Of Rats and Jen

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

Bellies Up!

Filed under: Mainely Rat Rescue,Rats! — folkcat at 7:35 pm on Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Gryphon and I took an opportunity last night to look the babies over again. For those of you who may be wondering just how big a brand-spankin’ new baby rat is, here are all eight of them, lined up on my hand. They were about seventeen hours old at the moment we took this photo.


Eight Bellies Up

The picture is a little on the blue side, the flash didn’t fire because they were under an Ott Lite.

As you can see, they vary in size a little. So far, the runts are every bit as lively as the big’uns.

That whitish crescent you can see on their left sides (right side of each as you look at the picture) is called the milk line. That’s literally the milk they’ve consumed, visible through their skin. It’s a handy way to make sure that the newborns are getting fed enough. Some of these little ones have obviously filled up more than others, but they’re all eating.

By our best evaluation at this moment, we seem to have an evenly divided family: four boys, four girls. We’ll see if that holds up as the genders become easier to tell.

Meanwhile, Mom Brynn is absolutely at ease with us. She seems to have no issues about us handling the babies at all, though we do still move her to a carrier in another room when we go in for a big, look-everyone-over session. But every now and then, I’ve had occasion to notice that one baby has wound up away from the nest – probably still attached to mom when she came rushing to the door for attention. Just today, I reached in and picked up the stray babe, and held it out to Brynn on the flat of my fingers. She calmly picked the baby up, took it back to the nest, then came back to me for a quick skritch.

Calmest darned mom I’ve experienced yet. I’m not going to delude myself that all mom rats will be like Brynn – Net-Net sure showed us that. But she’s being an absolute delight, loves us being around, and still is giving her babies very good care.

Brynn has bonded pretty heavily with Gryphon, too. Her cage is on a little cart with wheels, so we sometimes wheel her right over to our chairs and let her come out and snuggle, climb over us, etc. Gryphon did that yesterday, and she had a grand time. But when it was time to put her in the cage, she plastered herself to the walls inside and chewed the bars, climbing everywhere and making it clear she wanted to come back out.

I think my husband has a new girlfriend! I had Brynn out for a similar session this afternoon, and she wasn’t anywhere near as frantic when I put her back. Should I be jealous?

Meet the Babies!

Filed under: Mainely Rat Rescue,Rats! — folkcat at 4:11 pm on Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Here they are – just about nine hours old!

Eight healthy, squeaky little eepers total. The first arrived at 3:32 a.m. The last, a little under 2 hours later.

No guess as to genders yet. The differences are extremely subtle at this age, and Gryphon and I don’t have trained eyes for it yet.

All have light colored eyes, which hints that they will all be beige, with no idea of what their markings will be yet. A full litter of blondes, just like Mom & Dad!

Brynn is doing well. She’s lively and eager for attention again this morning, and has even let us take her out of the cage for brief snuggles. She is comfortable with us reaching into the cage, and even poking gently around the nest.

We obviously acclimated her well to our presence before the babies arrived. In fact, she is so comfortable here that she refused to nest in the little hut, instead preferring to build her paper pile out in the open. We’ve taken the hut out altogether now to make room in the cage – we can always add it back later if she seems to need it.

Brynn is a good mother. She handled the birth like a pro, and is very attentive to the needs of the babes. To see that, and still have the mother affectionate and eager for attention from humans, is pretty astonishing.

I did get some video during the birth, but I have yet to have time to look at the footage and see if it shows anything worth sharing. I’ll be sure to post it if it’s good.

And here’s your parting shot – Brynn and some of the babies, during the middle of the process last night. Mom took every chance she could to collapse, exhausted, and rest up for the next arrival.

Brynn Baby Watch, Over – Brynn Baby Watching, Begun!

Could Be For Real This Time

Filed under: Mainely Rat Rescue,Rats! — folkcat at 3:24 am on Tuesday, December 30, 2008

This was the scene about four hours ago:

Brynn began enthusiastically gathering the paper towels and tissues we’d given her, making a poufy ring of soft stuff.

This is the scene right now, 2:20 a.m. Eastern time:

Brynn has settled in on her side. When we come to look in on her, she barely lifts her head to acknowledge our presence. Before, she would be climbing the walls to get our attention.

This really could be it!

Hurry Up and Wait!

Filed under: Rats! — folkcat at 4:11 pm on Monday, December 29, 2008

Brynn’s a bit of a tease. Well, not really. I’ve learned that she was positively determined to be pregnant two days after her sister, Winter. Winter gave birth yesterday – that makes tomorrow a more likely day for Brynn.

Dad is apparently either Brynn’s brother or father. Both are beige hooded rats, like Brynn. There are also berkshires in the family line, as well as the colors blue (gray) and black. So no telling what we’ll get.

