Ace was a hairless.
When I applied to adopt Ramsay, the rescuer who had him told me she was soon to be taking in two young hairless rats from a lady who claimed they were biters. She knew that I already owned hairless and were familiar with their specific care, so asked me if I would like to take these two along with Ramsay.
Of course, I said yes!
However, these boys were not yet with the rescuer, and soon it became clear that they were in a dangerous situation as the lady who owned them wanted them gone NOW. She was so keen to get rid of them that she was going to drop them at the local RSPCA, where bitey rats are usually euthanised right away. With her living a good way from any of us, it really became a race against time to get these rats off her before she took them to the RSPCA. Even the knowlege that the rats would be collected soon and that they already had a home lined up didn't seem to make any difference to the owner.
For several days I worried, cried, fretted and felt depressed about these rats; I felt so helpless. However, thanks to efforts on the part of some members of the rat forum, the babies were eventually brought to safety. I was so happy when I found that out.
I picked Ace and his brother, Giblet, up along with Ramsay. The first thing that became apparent about these two rats was that they did not bite, and had likely never bitten. Its surprising how many people think a nibble on a finger is a bite. Trust me, you know about it when a rat bites you. These two were still babies, so nibbling of fingers is to be expected! They were both a little timid when they arrived, but they at least had each other. As they were young, they both went into the boys cage without issue, and now they both lived happily there.
Ace was a strong willed, intelligent, calm rat and would have made a fantastic alpha. Since he first went into the cage, he always preferred to hang around with the high ranking rats, copying their behaviour, and never behaved in a typical baby rat way. He now held a fairly high rank within the group, while his brother seems unconcerned with such nonsense and would rather just play and pester everyone.
Ace began to get respiratory problems in february, which he was put onto Baytril for. This seemed to improve him for a short while, but then the problem returned. This time, he was put onto aureomycin, but this didn't seem to help. One day, Ace began gasping for air, so I took him back to the vet. As it was a fairly urgent appointment, I wasn't able to get in with my regular vet. I'd done some research and was beginning to suspect Ace may have heart problems. He had a lot of the symptoms: breathing problems, swollen abdomen, poor colour, lethargy. I suggested trying him on frusemide to clear the fluid and help him breath better. The vet agreed, and he was given an injection.
At home, this seemed to help, and I began to be hopeful that we might have found out how to treat him. He was taken back the next day for another injection, and I was given some syringes to take home so he could have another injection later. He was also given fortekor to help his heart.
However, that night, he went downhill again and I began to think it may be time to say goodbye to him. He would gasp for air fairly often, and although he still ate and drank, it was not a state a rat should be expected to live in for too long.
I got up early the next day and took him in to the saturday open surgery to have him put to sleep.
However, Ace always had good times and bad times, and he seemed to actually perk up in the waiting room. His breathing eased, and he even felt happy enough to sit on my lap and munch some pasta.
We saw yet another vet who said his stomach didn't feel too bloated, and he told me to cease the frusemide, but continue the fortekor, but that he didn't think Ace looked poor enough to be put to sleep. He gave him a shot of steroid and some more to take home.
That night, Ace was once again, noticably brighter.
On sunday, he had gone back downhill again, and even another injection of steroids didn't seem to bring him back. I knew at that point that we were getting close to having no options left except putting him to sleep.
I took him back to the vet the next day, my regular vet this time, hoping he might be able to come up with some sort of treatment we had not yet tried. But he had a feel in Ace's abdomen and could feel knobbly masses in his stomach. He thought that Ace had some kind of cancer or growth that had spread to his lungs.
He offered me possible x-rays to see if they showed anything conclusive. But doing this would have involved having to knock him out, and put him through a lot of stress to diagnose something my vet was fairly sure about. Rats with respiratory issues are an even bigger anaesthetic risk, so I didn't think it was fair and opted to have him put to sleep.
It was a horrible situation as he was still a young rat who, before his illness, had been in his prime. I tried my very best for him, but unfortunately, hairless rats are never given the best start in life, and situations like this only confirm to me that it is time people dropped the prejudices and began trying to breed this variety to be healthy. No rat should be dying under a year of age.
Why Ace? I struggled for a name for this boy for a while. One day, while looking through pics of Queens of the stone age, I saw a pic of Josh wearing a t-shirt with an ace of spades on it. So Ace it was.