Cute little guy, isn’t he? That’s what he looked like on March 15, the night we picked him up from his owner.
Here’s a look at his lovely markings. Marbles is a black blazed hooded rat. He’s got a lovely spattering of spots, and a beautiful white blaze up the middle of his forehead.
As for Marbles’ story, it’s a bit of a sad one. Marbles is about 4 months, one week old now. He came home from the pet store with another cagemate, Pancake, when he was two months old, to be companions for the aging solitary boy Nibbles.
Over the course of the next two months, Pancake grew about twice the size that Marbles did. In fact, Marbles didn’t really seem to grow at all. Nibbles died shortly after Pancake and Marbles came into the house. And Pancake turned out to be very aggressive with poor little Marbles.
Aggressive, as in, Marbles couldn’t be in the same cage with Pancake without being attacked, immediately and mercilessly.
Their owner, poor girl, was distraught. She didn’t have room to keep two cages. She wasn’t really even supposed to have pets in her apartment to begin with. Plus, she regularly traveled back and forth between Massachusetts and Canada, and her pets traveled with her. She didn’t have room for two cages in her car.
She was able to separate the two boys in a makeshift way, stuffing fabric into the passage between two levels of their cage. I’m told Marbles began gaining a little weight after that. But it was still not an ideal solution.
The easy decision would have been to keep sweet, darling, friendly little Marbles, and give aggressive bully Pancake up to another home. But no – their owner made the difficult, but very loving and generous, decision to surrender Marbles instead. She didn’t want to burden Mainely Rat Rescue with a hard to place rat.
Could I have done the same? I can only hope so, but I’m not real sure. Many karma blessings upon her, she has earned them!
Back to Marbles. He was so sweet when his owner handed him over to me! He climbed right up on my shoulder under my jacket and stayed there for the entire ride home. By the time we got to the house, my left ear had been thoroughly examined, and my arm had been peed on.
Marbles stayed on my shoulder for about a half hour altogether, while Gryphon set his cage up. Before putting him in, we did a weigh-in to see just how little he was. 140 grams, or about 5 ounces. Assuming his owner was told correctly that he was two months old when she bought him, that’s way behind for a four month old. The one chart I’ve been able to find suggests he should have been more like 380 grams. That means he was about one-third the size you’d expect for a normal, healthy male rat.
The primary theory is that he simply didn’t have easy access to food while he was being beaten up regularly. He’s certainly making up for lost time, now that he has his own food dishes and doesn’t have to fight over them. We weighed him again on the 22nd, and in one week’s time, he’d gone from 140 to 220 grams. That’s 80 grams of weight added, over 50% of his starting weight!
We’ve been getting to know Marbles over the last ten days. Not that he’s hard to connect with! I think he’d pretty much bonded with me by the end of that first evening. His owner told us he liked shoulder rides, and enjoyed getting his belly rubbed. I’ve been giving him plenty of opportunities to crawl around on me, under my sweater, and more.
Within the first twenty-four hours, we were comfortable enough with him to change his name. Marbles quickly became Captain Marbles! (Shazam!) Gryphon now refers to him as “Cap” or “Cappy”, and I call him by any or all parts of his name. Or “Buddy-boy”. Or “Sweetheart”.
Tickle chase is a big favorite game. Unlike other rats we’ve played that with, he actually turns around and grabs your fingers now and then to lick them, then runs off to be chased again. If you can catch him in a quiet moment and rub his belly, he’ll flop over on his side a bit and close his eyes while he enjoys it.
No offense to the Octo-Ratties, but Marbles is one of the snuggliest ratties we’ve ever encountered. Is it any wonder, then, that we fell in love at first sight?
That’s right – only a month after Isabella joined the colony and turned the Seven Little Ratties into the Octo-Ratties, we’re adopting a boy. He’ll have to live separately for a bit – as you can see in the last picture above, Marbles still, well – he has his marbles. Those will need to come off before he can enjoy the company of our six lovely girls. There’s a three week wait after surgery, too.
We are fairly confident he’ll be accepted into the colony, however. Marbles has had playdates with both of our neutered boys, Yuri and Leonardo, separately in neutral territory. Both of the big boys showed some slight curiosity, but not a lick of aggression.
As for the Captain, our biggest fear was that he’d be afraid of other rats now. In fact, he’s not the least bit scared – he was the first one to march up to either of the big guys and check them out! Marbles seems to know that his previous cagemate was not quite the norm for rat society, and he’s eager to make new friends.
Marbles is probably going for his operation next week. Three weeks later, it will be safe to start getting him better acquainted with all the Octo-Ratties. Soon enough, they’ll all be one big, happy family.
The only thing I’m not sure of – what do we call them when there are nine? Any suggestions?