Agent Orange





Agent Orange was a silver fawn hooded.

Agent Orange came to me with Tyrus

I recieved a call from someone who told me she couldn't keep her rats as she was pregnant/had just had a baby (I can't remember which) and her midwife had told her that it was dangerous to have the rats around the baby.
I've heard this several times and it is complete rubbish. Rats are absolutely no threat to a baby or a pregnant woman. They cannot pass any diseases or infections on to either mother or baby.
Unfortunately, some midwives are not educated on rats and still seem to think they're disease carrying vermin who will harm a baby, and they're happy to pass this ignorance on to new mothers.

The woman had been so scaremongered into believing this that she had housed the rats outside in a rabbit hutch. While its fine for rats to live outside, they must have a shed/garage/outbuilding to live in and not simply be placed in a hutch or cage outside. They need protection from the elements, and from perdators. A weasel or stoat can get into a rabbit hutch, no problem, and will kill rats in an instant.

When I went to collect the boys, they were in a small, wet, dirty rabbit hutch in the garden. The straw they lived on was saturated with either urine or rain water, and they were both filthy.

Below is a pic of Agent Orange on his second day here, and he'd had a bath since then. All but the orange fur on his head should be bright white, but as you can see, it was a nasty yellow:

Its rare for rats to get into this state unless they live in filth. Rats clean themselves many times a day, and all my white rats keep themselves bright white just via this. These boys must have lived in filth for some time to have it build up on them like this.

Both boys were timid and clearly hadn't been handled much, if at all.
Tyrus seemed to go into the group with the minimum of fuss and arguments, but Agent Orange had clearly always been the boss out of the pair, and wasn't happy having to move in with a big group where he wouldn't be in charge any more. This isn't uncommon in older boys who have always just lived as one of a pair.
He went into the group for a couple of days and was relatively ok, if a little nippy toward the others. But after a couple of days, once he'd built his confidence in the group, he began bullying other rats, biting tails, and causing trouble without provocation.

At that point, he was removed from the group to allow them to settle without him and sort out a solid heirarchy. In this time, a bite wound he had sustained during the intro because infected, despite regular cleaning and antibiotics. He also developed an infection in his hind leg, and another abscess on his neck. These sorts of issues usually heal up pretty well in a healthy rat, but Agent Orange had issues healing so he needed to go back to the vet. The vet said he may have some kind of immunity issues, as he should not have such problems taking such a long time to heal. He was on two different types of antibiotic to help clear them up.
However, he became subdued when he hurt his foot as he couldn't run around and cause trouble, so it proved to be a good time to put him back in the group.

To cut a long story short, Agent Orange never took to other rats. He was always a bully, always causing wounds and I had to make the decision to move him out of the main group and house him seperately with Tyrus, the only rat he ever got on with properly.
Agent Orange lived happily with Tyrus for the rest of his days, and was clearly just one of those rats who are happier in a pair with a long time buddy rather than accepting a hoarde of new friends!
Agent Orange lived to a good age, as he wasn't young when I got him, but developed respiratory problems in his later months. He was treated with antibiotics, and while the issue would go away for a while, it would always return, and it returned severely one day. Agent Orange went from relatively healthy to dead within 2 days. I believe he had some kind of tumour growth in his lungs.

Agent Orange was always a grumpy rat. He stopped nipping not long after being here, but he was never a rat that relished handling; he was a rat's rat rather than a people rat!
But his death hit me quite hard, despite him never having much time for me. I think its because, despite this, he so clearly wanted to be with me when he died.

Why Agent Orange? I actually named him after the Tori Amos song, due to his colouration.

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