DISCLAIMER: I was a new rat parent at the time.
All rat care mistakes, seen in photos and described in text, have been adressed since then 🙂
Korra was unique.
It was 2017, and I was still a very fresh rat parent, making all of the possible noob mistakes, and learning at my own pace (wasn’t a part of any rat communities back then).
One evening, my girlfriend showed me a post on Facebook, a peculiar one – Semi-wild rat babies looking for a home. Interesting, we should adopt one I thought. I truly had no idea what I was in for 😀
Tiny agouti beans, with a little secret 😉
Honestly, no idea whether that’s her or one of the siblings 😀
They were all so active! Zoomies 24/7.
Her story began when her mother escaped the cage and the apartment altogether through cracks in floorboards (never get to see that apartment, would have been interesting to observe) and returned pregnant! That was not noticed at first until her mother’s size increased so much that you wouldn’t be able to mistake it for anything else. Six small beans were born.
They all looked like typical agouti rats, but they had a secret – instincts! From the very first day, Korra had no boundaries. Our pet rats were afraid to leave the bed for too long while in free roam, whilst Korra tried to explore the whole room at her first opportunity.
On her fourth roam, she escaped and hid from us the whole night. I couldn’t find her and couldn’t sleep. The next morning we found her hiding in the extra mattress that was stashed behind the wardrobe. She hadn’t gnawed through it, she had opened the zipper. Or it was left slightly open, but I like to believe she did it herself. This was a valuable lesson – the room must be optimized for free roams, not to allow for such situations. It got better, she never escaped us like that again.
She loved sleeping in a pile so much! She was very hard to catch after the free roam, only possible when she had climbed on something. This made me place the food in a cage to lure her back, and it worked, eventually, she started to think of the cage as her home, and she returned without a hitch.
She was a champion of funny sleeping positions.
Wasn’t she? 😀
Hands were never something she particularly enjoyed. Although we started to familiarize her from an early age. She learned not to be terrified but always valued her freedom above all else.
Her feats of athleticism were above everything I’ve seen to this day. She could easily jump up to a desk from the floor. Curtain rails were her RAT-walks ( see what I did here? 😀 ) and the top of the wardrobe was where she liked to hang out the most. Good, made me clean there once in a while.
Too bad I didn’t know how to take a decent photo at the time 😀
She took the hierarchy very, very seriously. Climbed to the top very fast and got bored just as fast. I once spotted her crawling under Ruby, belly up to yield. I guess after that, fights could be resumed. Yet he was also one of the most social rats I’ve ever met, she never slept alone, and always tried to be the top of a rat pile 😀
Her passing came much too soon – she was only a little over one year old. Stroke during a very hot day. She didn’t leave us right away, we tried to rehabilitate her. We closed off the bed with pillows and furniture to keep her there and she adjusted to her head tilt after a while and was again able to walk straight. She got a lot calmer after that. Almost every evening I spent with her sleeping on my chest.
It lasted for two months, and proud of the progress she was making, I almost believed the second stroke wouldn’t come. But it did. I realized it happened when she reverted from all the progress we had made together. She seemed not to be able to differentiate food from inedible stuff. Very soon she slipped into a coma and we put her to sleep. It didn’t even take a full day then.
It was my first surreal experience of a rat death. It felt almost like a misunderstanding. She isn’t dead, that’s just a misunderstanding. She’s still alive, I would be able to find her if I looked hard enough. I wasn’t. Of course, I understood that she was gone and that it was final, but the surreal feeling remained. It does to this day, even if so silent.
Korra was an important rat for our mischief. While none of our current rats have met her, they all feel the legacy she has left behind. She made me understand how little I knew about rats. She made me read so much about rats just to understand her. She was unfathomable to me at the time. And she was the reason why the free roam area increased to the whole room 🙂