Thursday, March 12, 2009

Laverne (June 10, 2006-March 10, 2009)

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:
babies 1 day old
(Laverne and Shirley, June 10, 2006)

In six days, they had already grown the sweetest, softest dark fuzz, indicative of their adult color.

close up 6 days old
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):
Shirley 062307

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.



egretsnest said...

I'm so sorry. They hold us by the heart, don't they? Thinking of you and your sweet girls.

Kallen305 said...

So sorry to hear this. I too am thinking of you and the girls.

NCmountainwoman said...

Dang. It's so hard to lose a pet. They steal into our hearts so quickly and we must grieve when they are gone.

KGMom said...

As soon as I saw the title of your post--a name & inclusive dates--I knew some creature had departed this earth.
It is always always sad.
Many years ago, we had a gerbil (our first pet)--we named him Joe. The day he died, he crawled into my hand and just did not want to leave. Dumb me, I had errands to run. So I put him back in his cage--and when I returned he was gone. I wished afterwards that I would have held him until he died.
So, goodbye sweet Laverne--join Shirley and all the other dear creatures we frail mortals have loved.

CatMom said...

So sorry to read this -- what a sweet little furry creature. Just remember that you've swapped parts of your hearts, so your heart will be part rat heart forever. (And I mean this in a good way.)

NatureWoman said...


Mary said...

Gosh it's hard...

Thinking of you and your little girls right now. Sorry.


Trixie said...

I love the image of you with a Barbie brush. You are so loving and special. Hug your girls for me and my girls.


nina at Nature Remains. said...

There is so much they add to our lives, even in their passing. That connection with another.
Sad for your sadness.

RuthieJ said...

Oh Susan, I'm so sorry. The loss of a pet is hard, no matter how big or small.

dguzman said...

Oh Susan--big big hugs to you and the girls. I'm sorry. said...

I love rats as pets. We had two great ones and I never knew what the word for the happy teeth grinding was. One died of old age and the other had a tumor. People have a very negative view of rats, but they are clean, smart and cute...Michelle