Yesterday evening we arrived home earlier than usual and it quickly became apparent that our little Yoda rat was fading fast.
He'd been showing his age recently; slowing down, sleeping a lot more, wasn't as sprightly as he'd been in the past. We kind of knew it was coming. He was two years and nine months old.
I wrapped him up in an old t-shirt and we both took it in turns cuddling him, stroking him, telling him we loved him and that it was okay to go. Around an hour passed before he finally left us.
He never once had to go see a vet. He was spoiled absolutely rotten; he always ate a little of what we were eating (sometimes Mr Click would actually make a little extra just for him). He got into the routine of coming to bed with us (in his little cage) to watch whatever we were watching before we put out the light and came to expect a bit of digestive biscuit at this time each day; he let us know what he thought if we didn't have a biscuit at bedtime.
Yoda was my Yo-Yo, Yoda-Bean, Little Man or Grumpy Old Man Rat. I upset Mr Click this week by pointing out that the way his fur lay on his head kind of reminded me of Donald Trump's hair; my rat was so much better to look at though.
Yoda was not the most cuddly rat I've ever owned. I think that yesterday was the longest I've ever cuddled him for in one go. He was terribly independent; when I used to lift Wicket out of the big cage, Yoda would make his way down to the bottom to climb out by himself. If you stuck your hand into the cage you were liable to be nipped, not really aggressively, just to warn you that he was the boss in his house.
He was very smart though. He could hear a packet of chocolate opening at twenty paces and he'd be there, up at the bars of the cage, waiting for a tasty morsel before you'd even gotten out whatever you were planning to eat.
It was also Yoda who learned to put himself to bed. Unlike our other genius level rat, Carol, who learned how to open the cage to let herself out, Yoda never mastered this skill (mainly because since Criminal Mastermind Carol we've added extra clips to our rat cage to prevent further escapee rats) but he did learn to navigate the staircase. If you popped him on the stairs, he'd hop his way up to the top, trundle across the landing and climb into bed. It was a trick Wicket learned too, but he was never quite as good at it as Yoda was.
You could also dump Yoda at the top of the stairs, head on down and call him at the bottom, and he'd do a cute little bunny hop thing down the stairs. It was very cute to watch and something which I hope to teach future ratbags to master.
Recently a colleague lost her cat, Hicks, which was a bit of a shock as he was only a young thing. Hicks was actually Yoda's friend from when she watched both our boys when we took a trip to Wales last year. I remember being anxious about how the cats would be around the rats so it was a pleasant surprise to hear that they became fast friends, apart from the time when Hicks left his tail too close to the cage and Yoda gave it a good tug; it looked like nice cosy bedding.
So now I'm picturing the three of them together. Wicket would be snuggled up on top of his brother, with Yoda (skinny by comparison to his brother) squashed underneath. And somewhere nearby is Hicks, wanting to join in on the snuggle too.
Sleep tight, Yoda.