Ophelia was a roan dumbo.
I recieved a phone call from my vet practise one afternoon, asking me if I had any space for new rats. Apparently, someone had brought a rat in to be euthanised because she had bitten their child.
The receptionist couldn't stand by and see this happen, so the owner was asked whether she would mind the rat going to a new owner instead?
She said she didn't care one way or the other, so I rushed to get Ophelia when my shift ended.
I was handed a very young, clearly scared little rat in one of those plastic rat 'run around' balls.
She did not attempt to bite me on our first meeting, and she did not ever bite me, in the entire time she lived here. Your guess is as good as mine as to how or why the owner thought her to be vicious and deserving only of death.
But Ophelia's story is a harsh reminder of what happens when parents don't think that hard before rushing out and getting their child a pet.
Ophelia was timid when she arrived. She was also uneasy about being handled. In her total defence, why wouldn't she be? She was a young rat, snatched from her siblings and family and any companionship of her own kind, and sent to live a solitary life where her only interactions with other living things was to be poked and prodded by a young child, and probably handled roughly.
Wouldn't you be a bit defensive if that was your life?
Ophelia never became a 'people' rat. She was perfectly sweet, perfectly easy to handle and was never aggressive, but she just preferred the company of her own kind. She made friends with the other girls on her first day here, and never looked back.
Ophelia died young. To this day, I am not completely sure what the cause of her death was, but I do know it was something I'd not experienced before.
She went downhill very suddenly, and died less than 24 hours later. At first, her symptoms appeared to be similar to those of a rat with a pituitary tumour or that had experienced a stroke; she lost mobility, tended to cirle and her head was tilted. But she did not appear to be in any pain, so I opted to take her to the vet the next day, but she passed away before that could happen. Though now I know there would have been nothing that could have been done for her anyway.
She went downhill very quick, quicker than a rat with a pituitary tumour would. From talking to other rat people, it seems most likely she developed some kind of internal infection which just took over her whole body.
It is sad that Ophelia was not here for longer. We had her for only about 4 months. But at least she did get 4 months of good life, with lots of friends, before she passed away. Thank god the vet receptionist thought to ring me, and how sad that we live in a society where people would rather kill and animal than put any effort into working with it. Ophelia did not bite once when here, and was certainly not the savage beast her previous owner obviously thought she was.
Why Ophelia? I named her after a Tori Amos song.