Henry was a black hooded
Henry came from the pets@home adoption center.
I went in to get rat food one day, and saw this young rat huddled in the adoption center looking a bit terrified in general. He was one of the surplus stock that they had been unable to sell so were now putting up for adoption instead.
Generally, I don't feel 100% comfortable getting rats from this adoption center (see this article on why: The pets@home adoption center: good or bad? ) and almost walked on by. However, even pets@home tend to recognise the importance of rats being given company, and this lad was all on his own. I assumed that they would have a policy where they would only adopt him out to someone who already had a rat, or was going to get another to keep him company.
I asked about this and whether they would be checking that whomever adopted him had another rat for him to live with.
I was told that no, they weren't concerned with that, and that they believed he could have just as good a life living on his own, as long as his owner 'gives him enough attention' (if only I had a pound for every time I've heard that!)
Once it became clear that they didn't give a monkey's about homing him to a suitable home, despite me telling them that he needed a rat companion, I made the decision to adopt him. I was not about to let them hand him over to the next clueless person who walked in wanting a lone rat to keep in a hamster cage for the next 2 years.
On getting him home, Henry was very nervous of being handled. He'd clearly not been handled much at all in his life. He was also shell shocked by the sight of the other rats, and took a little while to get over his nerves around them.
However, as he got older, he actually became the alpha rat in the group. And a very good one he was, too. He was seldom aggressive, but everyone respected him. He would step in to sort out fights, but always with calm, firm intervention, never bullying.
When Henry got old, he began to have slightly laboured breathing. He didn't have any other signs of respiratory illness, but he would breathe quite hard. I took him to the vet who diagnosed him as having something akin to bronchitis. He said it was quite bad, and there wasn't much use left in Henry's lungs. I was quite shocked. He'd not shown any signs of illness until the laboured breathing, and that hadn't been going on for long before I got him vet checked.
The vet prescribed him steroids to be on for the rest of his life, but warned me that he probably would only have a few weeks left.
Well, Henry went on to live another 3 months or so. Though he gradually declined and began to lose weight, he was active and ate well right up to the end.
In fact, the night before he died, he'd been tucking into some chicken!
The next day I'd found him on the floor of the cage, sitting on his own, and he was freezing cold. He seemed as if he wasn't aware of his surroundings. I brought him indoors and put him on a heat pad with some easy-to-reach warm baby food. But I think I knew at that point that he was likely not going to survive much longer.
Henry lasted one more day indoors, then he stopped eating. He became extremely lethargic, and simply lay on his heat pad for hours without responding or moving. He passed away the next morning in my arms.
Why Henry? He was named after the guy from the movie 'Eraserhead'