As you may recall, we adopted Lilly (and her three boys) almost a week ago. When a volunteer went to pull her from the shelter, she discovered that the shelter staff had put Lilly back in the cage with her sons - a situation that was likely going to lead to pregnancy. We chose to adopt her anyway and put her on pregnancy watch.
I have been checking Lilly every evening for signs of going into heat - as an indication that she may not be pregnant. Good news! Yesterday, I believe I witnessed signs of Lilly being in heat. I was massaging her hips and every time I did that, she would friskily hop away. I even think I saw her ears vibrate at least once. When I looked at her lady parts, her vaginal opening appeared very "open."
I am no expert (never having had an intact female before), but I believe these are all signs of heat. And the signs were quite obvious to me, so I am fairly certain Lilly is not pregnant.
That is a huge relief. As interesting as raising a litter may be and as cute as the babies may be, it would have been quite a challenge to raise all of those rats (we already doubled the number of rats in our house when we took Lilly and her boys) and to find them all good homes. I would always worry about the rats that found new homes: Were they taken care of? Were they getting necessary vet care? Did they get attention? Did they have rattie friends throughout their life and a good cage and diet? Add to that the potential megacolon risks from high white markings, and it is a welcome relief to be reasonably certain there will be no more babies in Lilly's future.
So now I plan to move her to another cage - one with more space and fun things to do. I will check again in 4 to 5 days to see if the signs of heat recur, just to make sure I have this right. I can't wait to get her spayed and put her back with her boys.
I am thinking about ordering another Dual Critter Nation for Lilly and her boys. If they can be successfully introduced to the other rats, we could make it a Quad. If not, they can live separately in their own DCNs.