Hudson was a black berkshire.
Hudson was one of those rats I let myself get involved with. I first saw him on the website 'Gumtree' being offered as free to a good home several months before, but he was located in London. The picture included with the ad was quite heartbreaking; he was being kept in a tiny hamster cage.
I forced myself to walk on by. After all, if I took on every sad case I saw on websites like this, I'd have 100 rats within a month!
But just before christmas, he was re-advertised. This time, the owner was giving away 2 rats. She now had a white female to go to a new home aswell. Below is the picture included with the advert, Hudson on the left, the girl on the right:
This picture simply broke my heart. It was bad enough to have one rat living in such awful conditions, but to have two was too much for me to take.
What really gets to me is that if you look at the girl, there is no area in her cage in which she can stand on her hind legs. All three 'platforms' are too low for her to do this. Also worth noting that both water bottles are bone dry.
When you consider a rat is estimated to be as intelligent as a toddler, it really brings it home to you how awful these rat's lives must have been. Not only were they in solitary confinement, their cages were bare. There was literally nothing for them to do and no-where for them to go in those cages. In actual fact, someone else had posted about their plight on the rat forum, which I only saw later on, so clearly I wasn't the only one who had been concerned for their welfare.
I conacted the seller and said I'd take both the rats on. And this is where the true cheek of the public will become apparent......
I started by asking if she could meet me halfway, as London is a long drive from me. I don't think its unreasonable to ask ex-owners to put some effort in too; after all, Im doing them a favour!
Originally, she said she was fine with that, which surprised me as most people I get rats from can't be arsed to lift a finger to help, they just want the rat gone.
But minutes later she sent another text saying that if she were to meet me half way, she expected me to pay her petrol costs.
I was offering to take off her hands the rats she'd been trying to give away for free for the last few months without any luck. I was offering them a great home, and helping her out in the process. And yet she expected me to give her money.
It didn't seem to matter to her that I would also have petrol costs to pay or that I was a sanctuary that received no funding. Do you ask the RSPCA to give you money when they rehome your dog for you?!
Of course not. And yet she went on to say that if I would not pay her petrol, then my options were to either forget about the rats, or to make the entire journey myself. Her words were something like 'well Im giving you two lovely rats'. She really didn't seem to grasp at all the concept that I was rescuing these rats because they were horrendously looked after; she genuinely thought she was doing me a favour by giving me these rats for free!
In the end, Jon and I opted to make the journey ourselves. There was no way I was going to leave these rats with someone so cluless, and also no way I was going to give money to someone who kept their rats in such horrible conditions.
We agreed to travel down on the Monday, the day after boxing day.
Fortunately for me, a ratty friend lived not far from the owner and she offered to collect the rats for me and look after them until I could get down to London. This ensured they were taken from that situation sooner and were safe. She also offered to keep the girl with her, as I had intentions of rehoming her on anyway once I had her as I was chock a block with girls at the time! So the girl stayed with my friend, and from what I hear, she is doing well now and has ratty friends to live with!
So, on the Monday, Jon and I drove to collect Hudson. It was a long day of driving, and tube journeys, but eventually he was safely home.
Hudson went into the group relatively easily. He didn't really have any medical issues, but was a little timid about being out of a cage. The first time I let him run on the bed, he seemed petrified of so much room!
He was a gentle, rather dopey little rat who lived happily in the boy's group. He was well liked and never caused any trouble. He did show a few territorial traits when he first arrived, as one would expect from an animal housed alone in a tiny cage for its whole life.
But these soon disappeared when he realised that none of the other rats meant him harm and that company was a good thing!
Hudson's life was transformed. He now had an enormous cage system, loads of companions, and he was one of those rats who really lived life to the full. Its was as if he knew he was lucky, and he really seemed to value what he now had.
Unfortunately, Hudson developed a mammary tumour on his underside. The vet examined him, and concluded that his lungs were too poor to make surgery an option; he believed he would not make it through.
He was also an old rat, so even if the huge risk was taken to try and remove the lump, the reality is that it wouldn't have bought him a great deal more time.
On my vet's advice, I made the decision to keep Hudson happy and healthy with his lump for as long as possible, then had him euthanised when he begun to show signs of discomfort from it.
This was very sad, as he only really had a few months of good life. He should have been living this life from the start, and it seems so unfair that he only got a few months of real life.
Hudson was one of those rare cases that actually made me cry to see him. Some people in rescue believe there is nothing worse than an animal losing its life. I disagree; sometimes there are actually worse things than the euthanasia needle, and I think living your whole life in solitary confinement in a room the equivilent size of a public toilet has to be one of them.
How anyone could ever think those were appropriate cages for rats, I'll never know.
Why Hudson? After the Hudson River.