoKo
sneaky pie and koko_edited

Yes, my favorite mystery books are the Sneaky Pie books by Rita Mae Brown, and the Cat Who books by Lillian Jackson Braun. That’s KoKo on the right up there, of course – a Himalayan rat seemed appropriate to name for a Siamese cat!

Sneaky Pie and KoKo found an adoptive home of their own in short order, and now live with a young brother and sister pair of humans here in New Hampshire. Their new names are Phoebe (Sneaky Pie) and Piper (KoKo)*. They were really fun while they were here, though, and I miss them like I miss all my foster kids.

Next Time on “Foster Updates”: The Soda Pop Girls!

*Yes, the adoptive mother of their new family acknowledged that if they got more rats, they would likely be Prue and Paige!

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