Hector





Hector was a hairless/double rex dumbo.

Hector was given to me by a work colleague who had bought him, but could no longer keep him as he had no other males at the time to house him with.

Hector was always more of a rat's rat than a people rat. He would tolerate handling, and a cuddle, but he was happiest when with other rats.
Hector's death was a shock, and something I'll never forget. I think of him almost every day.
I had two neutered boys, Riker and Geordi who I was trying to reintroduce to a group. Both had been castrated due to aggressive behaviour to other boys, but had since lived happily with an old female, and shown much calmer behaviour with other rats.
When the old doe they lived with passed on, I opted to try getting them both in with a group once more. Geordi, who was generally the more placid of the two, went into Hector's group with only minor scuffles. I then decided to introduce Riker. First impressions seemed good. Riker had a few moments of stamping about and throwing his weight about, but it was nothing too concerning. After some monitoring, all seemed to be well. I witnessed a small scuffle between Riker and Hector, after which Hector retreated to his igloo, but did not seem to be harmed.

Later that night, on returning from work, I went out to check and feed the rats. I noticed blood in Hector's cage, and assumed Riker had perhaps been fighting with someone in my absence. When I removed the rats one by one to check them for injuries, I found Hector with a portion of his intestine sticking through a small hole in his belly.

This was genuinely shocking, I'd never seen anything like it. In himself, he did not seem overly concerned, and was still happy to eat, but it was obvious this was more than a simple scratch or nip.
I isolated Hector, and attempted to push his intestines back inside, hoping I could at least prevent further damage until I could get him to a vet in the morning. The hole they poked through was tiny, and despite my efforts, I could not correct the damage.
I kept him comfortable and warm and gave him pain medication, and took him to the vet first thing the next morning. I think part of me expected him to be dead come morning, as I had no experience with such an injury in a rat, and could not see a good outcome.

The vet told me that there was the potential to operate on him and try to put the organs back in, but it would be very hit and miss as to whether Hector would ever live a normal life. She said some of the intestine was ripped, but as it still had a very good blood supply, there was the small chance it could be surgically repaired. However, there were some issues with the vet surgeon who would be the one to do the operation, and long story short, if I opted for surgery, it could not be done for another 24 hours. Hector, by this time, was showing pain signs, though he was still bright.

I had a very hard decision to make. The operation was risky, and he was given a 'guarded prognosis'. Even if they managed to get everything put back in place, there was no guarantee he would have a normal life afterwards, and it was unknown whether he would be able to poo normally. The operation would cost 170, which was more money than I had available to me at the time. But I decided that if I had to sell something, then I would do so, and agreed to the op.
I left Hector with the vet, and went to sit and have a think. And the more I thought, the more it seemed I was not making the right choice. His prognosis was poor even with the op, and he was already in pain and would have to wait another 24 hours to be dealt with. This all didn't seem fair to him, to me. I realised I was pushing for the op more for my benefit than his. If the prognosis had been good, I would have never had any second thoughts, but even the vet impressed upon me how uncertain the prognosis was. In the end, I opted for euthanasia. It was a heart breaking decision to make because Hector was a young rat and still relatively bright, even after the accident.

It is unknown how this occured. Certainly an attack from an aggressive rat can cause this sort of thing, but Hector had no other wounds on him, and the hole itself was absolutely tiny. It is possible he had a pre-existing weakness here which was brought to light after the attack, as it certainly did not seem an attack serious enough to cause the injury it did.

Why Hector? Hector was the name of a french rat who was the first rat in space. I discovered this the night before picking this little boy up, so it seemed right!

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