I'm starting with dinky little Dodger.
He was so tiny when we got him that he could fit quite comfortably into a toilet roll tube (though in the photo above he's squeezed into a far roomier kitchen roll tube). I hate to use the R word, but he was almost certainly the runt of the litter. Developmentally he's always been a little behind his brothers; he still had that big baby rat head (in relation to the rest of his body) when we got him and just looked kind of scrawny. Thankfully he's filled out a bit since then and now he's in proper proportion. While he's still dinky, he's closer in size to his brothers now.
Dodger is named after the Artful Dodger and is often called Little D and Dodgy Rat. Other potential names for him were Tiny Tim and Oliver Twist. But I kind of settled on him being Dodger the minute I spotted him in the cage; my little black and white hooded dumbo rattie (with ears the size of his head) and a big pink tip to the end of his tail.
He lived up to his name by being pretty skittish initially. He's still pretty good about dodging your hands when you want to catch him. He used to hide at the very back of the box, though once we got the grass house (which has holes on four sides) we were able to check up on him a lot more easily.
Dodger does quite like his food. He's been the first to try new foods on several occasions. When we gave them chicken nugget for the first time, it was Dodger who made the first grab; when we gave them scrambly eggs, it was Dodger who came and tried it first. Other food favourites include bagel (especially with cream cheese), turkey and egg white.
And as of today, Dodger is also our most expensive ratty!
Last night he seemed a little bit quiet but then again, all the boys were so I wasn't too concerned. This morning he seemed a bit wobbly, but he's always had this habit of walking with his belly low to the ground so I wasn't sure if it was something entirely new or if it was just a Dodger thing. I couldn't help but think he had a bit of a head tilt, which worried me, but it was hard to tell for certain because it was so subtle.
I finished work early today so we came home and did a deep clean on the big cage. The boys have been in our 'baby cage' while we get to know them and get them used to being handled, but the time has come for an upgrade. Today was supposed to be the day.
Much cleaning and scrubbing and rearranging of furniture followed (because the boys are now going to reside in the living room, rather than the spare bedroom) before we got them out at about 5pm. Where we promptly noticed that Dodger was a whole lot more wobbly and the head tilt was clearly pronounced.
We immediately panicked because any kind of infections in a little rat-sized body are bad news. I got onto the phone a mere 19 minutes before the local vet's practice was due to close and was told to get him there right away after gushing 'my baby rat has developed a head tilt and it's an ear infection and he needs antibiotics' at them.
I feel like I should add an aside in here that our vet is an amazing guy. When I moved to the island 16.5 years ago, our rats were some of the first he'd had to treat and he admitted that he wasn't that experienced with them. Over the years whenever I've taken a ratty to him, he listens to me and trusts me to know what's wrong with my pets. He took one look at Dodger and immediately agreed with our diagnosis.
Dodger got weighed (he's officially dinky) and a dose of antibiotics was calculated for him. He was not impressed with the injection and we got a couple of squeaks out of him. Fun fact: The consultation cost £9, but we can't be charged for the medication because rats need such a tiny amount of it that it's negligible in terms of calculating cost.
And then we came home where he almost immediately seemed to perk up and although still wobbly and wonky, he seems to be less so than earlier on. I'm keeping everything crossed that we've caught it in time.
|Dodger action shot! (on Wednesday)|