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Phoenix Jellygirl (RIP)

Origin: Private rehome, origin unknown
Born: 1 May 2010 (estimate)
Died: 16 February 2013: Aged 33.5 months
Cause of death: Stroke (PTS)
Colour/variety: Russian blue Berkshire dumbo
Health: Mammary tumours removed June and October 2012
Weight: 287g
Temperament: Very sweet, gentle girl who has largely overcome her fear of people and other rats
Nicknames: Nix, P-girl, Penix

Oh Phoenix, my sweet gentle Phoenix. I'll miss your serious little face at the bars every day, and the way you always would back away from being picked up, and then immediately happily nestle into their arms. Thank you for the time we were given with you. You made an impact on a great many people that day, and you came so very far - further than anyone who first met you could have imagined, and I'm so very sad to see you go :~(


In June we took on an older lone rescue girl who had been left alone since the loss of her cagemate. When she came to us she was in poor condition with sparse coat and a large lump. She was also pretty much unhandleable as she hadn't been handled in her previous home, and on the day she arrived she bit one of my very rat-savvy friends who tried to pick her up - it was clear that it was out of fear rather than aggression though. Phoenix was given a new hopeful, forward-looking name and was immediately introduced to my kindest oldie (Fliss). After a week of calorific foods to build her up a little, Phoenix went in to have the lump successfully removed. It was very well attached so a relatively big op but she healed really nicely. For the first time, I applied to the North of England Rat Society's Rescue fund for help with the op cost. Once she had healed up for a few days and the wound had started knitting together, I introduced her to my bigger group of rats where Fliss previously lived. Introductions initially went well through the small cage stages and Phoenix picked up in confidence, but once in the big cage she regressed and became terrified again, sitting in a corner and not venturing out even at feeding time. Some of the younger girls also started picking on her and rather than go back and start the intro again, I decided to try her (and Fliss and Rae) with Stanley and Dicey, who had been living in a trio with Busby. The rationale being that Phoenix would cope better in a smaller group in a smaller cage - less rats to keep an eye on, and less space to get freaked out by. Happily it worked out really well for all involved and they were a really happy little group, who also welcomed Nancy when she started to struggle in the main cage.

Unfortunately Phoenix started growing another lump shortly after surgery. It was initially slow-growing and we attempted to control it with Galastop, but it grew quite big and in October we opted to have it removed, as it would have ulcerated fairly soon had we not tried the surgery route. Happily it went fine, although the vet said that it was most probably malignant and one edge was so attached and vascular that it wasn't possible to remove it completely. Hopefully she has another few months left with us, however.

Phoenix is such a sweetheart - very gentle and careful, with amazing big expressive eyes! - but I had never met a rat who is so scared of people. For the first week we just talked to her a lot through the bars and gradually built up our relationship to the point that I could hold her. From then on she's been absolutely fine, although she still hates being picked up and often tries to hide. I'm generally of the belief that most rats respond better to confident handling and that if you pick them up and put them back down again many times over a period of time, they will realise that there is no danger and learn to accept handling fairly quickly. With Phoenix we had to take a slower and gentler route but it absolutely worked out in the end. Now, she doesn't mind sitting in your arms for a bit and will accept quite a lot of fuss before she's had enough!

Phoenix received a NERS Silver Longevity Award for reaching 32 months.

(click thumbnails for larger versions)


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