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deep sadness

Nibbles' Kids
Born December 10,2005 - Died December 13,2005

Mom (was to be): Nibbles
Mink Veriberk Standard Top-eared (one-eared) Doe
Click thumbnail for a larger image

Father: Unknown - one of her tank mates at Petland

December 10,2005: Nibbles, the one-eared rat that I recently obtained from Petland on November 29, just had a litter of 7 pups, and it's not going well at all. Nibbles is far too stressed. She didn't do a good job of giving birth to these babies and she doesn't want to have anything to do with them now, and I fear it is all my fault.

I had a strong suspicion that Nibbs was pregnant because she was in a mixed-sex tank. I've been looking for the signs of impending birth, but nothing has been happening to her body to suggest she is pregnant. Nibbs has been integrated into the cage with Tuppins, Dotti, Sheela, Bindi, and Jana.

3:30pm: The "baby" girls are having a scuffle, there's squeaking going on in the cage so I decided to change their point view by puttig them in a temporary cage while I clean their's out. A bare cage because they won't be there long.

5:30pm: I'm getting ready to go out with my husband Alic to his WestCan Christmas Dinner party and I go downstairs to put the youngsters back in their regular cage. There are 3 pups on the cold floor of the temporary cage. They are scattered about and I check to see if they are indeed Nibbs' babies. I'm in a bit of a panic here because I'm supposed to be getting ready to go out. I transfered Nibbles and her babies to another comfy cage and a sudden horror hits me. I just threw all the bedding into a tote and it's sitting in the bathroom. As I began digging through the bedding I hear peeping coming up from the depth of the dirty shredded newspaper and hay. I found one baby and took him to his mom.

I put baby blankets in Nibb's cage, gave her food and warm soy milk, and left her to be in the dark for 2 hours with a heating pad under where the babies were laying. Alic really didn't feel like partying after the dinner so we came home early. I checked through the rest of the bedding, hearing no peeps, I was just looking for bodies. Found none, thank goodness. Nibbs had given birth to 3 more pups. They were scattered about the cage, cold and bruised-looking.

The babies are together now, warmed by the heating pad, but Nibbs doesn't want to be with them. I fear I have triggered a stress response in her and the bonding is not there. And then, as I tried to see if they would drink warm soy milk on a q-tip, I got the bright idea to daub the babies with soy milk. This caused Nibbles to lick them but she didn't stick around to cuddle them.

I left them alone in the dark again, hoping Nibbs will calm down.

When should I really start to panic that she won't care for them?
Should I put a friend in with Nibbs in the hope that the friend will cuddle the babies and/or calm Nibbs down? We're not at the orphan stage yet, but I do have all of the links.

I don't think these babies have ear flaps. I've had several litters before where you can see the little ear flaps against their heads. All I see on these guys is ear holes. Could this be the birth defect I feared because their mother was born with one ear. Maybe it's just my imagination because these babies are so very, very small.

And no, if these babies live, I'm not going to start a line of ear-less rats. I would have never bred Nibbles on purpose because of the possibilities of birth defects.

I'm going to go and have a good cry now.

December 11,2005 (early afternoon): I tried the small cage idea but Nibbs still wouldn't stay with her babies.

I have just said, "see you later" to Nibbs and her babies as their Guardian Angels, Deb and Rob of DreamQuest Rodent Ranch in Regina, came here to whisk them away to teach Nibbs how to be a mama and place her babies with a foster mom. It's so sad to see them go, but I know that Nibbs and hopefully some of her babies will be home soon.

Nibbles just doesn't know what to do, she has no interest, and she has no milk for these babies. I'm not expecting miracles here, I know that some of the babies may not make it, and I'm saying this in public that I will not hold Deb and Rob responsible for any of their deaths. I just know that some wonderful people came through for us, and they will be giving these babies a better chance of surviving then they would have had here.

December 11,2005 (evening, as told by Deb): "Greetings Sandra and those following the Nibbles' plight. We just got home from our fly by of the Jaw. I spent a bit of time snuggling all the new babies and old babies together, put them in a new clean cage together then added the moms (Nyx, mom of 8; Syeira, momma's lil helper; and Nibbles). Everybody started by having a major groomfest, which is a great sign. All the older babies rushed Nibbles and have been grooming/looking for nipples and generally greeting the new female.

Right now the adults are all grooming each other and having a bite to eat (I always add a bit extra food and treats when mixing new ratties) and the older babies are grooming and running over the new babies. It will take some time for everyone to settle down to business (under our watchful eyes) but the beginning looks promising. A lot of sniffing and grooming, no squeaking or concern.

Will keep you posted.

With a smile,

December 13,2005: Sad news. Despite their best efforts, all of Nibbles' babies died. All 7 of them. Even the lactating foster moms eventually rejected them. It's obvious that they knew that there was something wrong with them. Deb agrees with me that the babies looked premature.

December 19,2005: I met Deb and Rob at a restaurant to welcome Nibbles home. The bodies of Nibbles' babies did not come home for cremation.

RIP ratties can be seen here


Taratoo - 
Sage's Niece 5 times removed

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