Grout was a russian dove.
Grout and Jester came along simply to appease my urge for new rats.
Grout was the first rat I've ever had to have neutered.
As he got older, he became increasingly aggressive toward other rats. Originally he would simply badly bully whoever happened to be the omega of the group (which was Genghis, at the time), which in and of itself was bad enough, but he soon began picking on Jester too, who should have been his beta and exempt from his tyrany.
Both Jester and Genghis would huddle terrified in tubes or balls while Grout stomped about outside trying to threaten them. He would chase them off food, and wounded them fairly often.
As if his behaviour toward other rats wasn't bad enough, he was also making himself miserable as it seemed he simply couldn't relax. Every play time he would spend puffing his fur, stomping about, scent marking and being very stressed and angry. It seemed he never had a moment where he could be a happy, relaxed rat.
I don't tend to like surgery in rats unless there is no option, so I tried several things with Grout, including herbal extracts to try and calm him down, but he just kept getting worse. Eventually, I made the decision to have him neutered.
I was very nervous about the whole thing, as you hear stories of rats dying from the op, or afterwards from post surgical infections. But Grout came through his op fine.
However, 10 minutes after getting him home, he had to be rushed back as he pulled out his skin glue and the wound was opened up again. The vet knocked him out, re-glued the wound and we went home again. Grout was insistant on bothering the incision, and I sat with him for about 4 hours, pushing his nose away from the wound every time he tried to bite it, never daring taking my eyes off him incase he tried to do it again. In the end, I had no choice but to make him a body cast, since buster collars are virtually useless on rats. A body cast is a stiff bandage that you wrap around the rat's body, usually secured with tape, and it prevents them being able to bend in the middle, so they cannot get to the wound to pick at it. Here is a photo of Grout in his:
Grout remained in this for 2 days, until I went to change it and was unable to get another bandage to stay on as well. So he went without it, and fortunately his wound had healed together well enough for him to be ok without it.
Rats remain fertile for up to 2 weeks following a castration, so he was kept alone for this time, also to give him time to heal properly. After that, I introduced him to my girls. He went in with them absolutely fine, and Frankie seemed thrilled to have a boy she could call her own!
Soon, Springer was put in with the girls following his own neuter, and he and Grout never quite saw eye to eye. Although they generally ignored one another, Springer would bully Grout if given half the chance. Originally, I didn't want to move Grout out of the girl's cage as he was bonded to Frankie, but when she passed away, I decided to try him in with my big group of boys instead.
He went into the group without issue and it seemed to give him a new lease of life. Whereas before he'd become quite lazy and inactive, he seemed to rediscover his energy and it was good to see him finally settled and happy.
Grout's death was quite unexpected. He had been starting to slow down of late, and had slight arthiritis in both hind legs from where he had previously fractured them, but otherwise seemed in good health. He developed a minor ear infection for which he was given ear drops, but a few days after finishing his course, I found him dead in his cage.
He seemed to have died in his sleep, and there were no clues as to what may have gone wrong. It was heartbreaking to lose Grout because he had been through so much and, following his neuter, had turned into such a lovely, gentle boy.
Sleep well, little space explorer :(
Why Grout? Im a big fan of early 90s MTV show, Sifl and Olly. Grout was a side character in the show who was a self-proclaimed space expert.