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RIP Marshmallow

April 11th, 2016

Photo taken 2.5 weeks ago

About a month ago I knew Marshmallow’s time was quickly approaching (I estimate he was born sometime between mid December to late January 2014; he was a Petco feeder rat). He has always been my thinnest rat, not motivated by food like the others. I made sure to spend more quality time with him and in the past two weeks I even put him on the bed with Milo and Gizmo to play and he behaved himself.

Mid last week I noticed I wasn’t having to fill his food dish as often as before and he would only eat treats. Then he started limping a little. Well, by Friday he was not doing well. He was sleeping all the time and would barely move. He wouldn’t take food at all, and I knew he was dying. Saturday I had him on my lap for hours while we watched tv because his little body was so cold to the touch. I wrapped him up and we both sat under my heated blanket. I also crushed up some food and added water to it and fed him with a spoon. He’d only eat a little, and take a little water from the spoon as well.

By Sunday he wouldn’t even do that and wasn’t moving at all. Why is it my rats always go downhill on the one day the vet isn’t open? Ugh. I thought for sure he’d be dead each morning I checked on him but he kept trucking on which worried me because he wasn’t eating, drinking, or even really moving. He also would poop/pee all over himself and just lay in it. I would clean him up and he’d be limp, yet still breathing. It was so sad.

This morning he was lying on his side with his eyes open as if he had died but was still breathing and blinking his eyes if I pet his head. I called the vet to make an appointment to put him out of his misery. I wrestled with whether it was more humane to let him pass naturally, but I couldn’t stand knowing he was starving himself to death. He wasn’t responding to my touch and almost seemed to not be there mentally anymore. I felt so bad seeing him that way and I only hope I did the right thing.

The exotic vet wasn’t on staff until Wednesday but the vet who saw us has euthanized rats before and explained the procedure. Basically they gas the rat to cause it to fall asleep and then inject a drug into the heart to cause it to stop. We couldn’t be there for that part (nor would I want to be) but she brought him back into the room afterwards for us to say our final goodbyes. I opted not to get ashes back because what the heck would I do with them? They asked if I wanted a clay paw print created but I said no because I’m trying not to add more stuff to the house. Does that sound callous? It’s just that 1) we don’t have any from our previous rats and 2) I would feel like I should get them for all of them moving forward, and considering their short life spans, I’d end up with a huge pile of them. What would I do with them? Stick them in a box? I dunno. I hope I don’t end up regretting that decision. Besides, I have my photos and videos to remember him by.

When I had to euthanize Templeton, the only other pet I ever had to make that decision with, I opted not to see his body afterwards, but I wanted to see Marshmallow so I could get used to this process. Unfortunately rats only live about two years so that means there’s a very real possibility I will be going through this four more times this year as all my rats were born between Jan 2014 and June 2014.

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