Dealing With the Loss of a Pet Rat

I had something else I wanted to touch on today, but I’m switching things up again. Sometimes current events demand attention. You never know what surprise may overtake you.

Cupid the pet rat was very sick and suffering. She wasn’t drinking water and barely ate the food I gave her. Despite cage cleanings, she had contracted mites (they are very common and can come from almost anywhere). Despite treatment, they could not be stopped or gotten rid off. I will have to throw her cage out to be sure they’re gone because of how hardy these nasty vermin turned out to be. Our other rat doesn’t have them, thankfully.

It’s never easy to send a pet friend on their way and sadly, I had to do this last night. Now, let me tell you, I have a great deal of experience in this unfortunate skill from working with animals as long as I have. I was a breeder of rats long, long ago and I worked for an Animal Control Agency for six years. In that time, I’ve had to put down all manner of injured wildlife. I had to put down many a sick rat with cancerous tumors or other ailments that prevented them from thriving. When you cold have 10 litters of rats growing at numbers of 20 per litter (average), it was impossible to avoid.

Anyway, Cupid was very special. She would let you pick her up and take her anywhere. She would let a hyper child with autism hold her. She would ride on our shoulders and nestle into anyone’s long hair. She was cute and loveable. She could teach you to enjoy a rat’s company. My son was very attached to her. I hated what I had to do. I hated to deliver the news as well. He fell into my lap when I told him she had to go last night. He cried for a good ten minutes as I discussed how I understood his feelings.

I offered to do a burial in the backyard and he accepted readily. Out in the back yard is the remains of an old stump someone tried to burn out. It’s center was only dirt and ashes. Looking around the yard, I realized that there would likely be nothing under the stump. It should be safe to dig there. So I did and I managed to get the hole a good foot and half deep before digging into hard clay. We put poor Cupid to rest there and my son said a few words of goodbye. Then we filled it in and talked some more.

Loss is a hard change and change is already hard for autistics. All you can do, is be supportive and understanding. Offer to do things that help bring closure and remind of the good times. Don’t go for instant replacement. Time is needed to get full closure or anything close to that. In getting a new pet, you shouldn’t be getting a replacement. You should be getting a “new” pet, with an identity and history all it’s own. That way, you don’t find yourself constantly looking at this new animals as a replacement for Fido or who ever.

We still have a family of pets that need our love and support. We still have a big ol boy rat named Mocha Joe who needs attention. He’s not the same, but we still have him and he is who he is. My son will be fine, but it’s a tough loss for any child, conditions or not.
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David Wilde
I am an advocate for autism now sharing my own fantasy universe to show just what people can do in spite of limitations (like my hands). I'm writing an ongoing story on my blogspot, have a facebook fanpage and more. I have one novel being considered by agents.
David Wilde

David Wilde

I am an advocate for autism now sharing my own fantasy universe to show just what people can do in spite of limitations (like my hands). I'm writing an ongoing story on my blogspot, have a facebook fanpage and more. I have one novel being considered by agents.

0 thoughts on “Dealing With the Loss of a Pet Rat

  • August 23, 2011 at 1:53 am
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    I am a normal (as people would say) 24 year old woman. I am married. I had pets as a child. But when my boyfriend (who is now my husband) and I moved in together, I had a hamster. I named her Tonks, after Harry Potter, because I am a dork. I loved Tonks, and she was a sweet hamster. Any hamster owner will tell you that hamsters can be mean. And boy, was she ever. It took forever for her to warm up to me, and after that, she bite anyone that stuck their finger in the cage. But she loved me. And one day, I noticed she was acting funny. I looked it up…and it wasn’t good. A few days later…she was dead in her cage. And I almost died. I had had pets before, but she was MY first pet. We buried her outside our apartments in the pouring rain. I now have a new hamster, and I know not to get that attached. We have a pup now too. I know that hamster (and rats) don’t live as long as humans. In 10 years when our pup dies, it will kill me as well. But I think that you both handled it in a very healthy way. And I hope that he will love his future pets as much as he loved Cupid. They will be very lucky animals. <3

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  • August 22, 2011 at 10:54 pm
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    My condolences to you, and to all others here who have lost their little friends.  As a dog lover, I’ve always felt that owners of other pets never really bonded with them or shared a loving relationship.  Reading this blog entry has opened my eyes, and I can truly understand your feelings.  I have lost several, and even still occasionally grieve for one lost over thirty years ago.

