Some rats never die (also, rats can live a surprisingly long time without food and water).
Let me begin by saying that we did not intentionally starve our rats to see how long they could last, we just had a volunteer. Her name is Violentine. You may remember her from "Do not spray a hungry flea-ridden rat with flea-killing spray." We had eventually put her up in one of the cages on the wall with the other girls. She didn't seem to feel the same way about rats as she did about her human, Nathalie. Problem was the humans had to clean the cages and feed and water the little furrballs, and we wanted to play with them too, but Violentine would hiss and nip at us, sometimes accidentally pegging one of her roommates instead. Furthermore her roommates were keeping all of the food away from her and she wasn't looking well. We decided to move her into a cage of her own which ended up being on the floor. It was secured though, or so we thought.
Actually, had it not been for the jumpers, everything would have been fine in Violentine's life, but the jumpers had made it a daily project to separate the wires of her cage lid. It was made of keeping-the-rabbit-out-of-the-garden wire and they had managed to separate it where the horizontal pieces intersected with the vertical pieces. They did such a good job that she was able to nudge the top off and clamber off into the walls. She apparently liked it there. We hadn't seen her for days. And apparently she was really fond of that territory because the other girls stopped going in there. That is how we managed to collect them all up before sealing the hole with brick, wire, and drywall (see "Female rats will do anything to get to their male counterparts.").
We didn't see her for a good week if not more, and she was already in such poor health that we had finally concluded that it was the end of Violentine. One morning, however, when human Andy was still asleep, human Nathalie, who wandered into the girl's room, felt something nipping at her toes and it quickly occurred to her that this would have been a fine morning to wear slippers, but it was too late. Now you would think that Violentine in the emaciated state that she was in, would not have enough energy, and at first, this seemed to be the case, until that is, the worried human Nathalie picked her up so she could put her in her cage to get some water. Violentine immediately whipped around and snapped at her human, Nathalie, in her sweet Violentine way taking off yet another chunk of flesh. Fortunately she was very close to her cage and once in it was only focused on the water and huge food supply that was growing around her.
Lesson repeated: Nothing, and I mean nothing was going to kill Violentine.
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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: