|The Critter Nation with the shelves and ramps and most accessories removed.|
Each level is closed off to make two hospital cages.
Hammie (top) and Burt (bottom), giving me the stink eye.
Hammie and Burt were neutered yesterday, and the surgeries were performed without incident. Both ratties came home last night. Hammie had already perked back up to close to his normal self (surgery? what surgery? why am I locked up alone in this boring cell?). Burt was a little out of it and I think in a little pain or discomfort, because he started chewing on the plastic pan of the Critter Nation, filling it with little black plastic shavings. However, this morning, he is much more himself.
Of course, after the surgery, there is a period of special post-neuter care. Our instructions are to continue this care until their follow-up appointment a week from today.
First, they need special living arrangements. They need to stay in a one level cage with only a low-hanging hammock, to limit climbing and stretching and anything that might cause the incision site to open or become infected. They need to be kept alone, separate from the other rats. I do have one smaller one level cage that I use for travel (longer trips) and as a hospital cage. However, since both boys were neutered at the same time, I would need two such cages. Since I didn't really want the expense of a second hospital cage which would not be used often, I decided to go a different route. I closed up the middle ramp of the Critter Nation and zip-tied it in the up position, then put the full sized bottom tray on the top level to cover up the ramp opening. I put the notched upper level tray on the bottom, but covered the exposed grate with a small liner, then a small flat circular weight from my husband's old weight set, then covered the entire pan and opening with a full-sized liner. I now had two separate cages. I took out the shelves and the metal frames that held the shelves, all of the hammocks, the lava ledges, the huts and space pods and baskets, and the wheel (which got moved to the Martin's R695 to Bobo's delight). I left the litter boxes and a single low-lying hammock. I also kept a cuddle cup in each cage, figuring it wouldn't hurt their sutures any.
It is important that the incision site not become infected. To try to prevent that, the cage must be kept extra clean. This means changing the bedding every day. Using fleece as bedding is ideal as it will promote less waste (just change-out and wash the liner each day) and it has less chance of dirt or debris finding its way into the incision site. I was told that a litter box with paper pelleted litter was okay. Again, it should be changed daily.
Both rats were prescribed meloxicam (aka, Metacam) for pain. They were given an injection at the vet's office and we were given some oral meds to take home with us. They will receive those meds once a day for 3-5 days, as needed. Hammie is already acting so good, 3 days will probably be plenty for him. Burt may need an extra day or two. They both have had their morning dose, which they took willingly and without any struggle.
The incision site must be checked every day. I am to report any swelling, discharge, or redness - or anything that just looks off. I checked both boys today and was surprised by how good the incision site looks already. Below is a picture of Hammie post surgery (not a great view as I took this myself with the camera on a timer):
In the mean time, in order to free up the Critter Nation for the boys, I had to advance the introduction process between Ruby (spayed female) and our other two new boys (Bobo and Jeremy). We had been doing introductions for quite some time, but the progress had stalled. Ruby is terrified of the two other boys, even though they have never hurt her or made any attempts to hurt her. She starts whining (a mew type sound) and sometimes outright crying (a more screechy sound that sounds like someone is getting murdered) whenever they get close to her or try to smell her private parts. However, I have no concerns about anyone's safety. We have been doing these introductions long enough that if someone were to get aggressive, it would have happened by now. But Ruby is not going to get over her fear unless she is forced to. So yesterday, we moved Ruby into the Martin's R695 with Bobo and Jeremy. She is still not crazy about this new living situation, but I think that after a few days she will realize that no one is going to hurt her and things will improve.