Bertie was an agouti self.
Bertie came to me when I decided to add some babies to my big group of males. I had only middle-aged or elderly boys in the group, and the result was a rather lazy, inactive bunch of rats! Adding youngsters always seems to perk a group up, so its something I do from time to time when things get a bit stagnant in there.
I searched the rescue pages for some rescue babies, but there were none available. I asked a local breeder friend of mine if she knew of any rescue babies around this area, and she said she didn't, but that she did have some kittens herself that needed homes! I like to support ethical breeders every inch as much as I support rescue, so I agreed to take a couple of kittens.
Agoutis, along with blacks, are my favourite rat variety, so when I found out there was one of each on offer, I leapt at the chance.
Bertie is quite a timid little buck, but this was not helped by the fact that he and Reggie arrived at the peak of Gordon's aggression in the group. It resulted in them not settling into the group as comfortably as they could have. Bertie, in particular, was scared of Gordon. One night, I found Gordon sidling up to Bertie and threatening him, so I shooed him away. When I went to pick up Bertie to check him for wounds, he was so scared that I was Gordon, back to torment him, that he screamed and bit me.
I don't blame him for it, he didn't mean to bite me; he was just terrified and thought anything that touched him was Gordon. He showed absolutely no aggression since that incident.
Bertie's death was a great shock to everyone.
He died suddenly, without any prior illness or symptoms, and appeared to have died in his sleep. He was in his prime, was glossy, active, and as fit as a fiddle. There is absolutely no obvious reason why he should have died. The day before, he'd been happily running about at free range time, and doing some pea fishing. He was the last rat in the group that anyone would expect to lose.
I know I should have had a post mortem done on his body, but I was so shocked by his sudden death that I couldn't bring myself to. Some suggestions have been made that perhaps it was the heat. We'd had a few unusually warm days at the time he died, but none of my other rats showed any signs of heat problems, and Bertie was cuddled up in his hammock when he died, something Im not sure a hot rat would do.
I will never know exactly what caused his death, and thats very upsetting. I can only take comfort in knowing that he died in his sleep, and did not have any prior illness so he never knew suffering.
Why Bertie? Bertie's proper name was Bertram, but he usually got called Bertie. He was named after Bertie Wooster, of the P.G Wodehouse 'Jeeves and Wooster' series.