It's inevitable. Love and care for a houseful of animals, every once in a while you have to say goodbye to them.
Laverne, the last of Penny's babies, developed a mammary tumor just like her mother and sister. Penny and Shirley were euthanized.
The word is that spaying female rats between 3 and 4 months of age will reduce the chances of them developing mammary tumors by 75%. But spaying a rat (who weigh in at 350-450 grams) is very risky and we opted not to do it.
Penny got into Nic's cage and in about one and a half seconds, she was pregnant.
21 days later, she gave birth to just two little pink girls:
(Laverne and Shirley, June 10, 2006)
In six days, they had already grown the sweetest, softest dark fuzz, indicative of their adult color.
Laverne, 6 days old.
To give you an idea of what a mammary tumor can do to a rat, here's Shirley on the day we euthanized her (Laverne's tumor was twice as large as this):
See here and here (cute baby rats and my girls!) and here(really cute pics!) for a few back posts about our baby rats.
Laverne was our escape artist. Once when she was just a few month old, and again when she was about a year old. She was sweet and gentle, she groomed me often (a very big compliment in the rat world), she knew her name and came when called.
There were plenty of times that I thought we should put her down. But I would open her cage and pick her up and she would brux (a grinding sound they make with their teeth when they are happy) and my heart would melt some more. When the tumor got too large for her to groom herself, I brushed her with a Barbie brush. When she couldn't reach her food bowl anymore, I rearranged her cage so she could get to everything she needed.
Yesterday, she was just laying on her side quietly. I knew the end was near, so I gently stroked her head and ears and whispered, "It's okay, Laverne. It's okay...."
Last night, her breathing was almost imperceptible. I covered her with a towel and put her in a dark quiet room. She was gone about an hour later.