I had a bereavement yesterday morning. I did my morning check of the rat nest, feeling inside and counting ears and dividing by two as usual. One of the lumps of fur was colder than usual. I had been expecting it, as Mummy Smudge has a couple of tumors that are catching up with her. But it wasn’t her, it was her sister Dot’s daughter Stripe. Stripe was a couple of months short of two years, one of the babies that were born here in November 2013. She had one lump under the arm, but it hadn’t grown in six months so I wasn’t worried about it.
It is the first time I have had a pet die of natural causes in many many years. There’s something nice about thinking that Stripe died in bed cuddled up with her ratty family.
I considered calling a member of the Rat Fanciers Society who had expressed interest in doing an autopsy when any of my rats died (they are ‘blues’, which are susceptible to various internal problems), but in the end, I couldn’t bear the thought and held an immediate burial before going to work.
I’m down to three of my blue girls now, the original pair, Aunty Dot and Mummy Smudge (they have just turned two), and Smudge’s baby Persephone (affectionately known as Pudge). Poor old Dot. She has outlived both her babies now.