This has been a really hard  week for me as a pet owner, and as a rat breeder. This story may be hard for some of you to read, it was certainly hard for me to go through, and very hard for me to write. I believe the good and the bad need to be out there for people to read. I think if you are looking to breed your own rats or start a rattery, you need to know its not all sunshine, rainbows, and adorable pups. I think if you are a pet owner looking to buy a rat you should know what we go through as breeders to get there.

This last week I had 3 rats expecting litters. All three rats are related (two sisters and one aunt) and bred to 2 different males. I had a young pregnant rat, Blue Angel, pass away on Saturday night. She had started giving birth overnight and hemorrhaged. I found her early the next morning. I had checked on her in the early evening (around 9) and seen no signs of labor but sadly she must have gone into labor soon after. Any and all deaths of the rats in my care are devastating to me.

And of course, we had 2 related rats that were pregnant and due around the same time. I was watching them like a hawk. Monday night Blueberry went into labor. She was huge, and she is one of the sweetest rats you will ever meet. I quietly checked on her for a few hours and she seemed to be doing well. I went to bed around 2 a.m. When I woke up in the morning she had just started to bleed and I noticed that I could not see any contractions. I took her to the vet and we gave her oxytocin which started her contractions. By this point she was already weak and I really wasn’t sure if she was going to make it. 30 minutes later and with no babies we started talking about our alternatives, putting her to sleep or trying for a c-section with little hope of Blueberry waking up.

As we hit the one hour mark she started to push her first pup out. She needed help getting some of the pups out and it took about an hour and a half of her being weak and in hard labor. All of the pups were still born. Our guess is that she had started labor with no contractions and was unable to push the babies out in time to save them. After 9 babies her contractions stopped, she lay there, exhausted but we felt like there was still possibly more babies. At this point we did an x-ray and low and behold, one more. She gave birth to the last one and then proceeded to clean it (this is the only baby she paid any attention to). To us humans it was obviously dead. To her, it was her last baby. She cleaned it up and gently pushed it underneath her belly trying to get it to nurse. I didn’t have the heart to take it from her. After a few attempts to get it to nurse she finally gave up and slept.

*you can see the last pup’s spine in the blue circle*

Now all of this happened on Tuesday morning between 8 and 12. At 12 I got a text message that her sister, Blue Sky had gone into labor. Eight pups born, 6 were alive, 2 were still born. Only 5 were alive by the time I made it home. Turns out Blue Sky did not know how to be a mom and I had to remove her babies and place them with another doe.

So, as I write this, I currently have 3 little pinkies with a foster mother. 3 babies out of 3 pregnancies. So many deaths in a week. This is why running a rattery is not easy. This is why running a rattery takes heart and soul and everything you have. This is why you always need to have the funds available to run a rat to the dr and have x-rays and oxytocin available to you. My heart was running on empty on Tuesday night as I lay on the couch with Blueberry on my chest, covered in a blanket, trying to warm her up because her temperature was dropping and we were at the point we had done all we could do. The rest was up to Blueberry. I fed her gruel by syringe and put the water bottle to her mouth to let her drink. Lay her in a hospital cage and let her rest and then did the whole thing over again on Wednesday. Today is Thursday. I woke up and the very first thing I did, before giving myself or the dogs a bathroom break was check on Blueberry. I was greeted this morning to a bruxing and happy Blueberry. And this afternoon while giving her antibiotics she played tug of war with the syringe and almost won. She is feeling much better and although she is not out of the woods, yet, I feel I can say I am fairly certain this story has a happy ending.

Blueberry will be living her life here as a very spoiled and very loved little blue girl who will never again be pregnant or feel the sadness of losing babies. I will not be breeding any of the rats in this line any longer, this means there will likely be no blue rats available any time soon. I do have an unrelated blue male I picked up from another amazing rattery, that I have not used as a stud yet, that I will use to start a new and healthier line of blues.