Laura and Trixie, former foster daughters up to the point where they were four and a half weeks old, came home with us Monday night. Time elapsed between the intial e-mail and collecting them from their adoptive parents was only about eight hours.
It’s a sad situation. The woman who adopted them planned well, worked with her boyfriend to make an excellent cage and everything, took care of them right. What she couldn’t anticipate was that her sister is allergic to them.
The girls were moved out to the boyfriend’s apartment – a dicey proposition at best, because he’s not allowed to have pets. As if that weren’t bad enough, then he turned out to be allergic.
Not sure where else to turn, they went back to Mainely Rat Rescue. The MRR coordinator knew we didn’t have any fosters currently, and that it could be really good to get them back to a familiar home, so she contacted us.
Gryphon and I didn’t hesitate to say yes. Connections were made with the adopters, and we collected them the same night.
Sending them to a familiar home was a good idea. They are well socialized, and the smells of our apartment were probably so familiar, that less than five minutes after arriving they were sitting on my shoulder, munching on cereal flakes.
We kept the girls in the cage they came with, one that the adopters had built from scratch for them. (They did an excellent job!) Laura and Trixie settled in quickly, and were immediately comfortable coming out for cuddle sessions.
Meanwhile, Gryphon and I had already sort of decided we wanted to keep the girls. We always regretted that we couldn’t justify keeping a pair from this litter when we had them the first time, so it felt a bit like destiny that Laura and Trixie came back to us. The adopters told of how Trixie sulked when they had to move them to the boyfriend’s apartment, too, because she missed their people. Gryphon and I agreed that it would be nice to keep them from further home-hopping, and just keep them with us.
Since their cage sat next to our main cage, I was able to observe how the rats in each cage reacted to each other. There was much curious peeking, but no dominance behaviors that I could detect. Wednesday night, I decided I was comfortable trying to make introductions.
I had learned of a technique where you simply put all the rats in question into a large carrier together. And leave them there. Just leave them. Some people recommend all day long. Other suggestions include taking them for a drive in the car, taking them for a walk, anything that makes for a strange situation for all of them together.
Since I was inspired late at night, I simply put them in the carrier and left it on the floor by my chair while I continued knitting and watching television.
It worked. There was much milling around. Some minor interactions that caused a few squeaks. Mostly, though, everyone just anxiously puttered around the carrier until they finally huddled in a mass in one corner.
After an hour, we decided we were good to go. We did some straightening of the franken-cage, changed out a couple of hammocks, and added Laura and Trixie’s litter-box. (Oh, yeah – their adoptive family did so well with them they’re litter-trained! Maybe they can teach the rest a thing or two!) Refresh the food, add the Ratties, and *poof*. All seven Ratties living in one happy family.
Well, mostly happy. Lola, elderly matriarch that she is, spent a lot of time posturing and boxing with Laura, who apparently comes across as the most threatening of the two new girls. They never got serious, though, and by this morning, Lola had begrudgingly accepted that the new kids are warm, fuzzy, and good enough to sleep with.
Everyone else was soundly sleeping when I took this next picture, but Laura and Trixie were up and about wondering what Mom was up to. As you can see, Laura loves the camera!
So, now we are nine – Gryphon, me, and seven Ratties. Five of which have “L” names, and I swear that was accidental! In order, from oldest to youngest, they are: Lola, Leonardo, Yuri, Lily, Laurel, Laura, and Trixie.
But wait – doesn’t the franken-cage only hold five? Well, yes. Seven rats will be okay in there for a few days. We can’t afford to buy anything much right now, but sometimes life hands you what you need, and within a few days we’re hoping to have a rather larger cage to house the Perma-Ratties in together. Our obligation in return is to continue fostering other rats on a regular basis, something we’re more than happy to do anyhow.
Sometimes, parts of your life just work out right. Two of our girls came home, not just for the holidays, but for good. Karma contrives to bring us the means to keep them, and to help other ratties as well.
I can live with that!