    I recommend this site:   http://www.rainbowsbridge.com   &nbsp; If that link doesn’t work, just google “rainbow bridge poem.”

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  • August 22, 2011 at 8:53 pm
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    @the_peach_assailant@xanga – Sniffington! What an ADORABLE name! I am so sorry to hear of your loss, but I’m sure your ‘lil baby had a great life 🙂 That’s all we can do, is give them a good chance at a great life and make sure they’re happy for their short time here with us! <3

    I had a hamster, named Mr. Maxwell, nicknamed “Hammie” … I snuggled him all night the night he passed away, it was like losing a baby of mine, so very sad. But I always remember him in good times and realize I know I gave him the best lilfe I could. Definitely do some more research (though it seems you know quite a bit) and make sure you give your other rat a good life. Also, I think someone mentioned it… if your rat is used to a companion, I’d get another because it won’t last long without one.

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  • August 22, 2011 at 7:59 pm
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    It was so weird for me to see this on my home page, since my pet rat, Nematoad (Toad for short) just died about two weeks ago. He had a cancerous tumor and it was clear that he was miserable, so we took him to the vet and had him put to sleep. I’m sure he’s happier now, I bet rats go to Heaven too. 🙂 It’s really hard, because I loved him like my baby, but it was a relief to realize that he isn’t sick anymore, and I know he had a good, long life. Hope you and your son cope well. 🙂

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  • August 22, 2011 at 1:40 pm
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    Losing a friend like that is hard for most anyone. I remember when I was a kid and I had two pet mice. We had to let Pixie go, het tumors were getting the best of her. It’s an interesting lesson that loss is. Sad and sobering all at once. I don’t think that it ever gets easier, but as wisdom and experience comes, you do get better at coping with it. When I lost my dog, Storm, after 13 great years together, I started to learn from the experience of loss. I just reminiscence and thanked God for the great years I had with my animal friends.

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  • August 22, 2011 at 12:18 pm
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    I lost a rat to cancer a few days ago. Her name was Sniffington, and she was the sweetest, fattest lady rat you’ve ever seen. I realize how attached you get to them and much it hurts. Best of luck to you and your son.

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  • August 20, 2011 at 8:37 pm
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    Aww. I absolutely adore rats. I’ve had about a dozen of them as pets. They truly each have their own personalities/identities. And I know what it’s like when a “special” one that is close to your heart passes on. It’s very difficult. I hope your son is handling the loss well and continuing to heal.

    I had one of my rats pass away two weeks ago. She was darling and I hated seeing her go. But now I am looking into adopting two more from a Rat Rescue close to where I live. I too have one rat left now, and I don’t want her to be alone. Adopting one or two more that need a good home doesn’t replace the lost rat- like you said- but it opens up your heart again to loving another rat that needs a caring home.

    Please consider getting your single rat that’s left a new cagemate. It’s extremely important that rats don’t live alone. Every rat should have a buddy if possible. 🙂

    *edit: I also agree with everything that @Gorrific@xanga said… I’ve done a lot of research on rats. They should never live in glass tanks and freezing bedding does prevent mites…

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  • August 20, 2011 at 12:23 pm
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    I really hope you didn’t home euth her….it’s incredibly inhumane unless done by a proffesional, which even lots of….um….experience will not give you.  Also it’s important the Mocha Joe have a companion….rats are incredibly social creatures and they will become depressed when not around a rat companion.  This companionship simply can’t be duplicated by a human.  

    The best way to prevent him and any future friends from contracting mites is to freeze their bedding for a few day before using it.  And the best way to treat it is with kitty revolution, in my experience it clears them right up.Also it looks like a tank Cupid is standing on….aquariums offer little ventilation which is terrible for a rat’s sensitive respiratory system.  And also they typically are just poor environments for rats.  Not enough space, levels, or room for climbing and toys.
    I don’t mean to kind of jump in with all this info but it does seem you and your child cared for the rat very much so I would imagine you’d want to give the other little guy the best chance at life as possible.  And also as a person with lots of passion for rats I try to educate wherever I can.
    RIP Cupid and well wishes in the grieving process.

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