The importance of staggering ages

For all aspects of your rat's health, from prevention, to symptoms, to treatments and veterinary care.
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Amzy
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The importance of staggering ages

Post by Amzy » Mon Aug 01, 2011 4:30 pm

As a fair few of you know since the 1st of June I have lost 7 rats. I'm not sure whether this post is for my benefit (to offload) or whether it is to actually highlight the real issue of having a vet fund/staggering age groups/the issues surrounding rescue.

I knew I was in for a string of losses due to having a few older rats, but having lost a couple unexpedidly It's beginning to tear me apart a little. Through the past 2 months I have experienced 2 sudden losses (young girls), 2 old girls come into rescue and passing before leaving foster care, 1 expected loss (a permanent girl with a large lump) 1 neutered buck whom age was unknown but unexpected and 1 older girl whom went downhill seriously and died in my arms last night.

When people say on here that you have to be aware of having a large group of the same age because of vet bills it is because that it is true! I had a very well bonded retirement group and after loosing the first oldie, the others gradually went downhill. I think grief acted as a catalyst for some of them. It's absolutely torn me apart recently because it seems to be one after another.

When I lost my 10 month old parkie (nearly alpha) my whole girl group went downhill. Several young and fit girls had a myco flare up due to the stress and haven't been themselves. They are only just starting to settle again now.

My bank account has been destroyed of late not only because of the vet treatment from the 7 that I have lost, but because of the grief and stress on the others. Over half of my rats have been struck by grief and upset. Luckily I am able to buy Baytril by the bottle so I can self treat and don't have to have a consult fee every time I have a myco flare up.

This is a waffle of a post. But I wanted to highlight the need of having an adequate vet fund, and the importance of having differing ages within groups. I've become so paranoid about my rats health at the momant, but saying that all my deaths have been of differing symptoms. I just had a lot of oldies whose time had come :(

x
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Re: The importance of staggering ages

Post by Ratty_Rhian » Mon Aug 01, 2011 4:37 pm

I'm so sorry to hear about your losses :(. I completely agree. I currently have a group of 6 all of similar ages as I have lost 4 recently including my youngest who was 10 months. In 6 months time I know I'm going to start to lose these guys and I'm dreading it. This was completely unplanned, fosters just stayed who happened to be the same age as most of the others.
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Re: The importance of staggering ages

Post by nikki123 » Mon Aug 01, 2011 5:06 pm

I've lost 6 in four weeks :( 3 girls who were old and had to be help along the way :( 1 boy who suddely went down hill, 1 girl who had a possible pyo and was in so much pain and yesterday I found one of my old boys dead in the cage :(

I'm feeling really rubbish at the moment as you can gather :( I defiantly recommend vet funds and staggered ages though it was a 8 month doe that I lost :(

Sometimes I feel like given up keeping rats but I then look at my babies and they make me realise I could have it any other way!
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Re: The importance of staggering ages

Post by Hanlou » Mon Aug 01, 2011 5:26 pm

Aw sorry you've gone through all that. :(

I made exactly the same mistake when I last had rats. Had the same problem you describe too - the grief of some of mine certainly caused some of mine to have a premature death which was awful.

I too try to warn people of the danger of having lots of rats at a similar age because it's really hard. I almost stopped having rats altogether because of the heartache.

Am absolutely determined to be really sensible this time round!

Tons of hugs to you xx :hearts:
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Re: The importance of staggering ages

Post by acapae_wolf » Mon Aug 01, 2011 5:34 pm

Aww :( Good post to make though!
I'm trying reaaaaaaally hard at the minute to properly stagger ages. My aim is sort of 8-12 months, although the Hawthorns sneaking in have sort of put a slightly smaller gap in there.
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Re: The importance of staggering ages

Post by NickyE » Mon Aug 01, 2011 5:39 pm

I do totally agree with all the sentiments and I have tried to do this, in part conciously, in part not. I have rats from 10 weeks up to 22 months.

But horribly there's just no magic answer, if only there was. 18 months ago I went from losing one of my oldest ever rats - Melody who got to 3 years old - to losing my youngest ever rat a few days later - Monkey a rescue who'd been with me since a few weeks old only made it to 1 with awful myco. Maybe being dumped beside a river in a hamster cage with 10 others didn't help :( It's heartbreaking but the only thing we can say is they have a lovely life with us, be it days, weeks or years. I know it's not enough for us, but maybe it is for them?

Sorry, I'm posting these words again because they seem to make so much sense to me, putting it into words far more eloquently than I could have, and hopefully to others can relate to them too (original words changed from dogs to rats and apologies to Dean Koont for hijacking his words and to Amy for leaping into your post with them).

Rats, lives are short, too short, but you know that going in. You know the pain is coming, you're going to lose a rat, and there's going to be great anguish, so you live fully in the moment with her, never fail to share her joy or delight in her innocence, because you can't support the illusion that a rat can be your lifelong companion. There's such beauty in the hard honesty of that, in accepting and giving love while always aware that it comes with an unbearable price. Maybe loving rats is a way we do penance for all the other illusions we allow ourselves and the mistakes we make because of those illusions.
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Re: The importance of staggering ages

Post by KatieJ » Mon Aug 01, 2011 6:39 pm

I absolutely agree with Amy on keeping the vet fund, it's all very well expecting to lose certain rats through age or long term illness - but their cage mates don't expect it and the knock on grief and adjusting to the new social situation can cause even young rats to become poorly with the stress and require treatment, or even for previously quiet hormones to leap up and enough fighting to appear that you need to deal with abcesses or castrate.

