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African Pouched RatKali aged 6 weeks
Kali's vital statistics
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Species: African Pouched Rat (Cricetomys gambianus)



28 August

Ambaa and Babu both came out together last night for the first time since babu hurt himself. They were delighted to see each other again. There was lots of mutual grooming and they sat really closely together.

Babu was pleased not to be isolated and Ambaa, who had been rather withdrawn without Babu, was much more outgoing and confident. She always relied on Babu to lead the way. Other evenings when she’d been let out on her own she hadn’t ventured far from her carry case.

28 August

Babu is showing some signs of improvement. He is moving his back legs from time to time but there isn’t any strength in them and he does not seem to know he’s moving them.

When I lift him up he has a good stretch and his back, back legs and tail all stretch. He pushes his back legs out and splays his toes. As soon as the stretch is over his back end goes limp again.

Sometimes when I’m stroking him and scratching his sides his back leg will come up and start scratching, as if he’s scratching an itch, but it soon stops and the leg goes limp again.

These movements seem like instinctive reactions and are not really under conscious control. However just in the last couple of days I have noticed some movement which does seem to be intentional. It only happens just after I’ve got Babu out of his ’hospital’ home and put him down in a larger space. He stretches when i pick him up and as soon as I put him down again he crawls away from me using his front legs. A few days ago his back legs just trailed behind him but now he brings his hind legs forward in a walking motion. There is no strength in motion and he stops after a few steps but before he didn’t move his hind legs at all.

He’s still got a long way to go.

19 August

Babu and I have practically lived at the animal hospital this week. Heís been prodded, poked, stretched, x-rayed and examined from every angle. My vet canít detect any trauma to his spine. This means that there is a slim chance that Babu may regain some mobility. The X-rays did show some slight misalignment but nothing conclusive.

Babu is fine in himself. He is alert and eating well. He canít get around much and I have to help him empty his bladder three times a day! But apart from getting frustrated at times he is alert and lively so the vet suggests that he should be given three weeks to see if there are any signs of improvement.

15 August

Babu has hurt himself. The vet thinks that he’s either fallen and broken his back or had some sort of fit or stroke.

I went in to check on the rats just before midnight and I found Babu flat out on the floor of his house. His eyes were wide and staring. I could see he was breathing but he wasn’t moving at all.

I called the Vets and arranged to take Babu to the surgery. He seems to be paralised from just below the sholder blades. He could feel the vet when she pinched his feet and he moved his legs a bit.

The vet has given him painkillers and and anti-inflamatory injection. He’s back at home know and I’m hoping that he’ll show some signs of improvement by the morning. I’m due to take him back to the vets mid morning

10 August

Iíve changed the ratís bedding from wood-based cat litter to a chopped cardboard bedding. They have taken to it well and enjoy digging in it and pushing it around.

It is not as adsorbent as the wood-based litter but it is much softer and doesnít have such a strong scent.

I had planned to put them on chopped cardboard from the beginning but my previous supplier is no longer trading. I am now getting the bedding from Earthly Enterprises.

7 August

Ambaa and Babu had a great time playing in the hall and landing tonight. This was the first evening when I let them out to play without cleaning their cage as well Ė that will happen on Wednesday night as usual.

Because I wasnít cleaning their cage they didnít have to stay in their carry case very long. They were quite slow to start exploring because they hadnít got bored with being in the carry case and because it was a bit earlier in the evening. After about 15 minutes staying in and around the carry case they started to explore and before long they were both charging about.

They got very excited and they starting fighting again. It is Babu who starts the fights. He begins by gently washing Ambaaís face but before long he gets very vigorous and grooms her very hard with his teeth around her mouth eyes and ears. He gets right inside her ears and eventually he get too rough and she lets out shrill little squeaks when he hurts her. She then turns away from him and he clings onto her with this front legs and continues to groom her behind the ears and over her back. It is almost as if he is trying to mount her. Babu then starts to nip Ambaa and she turns round to face him and before long they are up on their back legs, nose to nose, pushing each other with their front feet. The Ďfightí didnít last very long but I managed to get some pictures of it which I'll put in the album shortly. After a few minutes both rats were running about again as if nothing had happened.

Babuís nipping and biting reminds me a lot of ferretís mating behaviour but other Pouched Rat owners donít think this is any part of courtship behaviour. They could be right but it has only started since Ambaa and Babu matured.

They have both got the idea of getting into their carry box so they can be taken back to their house. As soon as Iíd get the carry box ready they both came up to it. Babu was the first in. Ambaa wasnít quite sure and didnít seem to know where the opening was but she found it eventually, with a small shove from me, and I was able to get them both home together.

6 August

There was a huge noise coming from Ambaa and Babuís house this afternoon. I ran in to the room to find them locked in a fight. They were both up on their hind legs with their mouths locked together, pushing each other around their house with their front legs. Their teeth were clashing together and making a loud clicking noise. They didnít appear to be physically harming each other so I watched them crash about their cage for a few moments. The fight broke up and Babu went back to the nest. Ambaa went an sat in the opposite corner and gave herself a good wash. They both seemed quite calm.

I checked on them again a little later and they were both curled up together in their nest fast asleep.

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