If you follow us on Instagram, you already know about our sad news. I felt like I should post a little note here as well because ever since we brought Ramona home last year, you guys have been so interested and supportive of our little Ramona (especially current and past rattie owners!). We never knew what a cool world pet rats would open us up to when we stepped foot into that pet store looking for a... rabbit, last year. The staff owner that suggested, to our disbelief, that we should consider a pet rat instead, didn't know how much love she was bringing into our house that day. Who would've thought?! A pet rat! Not us that's for sure.
Ramona passed away on Sunday. She got sick a week or so before, what seemed like out of nowhere, and before we knew it she was in a very bad way and fast. We had NO idea that most rats will suffer a respiratory infection of some sort in their little lives. We knew of course that they don't live that long, but with her only being with us for barely a year and a half, we just weren't ready for it. It really hit us hard just what we were losing, and how attached we'd actually become to her. So, needless to say, it's been a rough week or so.
I think what was the hardest was seeing her suffer and gasping for breath for DAYS. We finally found a vet that was licensed to take care of rats (For Pets Sake if you're ever in need of a vet that sees all those OTHER animals! They were a Godsend and vital in getting through all of this!) We gave her antibiotics for several days (although it would stress her out so badly when we gave them to her, we wished we didn't have to! Her breathing would get ten times worse after that.) The days that followed were very confusing because she started eating a little and pooping and peeing, but not really drinking on her own. But she still had the repetitive labored breathing and we could tell she wasn't sleeping... so she was exhausted, poor thing. She'd have to sit up all day in one position. It was brutal to watch. But since she was eating, we felt like MAYBE things were getting better - we just had no idea what was going on in her little body.
After a couple days, when we'd give her the antibiotics she was getting really, really stressed out and it was our last attempt at giving her the antibiotics that really just did her in. We had planned on probably taking her to the vet on Monday and putting her down because she just seemed so miserable, but in the end, we were thankful that she died here at home. I have to tell you, and maybe this is too much to share, but she died in such a peaceful and incredibly sweet way. For the first time in probably a week, she just sort of gave in, walked over to this rag/cloth we had put in there to hopefully comfort her (but with her labored breathing, she wanted nothing to do with it before), she dragged the rag over into a corner, and for the first time curled up into a ball and layed down. She was finally able to relax. We all said goodbye to her and then she was gone.
I have to say, it was heartbreaking but a relief at the same time to finally see her at peace. I think Ethan and Cooper took it the hardest that day. It didn't hit me to later on... sort of a post-traumatic reaction. I think we all just really, really missed her. Campbell has done well. He still talks about her every day, but wasn't super sad, which I'm thankful for. He's already said that she's up in heaven with our dog Sherpa and Turtle Harry. ; )
Cooper and Ethan buried her in our back yard and we're going to try and make a little stepping stone with her name on it to mark it. That will be something we can all work on together which will make it meaningful.
You might remember my story when we first brought Ramona home and Ethan's former phobia of rats. I think what has been amazing in all of this, is that he ended up forming the strongest bond with her. : ) Both he and I. The boys loved her, but in order to keep her "socialized" and friendly, Ethan and I took her out of her cage the most, mostly at night when we'd be watching shows and sitting on the couch. At the beginning she would sit with me because he wasn't yet "there" with the whole rat idea. Then we realized, ironically, that I was the only person that became really allergic with her (she would barely touch my skin and I would break out in welps! sigh.) So he started holding her. She spent many nights curled up in this fleece vest he would wear. You would die of the cuteness - seriously.
When people told us they were one of the few rodents (eh, I hate that word) that were affectionate, smart and truly calmed by a human's touch, we really had no clue the truth behind all of that. In fact, the vet reminded us of that when she was sick - that we should hold her to comfort her through it, because rats respond to that.
We've been talking about whether we want to get another one and have flipped flopped on the idea. Ethan actually went to the pet store the day she died to look at the rats because I think he missed her (which is really sweet). But I think we've decided that we're not sure we can go through all of this again since it's almost inevitable that the next rat will get the same sort of repiratory infection, and if not - will definitely die early. It's just too hard.
We've considered other small pets (our biggest problem is that we have a family full of allergy sufferers, so dogs and cats are out) but we always come back to rats. In the end, I think we will probably just not get another pet, unless it's a hermit crab or something that they boys can keep. The boys aren't those kind of kids that BEG and plead for animals, so I'm not sure it's really necessary.
But I have to say, the house definitely feels empty without a critter around. We'll probably revisit the idea one day, who knows.
I would love to hear how you rat owners out there have dealt with the early deaths and if getting more rats has helped you get through that in a way? Any other small animals you've enjoyed? We considered lizards as well. Any chinchilla owners? Those sound kooky but fun. Ha. Would love to hear your input!