Marco was a buff dumbo.
One day while getting supplies in pets@home, I decided to take a peek at their adoption center, as it had opened just a day or so earlier.
For an article on the pets@home adoption scheme, click here
Surprisingly, they already had a rat up for adoption. When I saw Marco, it was clear he wasn't in great health. He was small and very young, but there was something about his coat and his shape, and the fact that he had diarrhea, that rang alarm bells for me.
I adopted him, giving as minimum a donation as I could get away with, and took him home.
The first thing I did upon getting him home was bath him, as he'd been living in his own mess and pets@home seemingly hadn't noticed. It was then that it became clear what was wrong with him: he had a large, internal mass.
This kind of thing is unusual in a rat so young, but it began to explain why he was so small (cancers like this stunt growth in rats that are still developing) and why he had diarrhea. It was heart-breaking.
Though I knew from the second I saw him that he was ill, I hadn't imagined it would be somethign life threatening in such a young rat. I'd gone from being excited that I had a new baby, to thinking of his future in terms of weeks only.
My vet confirmed my suspicions and diagnosed him with bowel cancer. As he was also anaemic, the vet said there was a chance of something like Lukaemia aswell, and all I could do was make his final days good.
I wanted Marco to go in with my group as soon as possible, as he'd been alone up to now and he deserved to know what having friends was like.
When I first got him, Marco was a very timid, lethargic little rat who seemed like he just wanted the world to leave him alone. Then I let him meet Jigsaw, and it was like a light went on in his head. He began trailing behind Jigsaw, sniffing him, grooming him and acting like a rat for the first time.
Fortunately, with my group being so gentle and accepting, they welcomed him soon after.
Below is Jigsaw with Marco:
Marco was with me for only around 2 weeks before he began to suffer more effects from the tumour, and I had him euthanised. It was a horrible end to a life that was far too short, and I hold pets@home completely responsible for it.
Marco is a classic example of what shitty breeding can do to an animal. No rat should be getting internal cancer at that age, and it is proof, as if any were needed, that rodent mills churn out rats like objects without caring at all about their health. Marco is not the first pets@home rat I've had that ended up with internal cancer, and he likely won't be the last.
When I contacted pets@home to tell them that I was disappointed they hadn't even been able to recognise his health problems when I noticed them within seconds of handling him, they made feeble excuses about how he had been vet checked prior to being put up for adoption. However, they offered to pay his vet bills.
Marcos only vet bill was for his euthanasia, but you can bet I hit them for the full cost of that, and the initial adoption fee. Perhaps it will make them think a bit harder about where they source their rats if they are continually expected to pay out for their medical problems.
Why Marco? Marco was named after Marco Pierre White, probably my favourite chef ever.