Meanwhile, Brynn seems very calm about the whole thing. In fact, being near full term pregnant hasn’t slowed her down a bit!

I’ll bet any of you who have had children wish you could have been this agile near the end!

Still Waiting

Filed under: Rats! — folkcat at 1:27 am on Monday, December 29, 2008

Since I last posted, Brynn settled comfortably into her hammock, and has barely moved from there all day. There’s an occasional foray for food and water, and sometimes a little fussing with the tissues and paper towels we’ve offered for nest material, but always back up into the hammock.

Her sister, Winter, has had a total of nine babies. Three girls, and six boys.

Meanwhile, the humans in our household aren’t the only ones with a voyeuristic curiosity about the maternity cage.

Fortunately, Brynn has a nice little hut she can crawl into for some privacy when the actual event finally happens!

It’s a little past midnight now, and Gryphon and I will soon be going to bed. How many rats will we wake up to? We’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see!

Any Time Now!

Filed under: Rats! — folkcat at 6:08 pm on Sunday, December 28, 2008

Brynn Baby Watch: Day Two

There are several reasons we think the babies could arrive any minute.

  1. Brynn’s belly has expanded again.

  2. She’s getting twitchy and restless, frequently stopping to wash her belly.

  3. She’s popping in and out of the little hut, like she thinks she wants to be in there but she’s not really sure.

  4. We’ve just had an e-mail notifying us that her sister, Winter, is in labor – nine babies and counting! Since they all conceived at the same time, that could be our strongest indication.

I promise I’ll post promptly when things actually start to happen, and there will be pictures as soon as it’s reasonable to do so.

Brynn Baby Watch, Day Two: Imminent!

The Folkcat & Gryphon Home for Wayward Teen Ratgirls

Filed under: Mainely Rat Rescue,Rats! — folkcat at 3:38 pm on Saturday, December 27, 2008

BRYNN BABY WATCH, DAY ONE

This is the face of teen pregnancy.

Say “Hello!” to Brynn. At best guess, she’s all of about 3 months old. Maybe a little more. Since rats aren’t considered fully mature until they’re around 6 months old, that makes Brynn a teenager.

Brynn and her sisters had a dalliance with a boy, and all three wound up pregnant. They’re babies having babies. MRR asked us to step in and foster one of the moms, and raise the litter.

That’s how Brynn wound up coming home with us last night. She’s set up in a little cage of her own, right near the Seven Little Ratties and their castle. Everyone can see each other, and there’s been much hovering at the nearest cage walls and staring. I think it’s actually comforting to Brynn to have other rats nearby, since her short life has mainly been spent in the company of her sisters. With her pregnancy, she’s suddenly been thrown into relative isolation.

Unlike our previous foster mom, Net-Net, Brynn is turning out to be an absolutely friendly, social, darling. Within minutes of arriving home, she had already been out on my shoulder. By the end of the first evening, she had given me the ultimate sign of Rattie approval – she peed on my arm. Either that, or she wanted to make sure she could find her way back down to the cage. I’ll take either one.

Today, she voluntarily comes out of the cage for skritches and snuggles, and she doesn’t squabble at all if we reach in and pick her up. This promises to be a very different experience. Plus, we get to see it complete, from before the arrival of the babies. And you get to come along for the ride!

Brynn is due any day now. We don’t have an exact date for when she conceived, and rat pregnancies last about 3 weeks. She and her sisters did have their bellies get visibly large last Monday, which is usually a sign that we’re getting close. So far, though, she’s holding the babies in. I think we may have a few more days, she hasn’t even started building a nest from the paper towels in her cage yet.

BRYNN BABY WATCH, DAY ONE – STILL WAITING!

Room at the Inn

Filed under: Mainely Rat Rescue,Rats! — folkcat at 6:51 pm on Thursday, December 25, 2008

Everyone, please meet Brynn:

All belly, isn’t she? There’s a good reason for that. Brynn, along with two of her sisters, is pregnant, and due to drop the babies any minute now. It seems that the three girls, quite accidentally, got to spend an entire hour with a boy. Clearly, that was enough time to cause a lot of trouble!

Since they’re all foster rats with Mainely Rat Rescue, this set off a scramble to find foster homes that could deal with raising surprise litters. Gryphon and I have offered to take Brynn. We’ll be picking her up tomorrow. Whether she’s the only rat we’ll pick up tomorrow depends on how long her belly can hold those babies in!

Yes, yes – you can expect blind baby ratlet pictures! Just give me a few days to get them home and settled in!

Merry Christmas!

Best Holiday Video I’ve seen Yet

Filed under: Holidays — folkcat at 5:48 pm on Thursday, December 18, 2008

Okay, folks – you know I don’t do this often. But I think this is my favorite holiday video ever, mostly because I’m extraordinarily fond of people who do goofy things with everyday objects.

