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 Post subject: It was all going so well!
 Post Posted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 9:13 am 
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Joined: Thu Aug 10, 2017 9:39 pm
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Location: Bristol, UK
Hi again guys,

So a couple of weeks ago I introduced my old girl Fable, who is quite disabled, to my group of three 12 week old youngsters using the carrier method, and all went unbelievably well.

They have been in the big cage for about a week now, and while Fable has not really been able to keep up with the youngsters she has been curling up with one every so often and nothing seemed to be amiss.

This morning at about half 1 I was woken up by squeaks - not the scrappy squeaks but squeals of pain and fright. I jolted out of bed and run over to the cage where I found Fable laying under a water bottle looking utterly traumatised, barely breathing and not moving,, with the girls swarming all over her. I shooed them off her - I honestly thought she was going to pass away on me then..! I saw a couple of wounds on her nape and shoulder and removed her from the cage instantly, soothing her and cuddling her, then checked her wounds over and bathed them.

I have put her in the smaller cage again away from the girls. I don't know what caused it or who started it. Did they gang up on her because of her disability? Because she is so much weaker and can't interact with them?

Once she was in the small cage she perked up and took food that I offered her.

What's happened here..? I am devastated :(

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RatMum to 4 beautiful girls - Fable, Myth, Nox and Solstice <3


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 Post subject: Re: It was all going so well!
 Post Posted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 4:24 pm 
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I'm really not an expert (does anyone with actual experience want to chime in? :? ) but that doesn't sound terribly likely to me. A harmonious colony doesn't strike me as being likely to suddenly descend into the Ides of March overnight. If there was going to be a massive fallout in a rat colony, I'd expect increased tensions to precede it.

My suspicion (again, not an expert, just filling space :P) is that something happened to Fable (a stroke? a seizure?) and the others came to investigate and/or attack. Rats apparently do sometimes turn aggressive towards ill colony members (it's a protective measure, in case whatever the ill member has is contagious) but that doesn't seem terribly common, at least not in domestic rats. And if everyone has been living happily together for a while, I wouldn't expect the youngsters to suddenly change their minds, unless something scary happened with Fable in the night.

Alternatively, they could have just been trying to see what's happened to Fable, not meaning her any harm. What was their body language like when you found them? Were they actively attacking her, or were they relaxed and just climbing on her? Or something else? Rats can get wounds in a number of ways – what sort of wounds were they and how were they placed? If you can post photos, more experienced eyes than mine might be able to work out where she got them from.

How is Fable now? Regardless of what's happened, she could probably do with some nice food and drink. :hearts:

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Poo-shoveller to: Zephyr Delanynder, Lia, and Lita.
Fondly remembering: Falere the contrary NLA36, Mirala the best and finest NLA36, Zephyr Opold the serene, and Rila the rodentist.
Avatar by Ursula Vernon.


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 Post subject: Re: It was all going so well!
 Post Posted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 6:52 pm 
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Joined: Thu Aug 10, 2017 9:39 pm
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Location: Bristol, UK
Ah, I am not sure if anything happened to her, her demeanour doesn't appear to have changed, but I have noticed her back legs have deteriorated since I have had her. They both drag behind now whereas before she could pull both underneath her....I am worried now if it was the right thing to do to take her away from the group. But they did draw blood.

One of the girls was in the dominant stance - pinning her down by her neck - and Fable was letting out shrieks of pain. Another girls was hanging off the bars and the other was standing on Fable's belly. She (Fable) was lying on her side. After the girls were shooed away she didn't (or couldn't) move - her eyes were wide open (I could see the whites) and all of her legs were twitching.

They had just been cleaned out that day and two of the girls are currently in heat - chasing each other round the cage and pouncing and squeaking at each other..!

Her wounds are a bite between her shoulder blades and one further down on her shoulder muscle, such as it is!

She seems fine at the moment. She has slowed down a little though. Bumbling around in her cage digging - she has had a bit of spinach and some chicken is cooking in the oven as I speak :) going to be for me but I always share some with the girls, lol. With some brown rice.

Thank you for your answer though, it has been food for thought for sure!

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RatMum to 4 beautiful girls - Fable, Myth, Nox and Solstice <3


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 Post subject: Re: It was all going so well!
 Post Posted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 7:25 pm 
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Joined: Thu Aug 10, 2017 9:39 pm
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Now I have the girls out for playtime, the three youngsters, they do seem a bit odd tonight. Not as outgoing as usual. I don't know if this is to do with what happened - should I put Fable back, do you think?

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RatMum to 4 beautiful girls - Fable, Myth, Nox and Solstice <3


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 Post subject: Re: It was all going so well!
 Post Posted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 8:29 pm 
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When you say her legs were twitching, was it actual uncontrolled-looking twitching? If so, that suggests something neurological might have happened. Rats sometimes also kick if they're objecting to being pinned (as you may have observed!) so if it looked like she was doing it consciously and voluntarily then I wouldn't read too much into it.

