Friday, December 29, 2006

Happy Ratmas

A few days ago it was Christmas! This was a new experience for me and my mum and we got very excited about it. Here we are unwrapping our present. Ever since we have been enjoying munching on turkey bones, macadamia nuts and we even got to have some delicious brussel sprouts. The humans also offered us something called Christmas pudding but we were having none of that....ugh!

Today we got another Christmas present - a new house! It is so much bigger and posher than our old house. It came in the post from Martin's cages. The little human allowed the big human to put it together, which he did splendidly. Then we spent the rest of the afternoon jumping around in the new house. Can you see me out exploring in the picture?


Friday, December 22, 2006

Hooded Rats

I have been surfin' some Japanese rat blogs. From what I can make out most pet rats in Japan are either husky or hooded. There are also some white rats, and more solid colours too, but they seem less common. Bill and Boris who live here are almost one colour all over - with only a splash of white on their chests. Bill is especially unusual since he has funny dumbo ears and also rex fur. Mummy and Colin are, however, huskies (or roan, as it seems to be called in the US and UK these days). As you can see from the picture I don't like to be defined by silly human definitions and am confusing them by being both hooded and husky.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Japanese Pouched Rat

Africa is home to the largest species of rat in the world, the African Pouched Rat. In the USA some people keep these gigantic rats as pets! I think they would eat straight through the walls of a typical wooden Japanese house in about 5 minutes, so I hope there aren't any here!

The Giant Japanese Pouched Rat is an even rarer species. Like the African variety it is 2 foot long, but unlike the African variety, it has two heads. Here is a picture of one that the little human photographed just this week. Pretty scary huh?

Incidentally, Africa is also home to the world's smallest mouse , the African Pygmy Mouse. This is probably a better pet for a Japanese household. They are incredibly small, clean and don't smell, so suitable for Japanese tidy-living in a small space. However, they are also quite fragile and not fond of people in the same way we rats are, so it is probably more like looking after a decoration than a pet. They are also said to be more seriously noctural, whereas we rats can be woken up at most times of day and will play. Since the quarantine laws changed in Japan in Sept. 2005, it seems to be difficult to find these pygmy mice in pet shops, although I wouldn't have thought it would be so hard to breed them here.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Nearly doubled

I am now 140g, which is nearly double what I weighed when I came into the new rat house 2.5 weeks ago. The smaller human tells me I am only going to be a little rat (who is she to talk!) but I am hopeful I will be bigger than Mummy, who is only 210g. For comparison, PhilBossRat is 550g!

It is not that clear in the picture, but I am developing some long hairs at last. You can see how my fur is lighter near my belly. Mummy says that they are called guard hairs and that the new fur will spread all over me from toe to tip in the coming few weeks. Soon I will be a grown up!

As you can see I have been reading a variety of books to improve my mind. In Japanese Buddhism you can gain wisdom by turning round a revolving library of books. In ratty Buddhism the same knowledge is gained by nibbling on a wide variety of books.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006


Lots of things happen in the new rat house that didn't use to happen at the old place. One of the most exciting is that we regularly get to watch exciting movies. One of the most inspirational ones was called Mission Impossible 2 which involved a human doing things like hanging from their finger tips from cliff edges as well as posing in order to look as pretty as possible.

Ever since we saw the movie, me and Mummy have been practising our moves. Of course we are both already more attractive than the actor so we don't need to practise that part. Hanging from fingertips does, however, require lots of practise. While Mummy has been jumping from the BIG human's shoulder to claim a fingernail purchase on the bookcase, I have been hanging off the smaller human's clothing by my toenails and then just when I am only hanging by only one toe I swing myself round and climb vertically to the human shoulder. This is a lot of fun and, since we hear that the lead actor role is now vacant, we are hoping that we will soon get offered deals to star in future Mission Impossible movies.

Unfortunately the humans' photography is really not very good so we are not sure that the talent scouts will discover us! This movie is of my Great Uncle Colin. As you can see he was a fantastic stuntrat in his younger days.

Monday, November 27, 2006


This is Phil, the big boss of our house, who I saw for the first time today. Since he is the big boss I haven't actually met him. I wouldn't know what to say to him; he is so clever and handsome and worldly wise. Mummy says I am not allowed to put up a photo of him on the wall of our cage, because we girl rats must do more with our lives than think about boy rats. I think this is very hypocrital since all she has done from her teenage months is bring up babies!