It’s essential that you play the audio on this one, or it won’t make any sense whatsoever. So be careful if you’re at work or someplace. Or gather everyone around to watch.

Enjoy!

Found via Heat Eat Review

The Return of the Light

Filed under: Daily Life,Holidays,Rats! — folkcat at 6:32 pm on Monday, December 15, 2008

We’re okay. Lots of other people are still without power. There are advantages to living in the heart of downtown, especially when you’re on the same portion of the power grid as, oh, the police department and town hall.

Our power came back Saturday afternoon at about 2:30 p.m., 37 hours after it went off. During the interim, we had no lights, no internet, no television, no heat, no hot water. We kept one room warm with an oil lamp with a mantle, but could only burn that while we were awake or present.

The good news is we saved all our perishable foods. We woke up – artificially early for us – at around 7:30 a.m. on Friday, resolved not to open the fridge or freezer, and immediately left to find ice. We moved quickly enough on that to find the nearest supermarket open in emergency mode. Three 15-lb. bags of ice were stuffed quickly into the compartments, one in the freezer, two in the fridge, and we didn’t open the doors again for the duration. After the refrigerator had a while to run again once power came back, we checked – everything is still okay.

Otherwise, Friday was spent in a series of forays into the outside world, hoping to find news, batteries, restaurants that had power and could serve food, food we could eat at home without refrigeration or heating. We weren’t very successful in most of these efforts – many of the places we hoped for were in some power corridors that were severely damaged, and so they weren’t open. Others ran out of supplies quickly. We never did turn up the spare bottle of lamp oil we wanted.

We did get Friday brunch at a local diner – all the fast-food places were in pockets that had no power. Friday dinner was eaten at a Chinese restaurant in a plaza that was on.

By Saturday, after all of Friday’s fuss, I was feeling unwell enough to refuse to go anywhere. I stayed huddled in the one warm room, the living room, with the oil lamp and the Ratties and a battery-operated radio we’d dug out, listening to Car Talk and Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, while Gryphon took an insulated lunch bag and fetched burgers and fries home from Wendy’s.

The power came back on while we ate those.

Sunday was spent in pajama-day mode, relaxing and taking comfort in being able to do normal things. Today, I’m still trying to catch up on feeds and reads online.

We did venture out this afternoon for a rehab appointment for Gryphon and some errands. Along the way, we could see many spots that were still without power. One stretch of the main road coming into Wilton was closed through Friday and Saturday, but had been reopened by this morning. Still, you could see the homes there were dark. In one spot, the power feed had ripped off the house and was laying across the road for cars to drive across. The street light on that pole was hanging at a sad, unnatural angle.

Another utility pole on the same stretch had snapped in two halfway up its height, and the top half hung there, precariously leaning on the lines. A fresh pole appeared to be standing next to it, so the pole crew at least had been through, but now we need the electrical experts to actually move the connections and lines over.

Everywhere, there are piles of splintered branches along the road, ripped limbs hanging off lines, snapped tree trunks glaring in the midst of wooded patches. Businesses that are open have put out signs especially for the occasion. One natural food store/greenhouse read “Hot Coffee, Warm Greenhouse, Only Slightly Smelly Staff”, an allusion to the fact that so many people are still without hot water or heat at home and have trouble showering. Other signs were as simple as “We Have Power”, “We’re Open”. Spots that advertise “Free WiFi” have full parking lots.

The first topic of conversation among strangers – and we’re all chatting with each other as we wait in long lines at fast-food counters and supermarket checkout lanes – is “Do you have power?” The answer for far too many is “no.”

This storm has done a lot of damage. Friday we encountered one man in the supermarket who told of how a tree came down and took out half his house and two vehicles. This was in a part of our town called Wilton Center, which used to be where town hall and everything were located until the railroad came through by the river. Wilton Center is up on a large hill, connected to the rest of the world by twisting, winding roads. He told us his family had to “four-wheel it out” to get to civilization.

I am sure the impact of the damage hadn’t really hit him yet, because he seemed to be in amused amazement as he spoke. Almost even giddy, I thought. I hate to think what’s happened to him as the reality of it all sank in later.

Bottom line, though, we’re okay, the Seven Little Ratties are okay, we have food, heat, electricity, and we’re starting to feel like things are almost normal again. Such as they are. Oh, and we also did one of our few bits of holiday shopping today – we stopped into the local candy maker and each picked out an assortment of special treats to enjoy through the season. Including Gryphon’s traditional giant candy cane – I’d guess about eighteen inches long, an inch or more thick, and all handmade, hand twisted peppermint goodness. It’s excessive, but he wants for so little that we go for it.

In Rattie news – five out of seven ratties have been observed running in the Wodent Wheel on more than one occasion each. That’s everyone except for Lola, who may be a little plump to fit inside comfortably, and Yuri, who’s slow to accept new things. Who knew?!?

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