Gabriel was a Platinum Rex.
He and Seven came to me as an attempt to cheer myself up over a difficult breakup. After I'd agreed to take Seven, the breeder asked me which other rat I'd like to go with him. She said there was a platinum rex available but he came from a different rattery. I'd always wanted a rex, and platinum is such an unsual colour that I had to have him. Gabriel was a bit of a champ at shows. In his youth he was entered in the pet class as his rexing isn't good enough for him to be put in the varieties class and at his first show, he won the title of 'rat the judge would like to take home', as well as a nice ribbon. At his second, he won best opposite age pet and another ribbon.
Gabriel was as good as blind. Rats don't have great eyesight at the best of times, and ruby/pink eyed rats have even worse. As a baby, he seemed to not notice anything until it was right on top of him, not to mention he was a lot more withdrawn and placid than his friends, which blind rats often are. The vet confirmed that, although he could see a little, it was mainly just lights and shadows.
Gabriel was a remarkable rat as he became seriously ill on a number of occasions and each time we thought he might die, but each time he bounced back. Unfortunately, he spent the last few months of his life living on his own. He developed what I suspect was vestibular disease and began to find it hard to navigate the big cage. Despite treatment, it never really improved and I was forced to move him into his own single level cage so he wouldn't end up hurting himself. Since he was away from the group for such a long time, Iowa would no longer accept him back and so he had to be content with occasional visits from Seven, who would live with anyone without fuss.
Gabriel soon developed myco aswell as his head tilt and began to lose a lot of weight. Despite this, he still loved his food and would eat like a pig, and he still enjoyed his time out of his cage where he'd toddle about on the bed or pester Seven.
Gabriel died on June the 28th. I came back from a friend's house to find him dead in his cage. He'd been off his food the day before but he sometimes did have days when he ate less so I didn't think much of it. I will never know exactly why he died but he was an old rat with a lot of problems so I suspect it was simply his time. Gabriel was always a bit of a loner and he didn't care much for human or rat company. He was happiest when left to his own devices with a big bowl of food.
Why Gabriel? Gabriel actually chose his own name. He was such an unusual looking rat that he needed the right name. I had lots of ideas but couldn't settle on one I liked so I let Gabriel choose. I put all the names onto bits of paper and screwed them into little balls. Then I held the pile out to Gabriel and, knowing how baby rats test things with their mouth, waited for him to pick one out. He picked Gabriel.