Ramsay was a black hooded.
Ramsay was found dumped in a woods in his cage, and taken in by another rescuer. When I saw him on the rehoming forum, and read about what a horrible experience he'd had, and his nervous temprament, I just had to apply for him. Older bucks who have temeperament or trust issues and need some work are my favourite type of rat to take on. Its so lovely to work with them and help them regain trust in people again.
When I picked Ramsay up and got him home, it was obvious that humans weren't his favourite thing on earth. He would squeal whenever you so much as brushed a finger against him, and picking him up for more than a second to move him from cage to cage was pretty impossible. Although he never attempted to actually bite, he would struggle for all he was worth, while screaming like he was being murdered.
After allowing him a day or so to settle, it became clear that he was actually interested in people, and he would peer out of the bars when I approached rather than just running and hiding, but he was extremely timid and it was obvious he had suffered some kind of abuse in his life. The fact that he objected particularly to being lifted suggests he may have been roughly handled or squeezed by kids or something.
However, inside him was clearly a sweet guy just waiting to come out. I worked with him, spending a lot of time with him on my lap and soon he was much more comfortable with being picked up. He would still squeak at you, a habit he never really lost, he remained a grumbly rat for his entire life, but he stopped struggling so much and seemed to realise that there was nothing to worry about.
I think the big turning point for Ramsay came when I put him in with other rats. It was unlikely he had ever seen other rats before, and neither the rescuer I got him from nor myself knew how he'd react. Fortunately, my group of boys is the most soppy, welcoming, gentle group I've ever known so they all seemed thrilled to meet him. Ramsay, on the other hand, wasn't so sure about all the attention, and he spent a good deal of time squealing at anyone who came near him.
But my boys are truely an exceptional group and as this pic of Jigsaw comforting Ramsay proves, they only ever want to make new boys feel welcome:
Shortly after getting Ramsay, he developed a respiratory infection which he was treated for. He occasionally had little flare ups of it now and then, but it wasn't anything major. Other than that, he was always in good health.
I adored Ramsay. The fact that I could pick him up, flip him on his belly and blow raspberries on him without him so much as wriggling was such a good feeling when you consider how terrified he was when he arrived.
Although Ramsay's true personality was masked behind his fear at first, it soon started to emerge and it became clear that not all his squeaking was due to fear. He is genuinely quite a strong willed character and he would certainly let you know when he objected to something. He had been seen screaming at other rats who simply wanted to share his sleeping place. In all likelyhood, he had been a lone rat his whole life and was used to having everything his own way. He adjusted well to sharing in the end, but was always be a bit of a drama queen! Whenever there was squealing heard coming from the rat shed, we all knew it was Ramsay!
Ramsay was one of those rats who die in their sleep, out of the blue. He was an old boy, but had not been ill and seemed to just die peacefully in his sleep one night. It was a shock, as I'd only been saying a few days prior to it how well he was looking. I miss Ramsay a lot. He was such a vocal rat, and such a character, that the cage really does feel a bit empty without him. Sleep well, little donut.
Why Ramsay? He was named after Gordon Ramsay, because of his tendancy to rant and rave and make a lot of noise when he was displeased!