This article is from the Spring 2003 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.
Casey Kulhawik, Jenison, MI
QI recently bought a pet rat and I have been enjoying the wonderful companionship that we have formed. There is one problem though. Blaze (my rat) seems to be quite depressed. He just lays around and doesn’t enjoy the things he used to enjoy as much. He still loves to play and he loves to interact with me, but he isn’t as happy as he was. This all started when my boyfriend left me. Blaze and my boyfriend were very close and now, the boyfriend never comes over so Blaze doesn’t get to see him anymore. I really think that Blaze misses him. I put a picture of the boyfriend up on the wall of the cage and Blaze just kind of sleeps under it and when he is awake, he looks up at the picture. I don’t know what to do. I have tried playing with him more and giving him double the attention, but he doesn’t seem to be improving. Do you have any suggestions of things that I can do to make him feel better?
Also, could you please send me a list of items that are essential for a good rat first aid kit? I want to learn how to take care of Blaze to the best of my ability and I could really use a list of things and maybe even some first aid tips. I think that would be very beneficial to my rat’s health.
AIt definitely sounds like your rat misses your boyfriend. Have you explained to your rat about your boyfriend’s leaving and not coming back and acknowledge his sadness? It may help. Giving him LOTS of attention on your part, finding things for him to do like making a play pen for him (see the Fall ’99 issue pg. 21), getting him some toys or new ones if he already has some or making toys that he has to work at to get into, or perhaps getting him a new rat companion. Yes, rats do have feelings and KNOW their owners and show depression/ sadness, and excitement/recognition. I’ve seen it many times when I baby-sit rats for other people. It may take your rat a while to get used to the idea of your boyfriend not being there, so be patient. You might also take the picture down so he is not reminded of his missing friend.
You can find our “First-Aid Kit” instructions in the Summer I ’98 issue page 17. In brief, you will need a box, towel, hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, iodine, Blue Kote, Bag Balm, Terramycin Ointment, Ivermectin, Tylan powder, cat flea powder, cat flea shampoo, something to stop minor bleeding, Q-Tips, cotton balls, scissors, scalpel, fingernail clippers, eye dropper, syringe, strong smelling substance, Nutrical, Band-Aids, etc. Karen Robbins
From Anne Carter, Ann Arbor, MI
QAFRMA has been a great help. I especially want to thank you for the info about bedding. My mice are now a year old. My other mice never lived this long, dying due to respiratory problems. I graduated high school in June and started working. Currently I’m working in a flower shop where there are tons of wild mice. It’s funny to me that for some reason the wild mice scare me!
I’m getting distracted in writing this because I keep staring at my little cuties! They are Lucy, a cream-colored Brindle, and Paddington, a tan. Unfortunately, my other mouse Jules passed away a few months before her 1 year.
I have a couple of questions. I was wondering if you could answer for me.
My tan mouse developed some sort of tail problem a while back in which the end of his tail became hard and brittle. It basically became nothing and dropped off. It healed quite well. I was wondering what this was.
There is a part two to this question. It has been several months since this happened. One day I found that the cage, mostly the bedding was bloody. At first I found nothing wrong with either of my mice. Later I caught my female mouse chewing on my male’s tail (the tan). I stopped the bleeding and put some ointment on it and separated them. He seems fine although he’s lost some of his tail due to both situations. Why would the female do this? I want to find him a new friend because he seems to be happier with a female friend.
My female (Brindle) has gotten quite chunky (she likes to steal my male’s food). I was wondering if and how I could put her on a diet. I know some of the obesity is genetic, but is it too late to help her out.
Thanks for all your help. Keep up the great articles and stories.
AYour male must have injured his tail somehow and it became hard and brittle because that part died. A rat can lose the skin on their tail and if you don’t have that part amputated, it will dry up and eventually fall off.
I also had a female mouse do the tail chewing thing. She was in a cage with one male and several females. They had all lived together without incident for 2 or 3 months and then she just decided to get aggressive. All I can think is that it may be hormonal. It would be best to keep this little girl on her own. If you decide to get your male a new friend, make sure she is healthy before putting her with him. I would suggest quarantining her for 3 weeks in another part of the house. The tail chewing has been seen in males as well (those that live with other mice or by themselves), so its not just a female problem.
I don’t think there is much you can do to correct the obesity of the Brindle mouse without making her miserable. Just no fatty foods such as nuts or sunflower seeds. Helen Pembrook