Hind limb degeneration (HLD) is relatively common in older rats, and has a number of possible causes: http://www.isamurats.co.uk/hind-leg-degeneration.html
I did notice my old HLD girls' back legs would twitch slightly when they slept, which I always figured was related to their condition as I reckoned their HLD was due to nerve degeneration. But it only ever seemed to happen when they were unconscious, so that might not apply in Fable's case here.

If the youngsters did actually bite Fable (bite wounds are generally narrow but deep punctures) then I'd keep them separated for now. Incidentally, was it perchance the girls in heat who were pinning Fable and standing on her?

Based on what you've said my guess is still that something neurological happened with Fable, and the other three were freaked out by it. That could also explain their strange behaviour. I'd give Fable some calorie-dense food – chicken and rice is good, treating her to a bit of biscuit wouldn't hurt. Keep a close eye on her for anything like lack of coordination, particularly of the forelimbs, and confusion.

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Poo-shoveller to: Zephyr Delanynder, Lia, and Lita.
Fondly remembering: Falere the contrary NLA36, Mirala the best and finest NLA36, Zephyr Opold the serene, and Rila the rodentist.
Avatar by Ursula Vernon.


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 Post subject: Re: It was all going so well!
 Post Posted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 9:47 pm 
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Joined: Thu Aug 10, 2017 9:39 pm
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Location: Bristol, UK
I did read up on HLD :)

The previous foster carer, my cousin, suggested that her back legs don't work because she had been dropped a few times at her first home and roughly handled - not being taken to a vet because the owners couldn't afford it (but apparently could afford a lot of other animals. Go figure *rolls eyes*...) but it does correlate closely to HLD even though I was told Fable isn't that old (about a year and 4 months). I have a picture of her that I can post here at the bottom :)

When I recall it, you know, it could have been a seizure. Her back legs do twitch in her sleep as well, they always have, bless her.

I think all the girls are in heat now. They are always very bouncy and lively and are adolescents now so I imagine they have a lot of hormones and energy rushing around their growing bodies...they still seem a bit worried - they weren't as boisterous as usually earlier so they are now chilling back in their cage.

Fable did protest at them when they climbed all over her and stole her food (poor girl - I always made sure she had more when the youngsters were occupied..!)

*sighs* of course, I will keep a close eye on lovely Fable. I feel so bad for her. It is such a shame to have to remove her as she seemed genuinely happy to have company. Will it ever be OK to reintroduce her?

Thank you Cub for all your suggestions and help :)

Here are some pictures of my lovely girls -
Myth-
Image
Solstice and Nox -
Image
Nox and Myth -
Image
...and the lovely Fable -
Image
Image

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RatMum to 4 beautiful girls - Fable, Myth, Nox and Solstice <3


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 Post subject: Re: It was all going so well!
 Post Posted: Fri Aug 25, 2017 10:51 am 
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Again, not an expert, but I'd try reintroductions from the carrier stage once Fable's wounds have healed somewhat and the youngsters are no longer in season.

I'd take it very slow this time. If they behave themselves in the carrier they can probably move up to the small hamster cage after several hours, but I'd keep them in the hamster cage for longer this time. 72 hours is the minimum I've been taught, but given that blood has been drawn, I'd be tempted to leave them in there for a week. With 4 rats in a small cage, it'll get quite soiled in there, so what I'd advise is daily partial substrate changes: just remove the worst bits and then top up with fresh substrate. You want some old substrate in there to preserve the group's smells, but you also probably want to put good hygiene at a slightly higher priority since one of the residents is old and infirm.

Looking at older threads, it looks like the timeline went a bit like this?
16 August, afternoon: Start of introductions
18 August, evening: Move to final cage
24 August, middle of the night: Attack (?) on Fable

That's actually quite a short timeline, barely more than a week. Given that, I'll retract my previous statement about it being unlikely that the youngsters turned on Fable for no good reason, because I was assuming that the group had had a reasonable chunk of time together and had bonded well. It's actually quite a short time they've been together so far, and it's entirely possible that with a new-ish group and two youngsters going into season at the same time, possibly for the first time since moving into their nice spacious final cage, the group dynamic was given its first proper test and found wanting. (It's also still possible that something neurological happened with Fable to trigger it all, on top of a weakly bonded group and two hormonal teenagers.) So I'd keep a close eye on Fable in case she shows any signs of ongoing neurological problems (in which case she would benefit from seeing a vet), and take reintroductions very slowly.

_________________
Poo-shoveller to: Zephyr Delanynder, Lia, and Lita.
Fondly remembering: Falere the contrary NLA36, Mirala the best and finest NLA36, Zephyr Opold the serene, and Rila the rodentist.
Avatar by Ursula Vernon.


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 Post subject: Re: It was all going so well!
 Post Posted: Fri Aug 25, 2017 1:56 pm 
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Joined: Thu Aug 10, 2017 9:39 pm
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Location: Bristol, UK
Ah I did not realise it had only been a week, it seemed like longer..!

I will do as you suggested. Fable seems get old self again now so will restart introductions when I deem fit :)

Thank you again..!

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RatMum to 4 beautiful girls - Fable, Myth, Nox and Solstice <3


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