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Bernie Mac (RIP)

Origin: Local petshop
Born: July 2008 (estimate)
Died: 16 February 2011: Aged 31 months
Cause of death: Nosebleed due to tumour/thinning of membranes (PTS)
Colour/variety: Agouti hooded
Health: On/off respiratory infections and lung scarring (on steroids for her last 6 months). Benign mammary lump successfully removed at 26 months. PTS after several large nosebleeds within a few days.
Weight: 280g
Temperament: A real live-wire! Intelligent and curious
Nicknames: Bernie, Berns, Mr Burns, Rat-Rat, My Mac

16/02/2011: In true spirit, Bernie was active until the end and managed well in a cage full of young uns - with the help of several extra wet meals every day to help keep her weight on. We'd found blood in the cage on two consecutive days but were unable to locate the source rat, until I got in from work and Bernie had a flowing nosebleed. When I phoned our vet she said that it's possibly a tumour or general thinning of the membranes due to the steroids/resp issues, and that it's likely to reoccur. Bernie was weak and squinty-eyed and couldn't even stand up, although bizarrely keen on food and once the bleeding stopped she gobbled up anything I put in front of her and soon seemed completely back to normal. The next morning however there was more blood in the cage, although she seemed happy enough in herself, and when I got back for lunch she was bleeding again - with at least three episodes within 18 hours, there was only really one decision we could make. We both took leave from work and jumped in a taxi to our vet who'd been treating her for quite some time. Bernie was so sweet, you could tell how tired she was, and she kept climbing onto the vet's shoulder and when I picked her off she snuggled under my top and lied all still. I stroked her head and her big eyes looked so weary and so so so so immensely beautiful.

Our first ratty gone. First to arrive, sixth to leave. She taught me so much, and we experienced so much together. We went through a succession of cages before finding one that suited all of us. She has been with me for everything - tried every toy, every food ingredient. I owe her everything. Now she's left and I have to learn how to deal with rat-keeping without her. It feels so very strange. We miss Bernie so much. I'm incredibly grateful for everything she gave us and showed us, and the blissfully long time we got to spend together, but bloody hell we miss her. One scrawny little ratty gone. Seven mental ones still thundering around happily. And the flat never felt more empty :-(


In so many ways, Bernie is my very first rat. She totally stole my heart a beautiful Sunday in August 2008 when she met my gaze through the glass of the tank. I remember actually running to find my husband to ask if pretty please could I get my rats today, right now. It really felt like we’d made a connection and there was absolutely no way I could have walked away from the look in her eyes. (Knowing this weakness in myself is part of why I now avoid petshops.) She is one of a kind and very very special to me. She is such a character, very brave and clever as nothing else. Bernie is submissive to us and to her cage mates, and very kind to babies. She has always been the most energetic and curious of the group, and even now at over 24 months she’s not showing any signs of slowing down. She is lean (probably from not sitting still very much), fast and agile and can do incredibly high, long and accurate jumps. Bernie has got the most amazing keen eyes and will often sit and observe us while we watch TV, speak on the phone, eat, etc. We joke that she wants to be a person. She trusts us very much but is shy with strangers. Her favourite trick is to stealthily pull up the edge of the blanket covering the sofa, dive under and tunnel the length of the backrest. She squeaks unhappily when we pull her back out but within minutes (if not seconds) she’s back again. She can do it non-stop for an entire evening and her persistance and ingenuity is remarkable. My husband has the world’s biggest soft spot for her. She really is a very special girl.

Bernie received a NERS Bronze Longevity Award for reaching 28 months; she was three weeks away from claiming her silver award when she died at just over 31 months.

(click thumbnails for larger versions)


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