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Changes in the Eekosphere

With the changing of the seasons, the rat girls are changing too. At the end of September, Eek's coat started turning more brown. Previously she was mostly grey, and always with that strikingly white colored belly.

Scribble wants to playScribble has been busy growing into an adult, and has become obviously larger than Eek. With her increased size, she has also become more adventurous and active, like when she has a chance to roam. She's also more aggressive towards Eek, sidling up to her (an aggressive behavior in rats). But Eek continues to very much outstrip Scribble in speed and agility, so when Scribble tries to intimidate, Eek runs away. Scribble tries to follow, but it's kind of a sad sight. She has no chance of catching up.

Eek, increasingly protective about her own cage space, and especially her food cache, is willing to endure Scribble's mauling in order to search Scribble's cage space for leftover food bits. Especially prized are Scribble's leftover pea pods - Scribble only eats the peas. Eek is very focused about food. Upon placing a bowl of rat food - which are rather small triangular flat pellets, about a half inch wide - into Eek's cage, she immediately feverishly crams as many pellets from the bowl as she can into her mouth - it's a very surprising amount! - and then quickly runs up to her hammock, where she shoves them all under the pile of sticks she's built. And then quickly back down to the bowl for another big mouthful. Back and forth she goes, as quick as she can, until absolutely all the food has been packed away. Only then will she stop to eat one or two of the pellets. Scribble has not demonstrated any inclination towards hoarding, nor is protective of her food.

By the middle of November, Scribble was old enough to be spayed. According to our vet, unspayed female rats are more prone - perhaps even 50% more likely - to develop mammary or pituitary tumors. These tumors grow extremely quickly and can be life threatening. Rat spaying is often performed at about four months of age, because at younger ages the rat is too small to operate on reliably and without risk. And, because Elizabethan collars are very difficult to keep in place on rat necks, Scribble spent the night under sedation at the vet's, to keep her from affecting her incision. She returned home, a little woozy, the next day, with her cute belly shaved bare. She was back in normal action by the end of the day.

Unlike Norwegian rats, it's unknown whether female rats like Eek are also at risk for estrogen related tumors. Our vet was unable to find any supporting research. That, coupled with Eek's diminutive size, caused us to agree not to spay Eek.

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Blog_post | by Dr. Radut