Dealing with the loss of cagemate

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Cherokee Rose
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Dealing with the loss of cagemate

Post by Cherokee Rose » Sat Jan 07, 2017 2:48 pm

Hi everyone! I hope that some of you experienced rattie owners can help me with a little problem I have with my girl, Indie. Just over a week ago, her only cagemate and sister, Skyler, had to be put to sleep. She was only 1.9 years old, but her health quickly deteriorated over Christmas until she could barely move. I suspected this to be due to PT, as she struggled to hold her food and could not climb the cage bars for a week or so before she passed away. I miss her like crazy and think of her every single day! :cry: I can only imagine what this loss must be like for her sister! Now, I'm left in a bit of a troublesome predicament. I know rats are sociable creatures, so I've been giving Indie lots of extra TLC in the hope of helping her cope with Skyler's loss. She seems to be doing okay (she was always the more independent and dominant rat), but I feel just terrible! Can anyone suggest any toys/things I can get her or do to break any boredom she may feel when I can't play with her? I've been thinking about getting her a wheel to run on, but so far I've heard mixed reviews about it. Any ideas? Also, I am unable to get any more rats at this time.
Any help is much appreciated!

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Mayamy
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Re: Dealing with the loss of cagemate

Post by Mayamy » Sat Jan 07, 2017 6:33 pm

If she's in good health, at under 2 years old, if there is any way for her to have ratty company - be it trying to foster or something else, then I'd strongly recommend at least looking into all possible options as I assume otherwise she has to spend a significant amount of time alone.

As far as toys go, I'd look into enrichment feeding, to make it take longer and add some variety. Assuming she has a dry mix, you can do things as simple as wrapping it in bits of paper/boxes or more complicated actual foraging toys. A bit of pasta on a string, an occasional nut in a shell etc. A wheel is a possibility, although I don't know how likely she is to learn to use one at her age if she's never seen one before - look for 12"+ ones like the Silent Spinner which aren't too badly sized for girls. This article might be useful for other kinds cage enrichment to think about :)
Amy - with Pixel, Dora, Ren, Vex, Nova & Tali

Cherokee Rose
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Re: Dealing with the loss of cagemate

Post by Cherokee Rose » Sat Jan 07, 2017 10:58 pm

Thank you for your advice!
Unfortunately, as much as I'd like to, I can't take any more of the little guys on, as there are no fostering programmes around were I stay (I live in a more rural area) and I don't want to commit to another rattie as there will always be one left behind when the other passes.
I love the idea of macaroni on a string and the other useful tips you posted! Indie has always been a little firecracker, and even now, she loves to run around in her free-roam time, so maybe I will give the 12" wheel a try! At the moment she gets a good amount of attention. She has free range of the kitchen for an hour each day, plus another hour of 'cuddle time' when I'm sitting in bed. I have started to tickle her fur in an attempt to mimic grooming, which usual prompts her to lick my hands, which is super cute! :)
Once again, I cannot thank you enough for your advice!

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cyber ratty
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Re: Dealing with the loss of cagemate

Post by cyber ratty » Sun Jan 08, 2017 11:18 am

If you genuinely have no way of providing her with rat companionship, then I'm afraid the only ethical thing to do is to find a new home for her where she will have rat companions. I appreciate that would be hard for you, but it's what she needs, and her needs should come first.

However, you don't have to keep finding yourself in the same situation - if you get a trio of baby girls asap, then when your numbers eventually reduce down to two, get another pair of babies, and in this way you can maintain a rolling group and no rat is ever left on their own. :luck:

Cherokee Rose
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Re: Dealing with the loss of cagemate

Post by Cherokee Rose » Sun Jan 08, 2017 1:11 pm

Again, thanks for the advice!
I completely understand your opinion of finding her a new home, but Indie is so bonded with both myself and my family, it is not an option. Every time she's out, even from a baby, she's followed every step I make (which can be a bit tricky at times)! Besides, having just lost her sister, I don't think it will be fair for her to lose me as well (I'm a very doting rattie mom).
Still, I am monitoring her as best I can and have also asked my dad to open the cage door and let her run in his office while he does paperwork when I'm not around, which he doesn't mind. I can honestly say she is doing good being a lone rattie (I watch her for changes in behaviour, weight, etc.). She eats like a horse, plays like usual, and gets plenty of extra special hugs and cuddles! Like I said before, she has always been independent, so, as long as I can give her the attention and she's not showing any bad behavioural signs, all is fine.
My main concern was providing her with stimulating toys to occupy her while I am asleep, of which you guys have kindly given me some great ideas!

petty254-
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Re: Dealing with the loss of cagemate

Post by petty254- » Sun Feb 12, 2017 12:48 pm

First off i would recommend getting another rattie for company but since its not an option then may be a toy would help your rattie with some engaging activity. Although i have to let you know that a toy will not provide an overnight solution for your rat but might help your rat in coping with the loneliness. I got a spin will wheel for my rat a couple of months ago pretty functional and efficient and its been an awesome toy for my two boys, I hope this helps. This might help you sample the ideal wheel for your rat http://www.petstreetmall.com/Hamster-Wheel/5326/2131/. Let us know how it goes.

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bazu
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Re: Dealing with the loss of cagemate

Post by bazu » Sun Feb 12, 2017 1:07 pm

While a wheel is a great toy for rats in general, I would think that that one is far too small - I know the recommended size is a 12" wheel (or larger), as otherwise they have to arch their backs too much and carry their tail high and so forth, which I believe can cause health problems. For reference, this is a normal-sized girl running in a 12" wheel - imagine nearly halving the width of that wheel! :shock: (That wheel is the Silent Spinner, and I've also seen the Wodent Wheel and 'flying saucer' types recommended)

I would also add my support to mayamy and cyber ratty's advice re: the need for companionship, but outside of that frequent stimulation is the next best thing - just be aware that near-obsessive use of a wheel or similar can be indicative of depression; it essentially becomes an emotional crutch, much in the same vein as addiction in humans.
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cyber ratty
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Re: Dealing with the loss of cagemate

Post by cyber ratty » Mon Feb 13, 2017 10:14 am

petty254- wrote:I got a spin will wheel for my rat a couple of months ago pretty functional and efficient and its been an awesome toy for my two boys, I hope this helps. This might help you sample the ideal wheel for your rat http://www.petstreetmall.com/Hamster-Wheel/5326/2131/. Let us know how it goes.
That wheel is not only far too small for rats as Bazu has pointed out, but the design with bars as the running track is also very dangerous, rats can get their tails caught and get badly injured. A wheel for a rat must always have a solid running track, and be at least 12" in diameter. It is better to not have a wheel at all than to have one like that - please take it out.

The cheapest option I'm aware of is this Trixie Giant, but I do prefer the open design of a silent spinner so that rats are able to leap in and out (mine love doing that!). If you're not in the UK, then I'm sure there will be equivalent suitable options available for you.

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Squirrel
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Re: Dealing with the loss of cagemate

Post by Squirrel » Mon Feb 13, 2017 4:39 pm

Would it be possible to adopt a ratty of a similar age ie 18 months? That way, whoever goes first, the other is less likely to be on her own for as long. I'm so sorry for your loss of Skyler.
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