The fostering adventure begins! We picked up Net-Net and babies from her owner around noon, and brought them straight home. Here’s what the brood looked like at the age of nine days:
Net-Net is a very protective mother, and takes very good care of her babies. In no time at all, she had figured out that however difficult change might be, this was where she was raising her babies now. She made a huge nest inside the plastic igloo hut with the ratlets deep at the back.
I’ve learned the hard way how nippy mother rats can be. Net-Net got her teeth into the pad of my right index finger when my hand came too near the igloo for her liking. Then later, as I tried to move a food dish to another location, she got a solid bite in on the lowest knuckle of my left index finger. I could swear I heard her teeth hit bone, though it may merely have been my startled imagination. (Don’t worry – I’m okay, the wounds are small, and my shots are completely up to date.)
Net-Net is otherwise adapting as well as can be expected. And she’s actually pretty friendly – she is readily taking food from my fingers (and even leaving the fingers behind). And she lets me pick her up if I need to, without struggling. She’s clearly a well-socialized rattie. Just a bit hormonal. Who could blame her?
I learned from Net-Net’s owner that there are two possible dads. Net-Net herself is a petite, adorable, black varieberk. (Here’s a link to a nice guide to rat markings: Rat Markings by Emily of EaglesEye Rattery.) The two dads are both beige, one is a self and the other a varieberk as well. One of them is a dumbo rat, with the large ears that sit low on the side of the head – like our own Lola. This last detail is important, it turns out!
I moved Net-Net into a small pet carrier temporarily so I could handle and photograph the babies. I took “portrait” shots, as well as belly shots. This will be the start of my education in identifying both markings and, most importantly, gender.
On my preliminary, uneducated look, I believe we have five females and four males. As best I can tell with my inexperienced eye, they all seem to have dumbo ears – which is probably the best paternity test we could have under the circumstances.
Here for your maximum daily cuteness requirement (MDCR) are the portrait shots of all nine babies:
I have names in mind, but I’m going to wait for the folks at MRR to help confirm my identifications before I assign them. Watch this space for more details – and of course, more pictures!
Net-Net at Mainely Rat Rescue
If you want to learn more about Net-Net and her babies, and how to adopt them (or any of the many other available rats), please visit Mainely Rat Rescue on the web. They have a special page just for Net-Net’s Nest!