Mark was a black berkshire.
We'd gotten a call from a parent about her daughter's rat. Apparently, she'd gotten this rat, then just lost interest in him and was now at the point of just giving him a handful of food every day and ignoring him. Her boyfriend apparently was the only one who kept on top of the rat's water, and without him, it may never have been done.
The mother seemed concerned that the rat wasn't getting the attention he deserved, so asked me if I could take him.
When we arrived, we were led to the bedroom where Mark lived. He was in a cage, alone, with no hide-outs, hammocks, toys or anything to amuse himself. It must have been a horribly boring life for him.
Sadly, many rats live this way.
The mother did the right thing by contacting me, but there are many rats that spend their lives alone, cooped up in a cage with nothing to do and little to no contact from their owner's. If you can imagine being locked in one bare room with just a matress in the corner, without anything to amuse you, and no-one to talk to or interact with, for the whole of your life, you can see why I find these kind of situations so sad.
I find this kind of thing just as upsetting as a rat with a physical injury or illness, and lone rats do reside quite firmly at the top of my priority list when it comes to rescuing.
A lone rat in a barren cage really is the most miserable of creatures.
There is a saying in the rat community that companionship is as important as food and water to a rat.
Although Mark was in good condition, and his needs had obviously been met physically, his mental needs had been very much neglected.
At first, I was concerned that Mark would be a tricky rat to integrate into the group, as he seemed to have this pushy, domineering attitude of 'Im used to having things my way!'
As it is, however, he integrated perfectly, little to no fighting, and he accepted company with open arms. The change in his personality from being quite stressed and serious to being very chilled out and playful was wonderful to see.
Mark was one of those rats who seemed to actually 'smile'.
Mark got old, and began to lose weight, and passed simply from 'old age'.
Why Mark? I obtained Mark only shortly after Hoffman passed away. As Hoffman was named after SAW character Mark Hoffman, I wanted to keep the theme, so this lad became Mark! His real name is actually Shadowrat Make A Real Killing, which is convinient too :P