Costas was a chocolate Berkshire dumbo
Costas came to me with his brother, Stavros. Both rats came from horrendous conditions at a 'petting zoo' in Peterborough. They were two of 14 rats taken from the premises where they were living in their own filth, having never been cleaned. The rats were thought to be living outside, in the elements, and most of them had wounds from fighting due to the over-crowding, or even possibly attack by wild rats. They were horribly thin, too. The rats were due to be put into the freezer and fed to snakes.
These boys were taken on by another rescuer, who then rehomed these two to me. When they first arrived from the zoo, they would apparently scream at anyone who got close, and were very difficult to handle. The previous rescuers did a wonderful job with them and by the time they came to me, they were handleable, if nervous and distrusting still. Both rats were thought to be around 9 months old, but they looked like ancient old men! They had little muscle tone due to being unable to move far in their previous cage.
Both rats had terrible respiratory problems when they were first taken from the zoo due to the conditions they were kept in and ammonia causing damage to their lungs. They were treated intensively before coming to me, and where much improved by the time I picked them up. However, they will probably never have healthy lungs and may need repeat treatments in the future.
Costas was always the most outgoing of the two, and seemed the most robust. He came out of himself a lot more quickly than Stavros, and within a few days of being home, was actually becoming quite pushy! He began to give me little nips, out of the blue, seemingly just because he didn't know any better. Using the squeak method, I had him completely nip-free within a few days. Costas came on wonderfully. He began to look glossy and fat and was acting like a rat of his age should.
However, only a short while after, he suddenly became very ill. He was quite lethargic one day, and not keen on coming out. He didn't seem to have much interest in anything and was quite limp when I picked him up. I managed to get him a vet appointment for that afternoon, but the vet couldn't pin-point anything specifically wrong with him. He suggested it might just be his bad lungs again, even though his breathing wasn't too bad at that point, and he was put back onto baytril.
I nursed Costas for a day or two, but he wasn't eating much and seemed to be deteriorating. I then felt a lump on his lower belly, which I'd never seen before. I took him back to the vet who said it felt like it was on his bowel, and could be either a rupture or tumour. Either way, there was nothing that could be done for him and he had to be euthanised.
It was a heartbreaking end to a life that only had a few good weeks. I can cope a lot better when I lose a rat that has had a good, long life, but Costas had a life of abuse a misery, then died far too young. He had only a few good weeks of life, and it is horrible to think that just as he was starting to turn the corner and live like a rat should, he became ill.
If there is a hell, whoever kept him in such poor conditions and neglected him and the others for so much of their life will be burning in it.
Why Costas? Named after one of my favourite actors, Costas Mandylor.