Strahm was a black Irish.
I found Strahm on Gumtree being offered as free to a good home. It was clear from his picture that he was extremely young, probably too young to be away from his siblings and on his own. He was located in London, a good distance from me.
I contacted the owner on Saturday evening and said I'd be happy to take him on. He got back to me within minutes and said he was fine with that, but that he needed to have him gone by sunday.
Obviously with it being Saturday night by that time, there was no way I could get to London for Sunday at such short notice.
I told him I would be able to come on Tuesday, but he wasn't happy to wait. At this point, I started to become concerned for the rat's welfare. When people are adament that an animal has to be gone by a certain deadline, you have to wonder what will happen to them if they're not.
Fortunately for me, and Strahm, my best friend, Roach, lives in London, only 15 minutes from the rat! I contacted her to ask if she would mind picking him up and holding him for me until Tuesday. She said it was no problem, and I felt relieved.
From texts back and forth to the owner, he told me that he couldn't keep the rat as he had anxiety and the rat was just another issue to contend with. He said he'd gotten Strahm (then called Charlie) from a 'breeder' in Hertfordshire who had met him at the train station with two rats in a cardboard box.
The 'breeder' hadn't allowed the owner to see the rats and had just taken £20 from him and left. Upon getting them home, he'd found one of them was a female! He'd given her to a pet shop, but kept Strahm. He also told me that the rat had a respiratory issue and he'd taken him to the vet for some antibiotics.
Baby rats should not be given Baytril as it can affect their bone development. Its also rare for a rat of such a young age to have respiratory issues already, so it was more than likely just a stress response, for which medication would be no use. I urged him to stop the Baytril.
On tuesday, Jon and I drove up to London to pick Strahm up from Roach. The first thing I noticed was how tiny he was. Roach even said she was worried he was a mouse when the man first showed him to her! He must have been 5 weeks old, if that, and still had his baby fur.
I got Strahm home and it became clear that being taken off his family so young had affected him in other ways. He wasn't a good eater, which isn't unusual in rats taken off mum too soon. Mother rats teach their babies what to eat and what not to eat, and rats learn lots about life from their siblings. If a rat is taken away and kept alone too young, they never learn these things.
I put Vegas in with Strahm as he is a gentle, smart rat. Within minutes of watching Vegas, Strahm began eating, copying him! It just proves how important companionship is to rats, especially babies.
From then on, his appetite improved, but it was clear that he wanted to play, and my older rats weren't up for boisterous baby play! I had no other young rats at the time, so I made the decision to get a companion for Strahm who was more his own age.
That was Jethro.
Strahm went to the vet a few days after me having him, just for a check over. The vet agreed that he did not need the Baytril and it was very likely simply stress causing him to sneeze.
Within 2 or 3 weeks, his respiratory problems cleared up on their own.
It was clear that Strahm's former owner cared for him, as he'd spent a lot on vet's bills, and bought the rat a huge amount of bowls, bottles, food etc. He was not a bad person, simply someone in over their head. He obviously loved the rat, but made the smart decision to give him to someone who could look after him better.
Strahm was a lovely lad. He was bouncy, gentle, fun-filled and cuddly. He died peacefully at home of old age.
Why Strahm? His full name is actually Agent Strahm. Both Roach and I agreed on the name because we're both huge SAW fans, particularly Agent Strahm!