Our rat Archimedes passed away last night.
We called him Daddy Bear because rats are like little cuddly bears, and because he was the daddy of our other rats (except for Minerva, who we looked after until she passed, and our new young boy Imhotep).
We bought him from a pet shop, with Athena, who was the first of our rats to pass away at the end of June last year. Pet shop ratties often do not have the strongest of genetic lines, we have discovered. Although rats are said to have a lifespan of about 3 years, Daddy Bear was only 2yrs and 3 months, and since Athena we have also lost five other of our ratties. It’s been heart-breaking to go through so much loss, but I wouldn’t give it up for the world because we love them all so much and they have loved us back. Rats are the best pets we’ve ever had: kind and cuddly and intelligent and fun, and sometimes downright hilarious with their antics – their shortgevity the only drawback.
We have two more baby boys reserved from a private breeder, that come from a stronger genetic line, so hopefully they will be with us for a long time. And we still have Archimedes and Athena’s babies Isis, Orpheus, Thalia, and Euphrosyne, although Euphrosyne is not well at the moment and may pass very soon.
Last night and today, and most likely for days to come, my wife and I are filled with tears and sadness, but also with occasional smiles and bouts of laughter as we remember all the joy that Archimedes and his children have brought into our lives. He has actually been ill since December, so we have been blessed for him to stick around for so long. He’s been suffering from a degeneration of the back legs and a general loss of coordination, so we’ve had to help him with feeding and cleaning himself. He had been free-roaming out of the cage for some time, and although his back legs didn’t really work, it didn’t stop him gliding around our flat, pulling himself along with his front legs. He had such vigour, was full of life, and he enjoyed all the attention he was getting from us. He had even been sleeping in bed with us for some time: when he needed a cuddle, food, or to go pee or poo, he would nuzzle Natasha to wake her up.
For the past couple of days he had slowed down a little and was sleeping a lot, though it was still a surprise when, late last night, he woke up to let us know that it was time for him to go. He passed so peacefully, and we love him so so very much, and are eternally grateful for the love and joy he brought into our lives.
Fly free and play hard over the rainbow bridge, Daddy Bear.
We love you forever and always. ❤