I was never sure what variety Scooter was, he was never properly identified. He was likely something blue-based.
Scooter was yet another sad victim of Pets At Home's awful breeding and shoddy animal husbandry.
Jon found him in the adoption centre, where he was labeled as having had a urinary tract infection, which was apparently now cured, but they warned to keep an eye on it to ensure it didn't reoccur.
Jon and I decided to adopt Scooter as he was a lone boy, and urinary tract infections in rats can be tricky to fix, and tend to be on-going. I have had experience with this, so we decided we could give Scooter the best home.
I was at work when Jon went to collect Scooter, but he texted me as soon as he got him home to tell me something was very wrong with the rat. There was blood all over the box he'd been transported in, and when Jon sent me a picture, it looked as if Scooter was losing blood in his poo, not his wee.
On Jon's advice, as I still hadn't seen the rat in the flesh, I booked him a vet appointment. We'd only had him a few hours and he already needed vet care. Typical Pets At Home situation.
When Jon collected me from work, be brought Scooter so we could go straight to the vet, and I got my first real look at him. He was very badly anaemic, and his ears where white, as well as his teeth. Rat teeth should be vibrant orange, and any paleness in teeth indicates a problem. Scooter had no colour left at all. He was also very tentative when he moved, very slow and not at all like a normal baby rat should be.
There was also a swelling around his abdomen.
The vet said he was unsure what was causing Scooter's anaemia, but agreed he was very unwell. He said the swelling in his abdomen could be anything from a parasite burden to cancer, and he told me that I wouldn't be wrong if I wanted to put him to sleep there and then, as he didn't hold out much hope for him.
I opted to try treatment with Scooter, as he was still curious and didn't seem in pain. We put him onto antibiotics, and a course of panacur in case of parasites.
I fed Scooter a good quality diet, lots of fresh foods, rather than the bland, poor-quality rat nuggets he'd had at Pets At Home. I also began giving him iron supplements in his water to try and help his anaemia.
In a matter of days, the blood in his poo completely disappeared, and the colour began to return to his ears. In a week or so, his ears had regained almost normal rat colour. He was also much brighter, much more active and seemed almost like a normal baby rat at last. I knew Scooter wasn't cured, but I was happy I'd improved his life, for however long it may be.
We opted to put Scooter into the special needs group, as we felt he needed a gentle, easy going life for whatever time he had left. He went into the group quite easily for a lone rat, and had little problem being accepted and fitting in.
Scooter lived happily in this group for over a month, but then one day had a very sudden and severe relapse. He was suddenly paper-white again, was huddled in a corner, and wouldn't eat.
I rushed him indoors, and kept him in a small hospital cage where I kept him warm, and offered him soft foods to make things easier for him.
That day, he was very unwell, and quite un-responsive. He also had a lot of blood in his poo once again. I suspected he would die that night.
The next day, he was a little brighter, and had had a few licks of his food. There was also no more blood in his poo. I kept him alone for a day or two more before putting Doodlebug in with him for companionship. He continued to improve, and was soon back to his old self, and well enough to go back into his group.
Scooter then had another relapse about a month later, and this time could not be brought back. He died peacefully in his sleep.
Scooter was a remarkable little boy, considering my vet was hinting at euthanasia being the right option for him. He was here for about 4 months, which doesn't sound long, but to Scooter it was 4 months of good life he would not otherwise have had. We always knew he would not be a long lived rat, we were just happy to give him good food, companionship and vet care for as long as we could.
Pet At Home, unsurprisingly, had no idea he was so unwell. When I called them to complain that they'd not only adopted out a sick rat, but they'd obviously not gotten him the vet care he claimed he had, they told me 'he's seen 2 different vets'.
Sorry, thats an outright lie.
No vet worth their salt would miss his anaemia and the swelling in his tummy. He'd either never seen a vet, or the vets they use are seriously shoddy. Jon has only been involved with rats for just over a year, and he recognised this boy was very ill right away.
I got Pets At Home to reimburse my £40 vet bill for Scooter, though they did so grudgingly and weren't interested in seeing the write up my vet printed out which stated the rat was very ill and euthanasia had been suggested.
When I went into the store to get my money back, the people are the check-out seemed unhappy for me to talk openly about his issues, and tried to downplay them around the other customers by saying things like 'Im sure he'll be fine', and making me look like I was over-reacting.
If we'd left Scooter there, he would almost certainly have died within days. They had no idea what was wrong with him, and clearly their 'vets' are no good, and he would have remained alone until he died.
Scooter was a very loving, gentle, cuddly little boy without a single bad bone in his body. I adored him.
Sadly, Scooter's story is not unusual when it comes to rats from this pet shop. He is not the first desperately ill rat I've taken from them, and he probably won't be the last. This store needs to STOP selling rats, full stop. They clearly do not have the knowledge to recognise when they are ill, they do not provide them with the correct food or the company they need. Rats suffer at the hands of this business. But at least Scooter was saved from being one of them anymore.
Why Scooter? I wanted this boy to have a child-like, cute name because he was such a dear little boy with the happiest smile. Scooter just seemed to fit his happy-go-lucky, loveable demeanour.