It is rumoured that Phil has never had a days illness in his life, not even a sneeze, and that he travelled to Japan, across the Pacific, stowed away on a ship. And he sleeps only one hour a day. He's a great rat.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


Here is another one of the boys! Don't you think he looks a bit like me? It could be that he is my Great Uncle Colin! In the first picture Colin is about 3 months old. The second is a year later (yesterday). From looking at pictures on the internet he seems to be a blazed berkshire platinum, His eyes are ruby. Isn't it interesting how his colour has faded? Could he be a husky rat? Husky rats start off almost black and then get more and more grey through time, but I have not seen such a pale one before. Colin is a very interesting colour but he is a bit small and weedy. I am not so scared of him as I am of Billie! When he was younger he climbed around a great deal and was very athletic. Recently, when the weather got cold he developed a slight heat tilt. At first he was quite disorientated and frightened, but now he is getting more and more secure again. There are three possible causes of head tilt. It could have been an inner ear infection caused by mycoplasma pulmonis that all rats have, or it could have been a stroke. Pituitary tumours can also cause head tilts but since Colin is improving now, this seems unlikely. The first seems most likely since Colin also has noisy breathing , undoubtedly myco related. The strange thing is that he did not seem very ill when he got the head tilt. Perhaps it was only a relatively minor attack.

Billie's Abscess

Recently I saw one of the boys. He is a bit scary. Just now he is even scarier than in this photo because he has a sore face.

Billie is about 15 months old now. He is probably about 3 months old in the photo. One day the side of his face swelled up. It was a general swelling. It looked perhaps like a mosquito bite, although it is past mosquito season now. Perhaps he had fought a mukade .. I wouldn't be surprised, he looks like such a thug I would expect him to be out fighting mukade every Friday night. There was a little mark on the outside. Billie had obviously been scratching the area a lot since his toenails were very dirty. These were cut immediately to blunt them. Over the next few days the swelling went down and, to the relief of some and fear of others, we all thought Billie was going to be OK. But then a couple of days later a hard swelling started in the same place. This was clearly an abscess.

The usual way to treat a rat abscess is to wait until it is well developed, and has formed a scab then rip off the scab and clean it out fully with saline solution or hydrogen peroxide. A non-facial abscess is not usually treated with antibiotics. However facial abscesses in rats don't seem to have a very good outcome. Sometimes it seems they are signs of a deeper problem but we really thought Billie's abscess was caused by an injury of some sort so perhaps we could be more hopeful. The abscess was already quite large when treatment was started. Billie seems very quiet and his eyes are quite red, particularly the one on the side of the abscess.

Day 1. The abscess was bathed in hot water with a little ethanol in it, several times a day. The outside was cleaned with hydrogen peroxide.

Day 2. In about 24 hours a scab formed on the abscess. This was softened and removed using hydrogen peroxide. The hole was enlarged using some very sharp disinfected (with ethanol) scissors. A quite revolting green pus came out.

Day 3. The scab was removed (bathed with hot water and hydrogen peroxide) and the abscess will rinsed with hydrogen peroxide morning and evening. Some green pus came out in the evening.

Day 4. Billie seems livelier. There is less red round his eyes. The abscess was rinsed in the evening. The hydrogen peroxide fizzed quite a lot but no pus came out. There is quite a large firm area round the abscess but the abscess itself seems smaller.

Day 5. Abscess rinsed in the evening. No green pus, but seems to be some more solid white stuff. Some of this has been apparent in previous days but this time I cleaned it all out with hydrogen peroxide, cotton buds and a pair of tweezers (to carefully pick bits out!). The abscess is now more like a narrow but quite deep crater.

Day 6. Same as yesterday, more white gunk had accumulated which was removed. Crater seems considerably less deep. Billie seems back to his usual self, and is much more likely to be seen washing and eating than just sitting.

Day 7. Same as yesterday but abscess approximately halved in size. Swelling round area of original abscess has gone away.

Day 8. Abscess halved in size again. Tonight it was more like a scab with the merest smeer of white underneath. Just a small dint remains.

The abscess seemed cured after that, but it reccured in December, following the same pattern as previously (general swelling which went down and then an abscess formed). The difference was that the abscess was in the same place but on the other side of his face! I started bathing the abscess as soon as it appeared this time and it burst when smaller (on 25th December) and took only 5 days to get to about "Day 7" stage above.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Day 3 in the rat house

Hello. My name is Pixel. Three days ago some big BIG big people came and took me and my Mum away from our hot, noisy and smelly home and brought us here. Here is a picture of me with the BIGGEST of the BIG people. The BIG people talk very funny, but maybe they are OK and at least I am not longer being bovvered by my pesky brothers, Taroh and Tatsushi and my strict Aunt Ayako. I can still smell boys though....sniff sniff sniff...

When I arrived they weighed me and told me I was 75g. I feel like all I have done since I arrived is eat and sleep. It is much easier to sleep here and the food is great! All we ate in the old place was seeds. Our new cage is a bit bigger than the one at our old home and of course only the two of us have to share it. It has wire sides so I can clamber all over it. I keep falling off things and Mummy keeps smacking me. Mummy says that one day, when I am grown up, we will escape and move to a bigger place. My Mummy's name is Yoko, which the big people pronounce as "Emily" which is a bit odd, I think.