As an aside, I am so sorry for both Amy and Nikki going through such a horrid time at the moment and hope you both know you are in my thoughts, although that doesn't really help at all. Wish I could help somehow :hearts:
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Re: The importance of staggering ages

Post by KellyTheCrazyRatLady » Mon Aug 01, 2011 10:28 pm

i bought 7 rats in 1 go from a breeder from 4 litters. i also have rescue rats. all of them are around 6-10 months old. there are about 20 rats above 6 months and below 1 year. i also have 4 rats who are 6-8 weeks old. all the other rats i have are around 14-15 months (3 rats) 1 rat is 20 months old and the other 2 are over 2 years. i have so many rats around the same age that i know i am going to loose so many at once.
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Re: The importance of staggering ages

Post by Neotoma » Tue Aug 02, 2011 7:13 pm

I think mixed ages is also good for the rats - having younger pingy things about can keep older rats more active and engaged. My 32 month old - mild HLD, mild kidney disease, reasonable advanced resp disease, and a suspected stroke a fortnight ago - just chased a 19 month old across the sitting room floor and tried to start a play fight :roll: I'm not sure that would have happened if he was surrounded by other 30 month olds.
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Re: The importance of staggering ages

Post by Lillyland » Tue Aug 02, 2011 7:22 pm

I'm not looking forwards to this time next year. I will lose a lot in a short space of time. :cry: (however, i am prepared for that - i knew it would be the case when i began breeding)

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Re: The importance of staggering ages

Post by blue92 » Tue Aug 02, 2011 7:23 pm

oh hun im so sorry to hear about your losses :( i lost 8 last week and another one at the beginning of this week after the loss of his cage mate. :(
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Giz
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Re: The importance of staggering ages

Post by Giz » Tue Aug 02, 2011 9:53 pm

Agreed, this is definitely very important advice..

I (well, we) had Chi Chi, Pixie & Koopa when I got the "boys"; Merry & Pippin for the OH. When Merry & Pippin had babies, we kept 3 from each of the 2 litters.

Then last year, well, from the end of 2009- the end of 2010 We lost 11 of them. I spent about €3000 in vet bills in the space of 6-8 months, and I'm hardly loaded.. That was almost 4 months wages! it was certainly a hefty chunk of savings..

It was heart breaking, at one point we lost 3 in a week.. I started to feel so numb and we were thinking of maybe getting ferrets in the hope their lifespan being longer would give us a break (but then the boys landed on our laps as a surprise so I guess we'll have to deal with 4 more losses in the next 12-18 months, at least I hope it'll be that long!!)

It may seem a bit morbid to be thinking of these things when you go to the breeder to collect your babies, but it's definitely something that has to be considered.. Fair dues to you for bringing it up..

So sorry for your loss.. All those losses were what inspired my last tattoo.. I hope you find a way to transmute all this pain and grief into something positive soon :)
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Re: The importance of staggering ages

Post by hlcasey » Wed Aug 03, 2011 8:14 am

I agree with what your saying! We have lost 6 rats in just under four months with sadly more to follow. Although all our rats came to us at different times as the are mostly rescue we typically get them at about a year or older age. We have worked out in the current group of 15 we have (for sure) 8 over 2 now, and two of those are 2 and a half so we are preparing ourselves for yet more losses, Roxanne passed away overnight as well bringing our losses to 7.

I don't regret my choice to take on rescues but have found it difficult to experience so many losses in such a short space of time (three in a month at one point). Even though there was a few months between each pair or individual coming to live with us we ended up them all being a similar age! It is definatly something to consider, over the last year we have calculated a vet bill of around £2200 pounds and we are going to try and have a better balance of ages in the future for the rats sake as well as ours as it cannot be nice to see several friends pass in such a short space of time and they miss having the young energy around them!

Currently with one with large unremovable lumps, one with a PT and two who are generally old and frail and a bit unsteady on their feet, it won't be long before the next few go on to play at the rainbow bridge. I am just greatful for the time they had with me and the happy lives they live (however short, Molly number 1 and Molly number 2 only lived with us two months before passing on peacefully).
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Re: The importance of staggering ages

Post by Jemma » Wed Aug 03, 2011 11:00 am

I’ve got to say I agree with this totally, it’s soul destroying when you loose several close together, it’s hard enough when it’s just one. One method I found works really well in helping to stagger ages is to work out the number of rats your comfortable with, then divide this by two (giving you the total number of pairs you will need to meet this number). Then divide 24-28 by this number (depending on how long you believe the average rat lives for). This will give you the number of months gap you need to leave between rats to maintain that number.

For example I like to have a group of 6 – 8. This means I want 3-4 pairs. I expect mine to live on average about 27 months. So this means to maintain my numbers with an even gap I should be looking to get rats around every 6-9 months. I

Of course this depends on how many rats you get at once, and assumes you have less than ore the same amount of rats as your maximum number. But it’s a pretty good rule of thumb to use that can give you info. For instance my current situation , I have 4, my two new lads joined me at the end of june. I know I should be getting 2 more little ones (from our very own litters eep) in November, that’s 5 months, less than my aim really but this will be staggered by a longer gap to the next ratlets, and is also off set slightly by the fact there was a good 12 months between my latest 2 and my other two lads.
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