Sometimes you get more than what you bargained for
This story actually beings in April. My son, Tyler, age 17, is raising rats and Chester and Cyrus were his second pair. Suddenly, on a Friday, Chester got sick. We tried taking him to the vet, but they didn’t have an appointment until Monday. Unfortunately by Saturday, he had died.
Cyrus was devastated his litter mate was gone. When we presented Chester’s body to Cyrus before burying him, Cyrus kept kissing him. I never knew rats had such emotions, but apparently they do and it was heart-wrenching to watch. He didn’t want us to take the body away. He just sat in his cage, depressed.
Because rats need to live in a pack, Tyler was afraid Cyrus would be affected by having no other rats, so we went on the search for two more males. Having issues with finding them, we decided to finally settle on two Feeder rats. The teenage clerk got out the box and quickly held two up by their tails, “Yep, these are males.”
And so we went home and introduced Cyrus to Eddi and Eli.
We had discovered with Tyler’s previous rats that they all have their own personalities and Eddie and Eli were no different. Eddie was extremely curious and extroverted while Eli was shy and introverted.
Tyler had also decided he wanted two more regular rats because he wasn’t sure about feeder rat’s health. All we could find was three females and we decided to take all three so we wouldn’t leave one alone. He kept them in a separate cage and made plans to spay them.
At the beginning of last week, Eli developed a respiratory infection so Tyler and I packed up Eli and Eddi (Tyler wanted Eddi for moral support) and took them to the vet. We registered Eli and waited for Dr. Runnels.
When we finally got ushered into the room, Dr. Runnels took a look at Eli. She listened to his heart and lungs and started talking to us about Eli but, to our perplexity, she kept referring to Eli as her even after our rather vague hint that ELI was a BOY.
Finally, after she was through looking at Eli and confirming a respiratory infection, we confronted the doctor about the whole calling Eli a HER.
Dr. Runnels said, “Well, I would have to look again but I do believe we have a girl here.”
That was when I noticed what Eddi had and what “Eli” did NOT.
I told her, “The rats are mostly Tyler’s and he cares for them but the store clerk told us they were both boys. I never noticed the difference.”
After all, “Eli” was usually hiding while Eddi did all the exploring….
…and the teenage store clerk told us they were both boys!
Lesson Learned: Never let a Teenage Store Clerk determine a Rat’s Gender!
“I guess Eli is actually an Ella,” I smiled, looking at Tyler, who was standing there looking very much like a deer in the headlights.
“Or Elly,” The vet offered smiling.
Dr. Runnels tried to check
Eli’s Ella’s belly but he she wouldn’t cooperate with holding still for too long, “I don’t think she’s pregnant, but I’m not sure.”
On the way home Tyler was still in a state of shock. He knew he had a big job ahead of him when we got home switching rat cages around to put ALL of the girls in the bigger cage.
In disbelief Tyler shook his head, “I can’t believe it! She can’t be pregnant! I never saw them-” Suddenly his eyes got big and his chin dropped. He groaned, “Ohhhh nooo! I thought they were just play-fighting.”
I was still cackling when we got home.
This weekend he let them out to play and I went in to look at them. Tyler pointed to Ella, “She’s pregnant, isn’t she?”
Picking her up, I rubbed my fingers on her rather lumpy belly – hoping we were wrong.
Monday morning Tyler comes bounding down the steps as I was readying for an appointment, “Mom! She had babies!”
“She had her babies! We have to get them out of there!”
With the help of my older daughter, Nicole, we transferred the babies and rather protective new mom to another cage. There were eight of them.
Tyler was now the not-so-proud owner of FOURTEEN rats!
Two days later all the babies are doing well and soon we will begin the task of finding homes for half of them.
Meanwhile next time we need to get more rats, we will personally check them for gender!