Heiri: Rattus Norvegicus Finds Health and Acceptance In a New Colony
By Sandra Beasley
as told by "mousini"
This is the story of Heiri, pronounced "Hy-ree", with the accent on the first syllable.
Heiri is the Swiss form of the German name "Heinrich", and the English form is "Henry".
Heiri is a wild Rattus Norvegicus (Norway Rat), your typical, everyday, wild rat. But,
what is not so typical about Heiri is that he has an extraordinary story to tell.
Heiri's story started, of course, when he was born, but this story starts when he
was an old man. It was assumed that he was about two years old. Two years is really
old for a wild rat and that's probably why he was found in September of 2002 in such
a sad state of health.
Heiri's home territory was in an urban area just outside of Zurich, Switzerland. He
was found by an 80 year old lady while she was out for a stroll. He was laying in a
gutter, sick, and wounded. A thin-haired, sorry sight, but not ready to give up on
life just yet.
Not being afraid of rats, the kind lady went home and returned with a small cage. She,
coaxed the mangy, starving rat into the cage. For reasons known only to Heiri, he
obliged and ate the bread that she offered him. He would not give up his prize when the
lady thought that he might make himself ill by eating too much, too fast, and tried to
take the bread away momentarily. Heiri held onto that bread with all the strength he
Heiri only weighed 240 grams, very thin for an adult male. He had lost a lot of fur and
he had many bite and scratch wounds all over his body. It is unknown what
animal Heiri had encountered, but it could very well have been one of his own kind?
Heiri's "Guardian Angel" immediately contacted a Swiss Rat Club and a club member,
Carman, took him in.
The plan was to nurse Heiri back to health and then return him, once again, to his
urban home. But Heiri had other plans. At first he could only be handled with
gloved hands, because, out of fear, he would bite those who only wanted to care for him
and love him. But then, this old man was becoming tame rather fast and it wasn't long
before he could be handled with bare hands. Heiri showed no inclination to be freed
from his captive home. A sign that he was unduly stressed would be chewing at the cage
bars in an attempt for freedom. He showed no signs of doing this, nor did he show any
other abnormal behavior. Heiri was enjoying easy street!
Well, if Heiri was going to stay he would have to be integrated into another all-male
domestic colony. It wouldn't be fair to ask him to spend the rest of this luxurious life
alone. And in order to do this Heiri would have to neutered to squelch wild male
aggressive tendencies. Heiri was neutered and introduced to the other domestic rats a
few days later....they live in peace.
Heiri's neutering did not go without complications. He survived the surgery and
the post-op recovery, but an abscess developed and Heiri had to go back for more
surgery. It could well be that he was allergic to the sutures. Abscesses continued to
plague Heiri and he needed more surgeries to drain them two more times. It was thought
that Heiri would not survive these surgeries but, he is one tough boy, and he pulled
through all of them.
Heiri eventually found a friend in the domestic male colony. His friend's name is
Fridolin. They became great buddies and they eat side by side............
Sadly Heiri died Nov. 04, 2002. We will know how he lived his life before some kind
ladies took him in, but he spent the last three months of his life treated like a