It started a couple of years ago, as I walked though a PetSmartâ€“ probably looking for cat food or cat litter. As I walked past the small animal bins, as I make a habit of doing, I spotted them. There they were, two little balls of furry loveâ€“ ummmâ€¦ except for their tails. I couldnâ€™t leave without them, so ten dollars apiece and off we went. I also picked up a brand new cage and a water bottle. That brought the total up to about sixty dollars.
Two days later I'dd yet to name them, but I was already in love. Then it struck me, why what could I do? These rats on my desk were Thing 1 and Thing 2! And so it was and so went three went on about our lives.
We three had a scare early on. Both rats developed lumps under their chins. Domestic rats are prone to cancerâ€“ the result of their all having been domesticated for the labâ€“ so the lumps on thier throats meant a huge lump in my stomach. These lumps though, werenâ€™t cancer. They were the result of an iodine deficiency and a little iodonized salt fixed them fast.
Then came Memorial Day weekend.
Thing 2 got sick. Bad. He crashed like a lead zeppelin. And most of the vets were closed. It was a holiday weekend and my boy decided to take a nose dive around eleven oâ€™clock PM. I thought he was going to die that night. We made it to an emergency vet though. I left feeling rapedâ€“ having given 200 dollars to an arrogant prick of a vet whoâ€™d tried to sell me another three hundred in x-rays, blood-tests and BSâ€“ but I left with anti-biotics.
My boy, it turns out, had a mycoplasmal infection, caused by, no surprise, a cell-wall-less bacteria named mycoplasma pulmonis, which infects virtually all domestics rats at birth. It is an interesting critter in its own right, but it and I were on opposite teams and I had Baytril.
Long story short, Thing 2 pulled right out of the plunge and was starting to look good again. He finished his antibiotics under protest, and rats can protest. Those little bodies can be pretty squirmy when a rat is motivated. Then I noticed a head tilt.
A head tilt usually indicates an upper respiratory infection, so back to the vet we went went for more antibiotics. This time, though, we went to a good vetâ€“ the one Iâ€™d have gone to in the first place place had he been open. We left with three times the anti-biotics the prick-of-a-vet sold me, and I spent under forty dollars for them, including the office visit.
It took a week or so, but the little guy pulled out of that too. His little head leveled out, and I thought weâ€™d dodged a bullet. I guess we have really. I guess weâ€™ve dodged several. But the story isnâ€™t over.
No sooner did the head tilt go away than he took another diveâ€“ this time with pneumonia cause by the same bacteria mentioned previously. This time, he went down even faster and harder than the first time. My vet, the good one, gave him forty-eight hours without antibiotics and a ten percent chance at survival with them. I took the ten percent chance and left with more anti-biotics. Heâ€™ll be taking them for the rest of his little life.
We beat the pneumonia too. I set the alarm to wake me every two hours for two nights in a row so that I could give him food and water. He had to be fed babyfood through a needle-less syringe. He was too weak to eat on his own. We made it though. On the third day he started eating crackers and drinking from his water bottle. But that is not the end.
While fighting the pneumonia, Iâ€™d noticed an oozing from his left eye. Since the eye-ooze matched the ooze coming from his nose, I assumed the two were related. The doctor didnâ€™t seem to think anything of it either.
Now that eye began to protrude from his head. Back to the vet. I dropped him off in the early morning and went to school. I got a phone call. Probably, I was told, there is a tumor in his head pushing the eye out. Such was the cause in every eye-popping-case heâ€™d seen. I was also told that I should probably put him down, that our other options were pretty limited. Surgery, always risky, to remove the eye was especially risky because on Thing 2â€™s respiratory infection, and if he survived the operation weâ€™d most likely have to face a tumor.
I skipped my last two classes and headed back the the clinic to say goodbye. I was pretty sure that would be his last day on Earth. I couldnâ€™t do it. He had too much energy, too much life left. I took him home, made sure he ate, and took him back to the clinic the next day for surgery. That was a long day, but he made it yet again.
Heâ€™s home now. Its been several days since the surgery. He is missing an eye, but heâ€™s home, on my desk, and heâ€™s eating a potato. He looks healthier than heâ€™s been in a month now. We still have the tumor, butâ€¦
And Thing 1? What has become of him? Healthy as can be, not a symptom of anything. Heâ€™s reclusive, but healthy, and I think heâ€™s been a bit confused about why his buddy has been coming and going so much. For now, though, they are