Over the last couple of weeks, I have been following the fates of 4 rats surrendered to a Chicago-area shelter: one mother rat and 3 male offspring. The rescue that sometimes pulls rats from the shelter did not have any space for them, so they were stuck there with a time limit over their heads.
I thought for sure the 3 boys would find homes - especially since Petfinder doesn't often list much availability in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, with the closest available rats to me usually being in either Wisconsin or Indiana. I was afraid that if the boys were adopted, mom would be left behind, and if that happened, I was going to take her.
However, the shelter did not list them on Petfinder and these rats continued to go unclaimed at the shelter. So eventually, my husband and I decided we would take all four and spay momma so she could live with her boys afterward. When I took Jeremy in to the vet for his post-neuter appointment (everything went great with his neuter!), I also made an appointment for momma rat's spay, even though I did not yet have her.
Unfortunately, when my online contact went to pull the rats from the shelter, she found that the shelter had put momma back with her boys, even though she had told them to keep them separated. I am guessing that cage space was at a premium, but unfortunately, the solution to that problem doesn't include putting intact males and females together. That only creates a greater demand for cage space.
I was told she was very likely pregnant and is showing signs, so she may be due soon. I was given the opportunity to return her to the shelter, but no good could come of that.
Needless to say, I have adopted 3 new boy rats and one most likely pregnant momma. The momma's name is Lilly and I am told she is an agouti hooded around 6 months old. Two of her boys show high white markings, so if she gives birth, we have to be aware of megacolon as a possibility. I will be picking all four rats up later today.
If we do get babies, this will be my first (and hopefully only) litter. I admit, I am inexperienced and don't know what I am doing in this arena. However, I am far from the first person to take in a rat only to find out she may be pregnant and others have survived this ordeal and done just fine with the rats, so hopefully, we will too.
Since I likely will never do this again (unless I become more involved with rescue), be sure to expect lots of pictures. And be sure to tell me when I am doing something wrong. I am still holding out hope that maybe she is not pregnant - and if that turns out to be true, I will be thrilled. But if she is, I am hoping for an uneventful and extremely small litter.