How to help a Grieving rat.

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TrundleMan

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Mar 30, 2022
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How to help calm a grieving rat.

Hey,

One of our boys passed away nearly a week ago and the other two are taking it in different ways.

One of our boys, Pablo is taking it ok. He’s always been more introverted and has retained that but he’s a bit more willing for pets.

Remy our other boy however, seems to be taking it really hard. Nothing would stop him. He was usually the first out the cage and the first to come and hang out with me all night.

Now he’s skittish and not as trusting as he was. I figured it’s because we took him and his recently passed brother to the vets a day before it happened and he’s correlating that with us and his brothers passing?

He’s also been making these almost pigeon sounding noises, which he has in the past and was treated for pneumonia. The difference this time is that he doesn’t sound like that all the time, just when he’s been sniffing around his brothers favoured places and being handled. We’re still going to talk to a vet about it but he’s already on antibiotics for an abscess.

We’re all feeling the grief over his brother and we just want to help him through this process. I don’t want to lose another one of my boys, especially to an avoidable situation.

Any tips on how we can help them in their grief would be massively appreciated. We feel totally at a loss atm.

(RIP Jub Jub, we all miss and love you so much)
 

Evermore

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Oct 10, 2019
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Hey, I know this comes a bit late, but I'm so sorry for your loss. RIP, Jub Jub.

Remy is definitely grieving (Pablo as well, but likely in his own way). The grief process and stress may be impacting his immune system. If he's being skittish, try a quieter/calmer approach. You may have to start taking the initiative to take him out of the cage for socialization, if he's not being aggressive when you attempt it. He may not be up for "fun" like free-roam time, but just let him vibe in your sweater or under a blanket while you're watching TV, or playing games, or (if you work from home) while you work. The best thing you can do to help him through it is to maintain some semblance of a routine and positivity.

Rats do have a social hierarchy, though in my experience some colonies are more or less strict. Consistently though the "mood" of the group becomes muted for a few weeks, sometimes longer. I had one rat I was on the verge of syringe feeding because after we lost our 4-year-old female, he just laid in the cage and refused to eat. He ate just enough; but this lasted almost 2 months. It could be that Jub Jub was the confident one, and that gave a rat (Remy) that has a naturally shy disposition enough security that he mimicked said confidence. He may be feeling insecure and nervous with the loss, as he doesn't understand why Jub Jub disappeared. Sadly, there's just no way we can explain that to them.

Tl,dr: Try some high value treats when you see him, without expecting him to come out. Just talk to him when you pass the cage. Play soft music to match the energy (some of my rats love music and lay as close to the speakers as possible; others don't care so I mean, hit or miss here). Do take him out when you're able just to let him have some warm cuddle company a little more often (or a little longer) than normal. Do the same for Pablo, because while he may not be showing it, the extra TLC will benefit them both.
 

Rattie

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One of our boys, Pablo is taking it ok. He’s always been more introverted and has retained that but he’s a bit more willing for pets.

Remy our other boy however, seems to be taking it really hard. Nothing would stop him. He was usually the first out the cage and the first to come and hang out with me all night.

Now he’s skittish and not as trusting as he was. I figured it’s because we took him and his recently passed brother to the vets a day before it happened and he’s correlating that with us and his brothers passing?
How are Pablo and Remy doing? I hope they're okay.
 

TrundleMan

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Mar 30, 2022
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How are Pablo and Remy doing? I hope they're okay.
They’re doing much better now, thanks for asking!

It took them a good week for them to go back to some sort of normal. It was seeing them go to Jub Jubs usual hanging spots waiting for him that got me the most.

They’ve definitely changed a bit after losing their brother. Pablo is much more accepting of pets and will actually move himself for us to get to his favourite spot. Remy has always been attached to me by the hip and he’s getting back to that point now.

Maybe I’m just putting human expression into them but there are times I think that they’re thinking of Jub Jub as they tend to sleep for time together in his favourite part of the cage.

Thanks for asking, I appreciate the reaching out!
 

Evermore

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Oct 10, 2019
Messages
21
Location
Ontario, Canada
They’re doing much better now, thanks for asking!

It took them a good week for them to go back to some sort of normal. It was seeing them go to Jub Jubs usual hanging spots waiting for him that got me the most.

They’ve definitely changed a bit after losing their brother. Pablo is much more accepting of pets and will actually move himself for us to get to his favourite spot. Remy has always been attached to me by the hip and he’s getting back to that point now.

Maybe I’m just putting human expression into them but there are times I think that they’re thinking of Jub Jub as they tend to sleep for time together in his favourite part of the cage.

Thanks for asking, I appreciate the reaching out!
I'm so glad to hear they're doing better. It's hard to tell what are projections and what they are feeling, but, most social animals seem to show some form of grief (or at least, awareness, when a family member goes missing or passes). Elephants, primates, and birds in the corvid family are good examples of that. But, science-y/behavioural stuff aside, wishing you all good things for the next while and hope all of you heal (including you).
 

Rattie

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They’re doing much better now, thanks for asking!

It took them a good week for them to go back to some sort of normal. It was seeing them go to Jub Jubs usual hanging spots waiting for him that got me the most.

They’ve definitely changed a bit after losing their brother. Pablo is much more accepting of pets and will actually move himself for us to get to his favourite spot. Remy has always been attached to me by the hip and he’s getting back to that point now.

Maybe I’m just putting human expression into them but there are times I think that they’re thinking of Jub Jub as they tend to sleep for time together in his favourite part of the cage.

Thanks for asking, I appreciate the reaching out!
Glad they're back to normal, that must have healed you somehow. Is adding a new rat out of the question?
 

SqueakingJellybean

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Apr 12, 2013
Messages
205
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Ontario, Canada
Glad to hear your guys are bouncing back. At least they have each other. I'm so sorry for your loss.

We lost one of our two, Arthur, to congestive heart failure. His buddy, James Bean, is not taking that loss well. He's withdrawing from us a bit, not coming to be petted as much, pulling back into a hide or box if we talk to him. He used to run right over most of the time to lick hands and faces, but since Arthur passed, he's done progressively less of that. (His hearing and sight also seem to be going a bit. He's over two now; I consider anything over two years to be borrowed time.)

We've got a line on some friends for him, which I think will help a bunch. However, like your guys, he's sounding a bit rough. I hope the grief hasn't tanked his immune system too badly. He's got a recheck of a fatty deposit coming up; I'll ask the vet to check his respiratory system as well.

Thank you for making this post. I don't think I'd have made that connection otherwise.
 

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