If you think you've seen it all, just wait, there's more!
We started with the whole rat thing in 1994. Up until around 1998, any time a rat got sick, hurt his toe, got an ear infection, got an abscess, sneezed, bled, tumored, puked, etc, I would make note of the problem and the solution so I would be prepared when such an occurrence would happen again. Every time something bad would happen, it would never be the same thing. Ever! We'd always find ourselves saying "Well, at least it wasn't worse" or "Well, we'll be prepared next time" and we never were because it never happened again! Now you could argue that we took preventative measures and that we learned from our mistakes and lack of preparation, and in a sense we did, but despite that, we were never prepared for the next instance or mishap. Something entirely different would always happen. There were rarely second times around for anything, and when there were, these things would happen at least two years after the first instance, and by then we'd forgotten!
For example, would you ever imagine your rat in an upper body cast as a result of a tumor that existed 5 months prior? We didn't. But after the tumor was almost completely healed up, this rat decided to chew it open, exposing all of his intestines for the world to see. Would you ever imagine that a rat could cause a two inch gash on the back of another rat? We didn't. It happened. We got skin glue. We never saw another gash quite as long. Did we expect another rat to get a two inch gash made by another rat on his abdomen? We didn't. Skin glue wasn't the solution either.
Did we expect a rat to puke? Not at all. Rats can't puke. We were told that even after we saw it happen. Did we expect an ear infection to ever happen? Sure we did but try as we might, we couldn't prevent them from sleeping under their water bottles.
Did we expect abscesses to happen? Did we understand how that big stinky thing resulted from a fingernail prick? Not in the least, and we surely never imagined one would erupt inside a rat's ear and drain through his ear as well.
We also never expected that a rat would leave his toe or tail behind when spooked. We never imagined any rat would hang himself multiple times! We never imagined one testicle would up and disappear either! And we certainly never imagined that rat bedding could swell up and clog a rat's intestine, thereby preventing him from passing the product naturally. But all these things (and more) have happened, and most never repeated themselves!
Fortunately after a couple of years we developed some rat common sense so we somehow "just knew" to rub the rats belly feeling for unmoving lumps if he wasn't producing or eating. Somehow we knew, and weren't afraid of gently cleaning the rat's intestines and tucking them back inside. Somehow we knew to feed those rats high protein and fatty foods to aid in replenishing lost blood and minerals. Somehow we knew that Aspirin would relieve a rat's fever. Somehow we knew they'd be OK without that toe or piece of tail. Somehow we knew how to resuscitate that cold lifeless rat. Heck, we've even given rats CPR (and successfully, mind you).
Would you even imagine?
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Disclaimer: There are many non-sarcastic accounts and tips on the web regarding rat care. This is not
one of them. These are merely accounts of our experiences with rats, our perceptions of these experiences, where we've failed
and where we've succeeded. These accounts are here for two purposes: