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Meet Doodlebug, my special needs rat

Discussion in 'Small Animal Photo Galleries' started by Shadowrat, Jan 8, 2012.


  1. Shadowrat

    Shadowrat PetForums VIP

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    Doodlebug was a rescue I took in a short while ago from a run of the mill 'haven't got time for him anymore' situation.

    The previous owner said that her vet had said Doodlebug had downs syndrome :/ Now, while this condition has not, to my knowledge, been diagnosed in rats yet, it has been discovered in cats, monkeys, and non-human apes. So while I don't necessarily think he has downs syndrome in exactly the same way we would see it in people, I am open to the idea that he has a similar condition, or a rat version of it.
    He shows most of the physical traits associated with this condition in humans.

    But regardless of what it is, there is definately something not right about him, as you'll see from his pics.

    For his personality, he is generally timid and squeaky. Despite having lived alone his whole life before I got him, he has settled in well in my 'special needs' group, and is definately more a rat rat than a people rat. He doesn't like being lifted or held, but he is happy to lay on your lap and chill out. He likes licking, but only when you rub his ears.
    He does tend to have tantrums when things don't go his way, in a manner I've not seen before in over 14 years of rat owning!
    But he's generally a sweet, if rather....'immature' boy.

    I have yet to come across anything like this in a rat, and don't know what causes him to look the way he does. Im not sure if its an actual named disorder that I just don't know about, or whether its a combination of several individual problems, or whether it was caused by some kind of vitamin deficiency in his mother, or whether it is in actuality a rat version of down's syndrome.
    Hydrocephalus crossed my mind when I first saw him, due to the pointy upturned short nose which tends to occur in these rats, but he actually has no forehead swelling or any neurological problems. His head is pretty flat (though some of the photos can be misleading regarding that, trust me, it is).

    But he's gorgeous, and I love him to death:

    http://www.shadowrat.com/rats/doodle1.jpg
    Unfortunately, due to his shortened face, he suffers the same problems as dog breeds with shortened faces, which is snuffling and weepy eyes. The vet has said not much can be done about this and its a structural problem with his skull.

    http://www.shadowrat.com/rats/doodle2.jpg
    http://www.shadowrat.com/rats/doodle3.jpg
    http://www.shadowrat.com/rats/doodle4.jpg
    http://www.shadowrat.com/rats/doodle5.jpg
    Though it may not be apparent in photos, he also has a shortened body. Its very easy to tell once you get hands on with him. As well as this, he has a shorter tail than a normal rat, and little muscle. He's very 'bean-bag' like to pick up.
    He is chubby, always has been, but he doesn't eat excessively. He doesn't eat as much as I would expect a rat of his size to eat.

    http://www.shadowrat.com/rats/doodle6.jpg
    http://www.shadowrat.com/rats/doodle7.jpg
    http://www.shadowrat.com/rats/doodle8.jpg
    Its not just in the photo; his eyes are actually wonky too, one is at a different angle to the other, and there is no symmetry to him!


    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150578845088064.441028.628043063&type=1&l=cce3695f15

    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150425682873064.417196.628043063&type=1&l=c310481fa9

    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150423898028064.416855.628043063&type=1&l=611f5fc418


    Thought people may like to see his pics. I love him immensely, but would like one day to see another like him, or get some idea of what actually causes his odd features. Fortunately, despite everything, he seems mostly unaffected by any of it, and leads a pretty normal rat life.
     
  2. tagalong

    tagalong PetForums Senior

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    have to agree does sound like a kind of Downs Syndrome -bless him -as long as he's happy then he's just a special little one:)
     
  3. Shadowrat

    Shadowrat PetForums VIP

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    Yeah, he's happy enough, though it was hard to tell at first because he'd always been a lone rat, and his old owner was scared of him.
    When he gets stressed, or something doesn't go his way, he can nip. Its not a bite, it never breaks the skin or draws blood, he's not an aggressive rat. But its like he does it out of frustration. It doesn't hurt.
    I think his previous owner had been nipped, and got scared so never picked him up. She had to grab him with a towel (on my advice, after watching her chase him round for ages) to put him in my carrier, and he squealed the whole time.

    She also fed him a diet consisting primarily of peanuts :/

    So when he first arrived, he'd led a pretty boring life with no companionship and no human contact, and was quite 'flat', for wont of a better word, in his behaviour. It was like he was almost 'depressed' and had just gotten into a routine of not being excited by anything.

    But now he lives with 6 others, and he has definitely come out of his shell. He's still not 'normal' in his behaviour, but he's much brighter than he was when he arrived. And peanuts only as an occasional treat now!
     
  4. thedogsmother

    thedogsmother PetForums VIP

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    Hes adorable, Im a sucker for the 'different' rats who need a little bit of extra help. He reminds me a lot of a syrian hamster in his facial features.
     
  5. B3rnie

    B3rnie Guest

    Oh wow, I have never seen a rat like him, I would also be interested in finding out what caused his appearance.
    He looks like a gorgeous boy, I just wanna give him a squishy hug xx
     
  6. Shadowrat

    Shadowrat PetForums VIP

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    Yeah, people often compare him to a hamster, or a ferret.

    Im such a sucker for the 'different' or 'difficult' rats, too. Maybe because I think no-one else would want them. But give me an old, doddery rat with behavioural or physical problems over a lively, bouncy, well adjusted one any day!
    Of course, I love all of them, but there is something about the ones who have physical or behavioural issues that makes them so rewarding to work with, because if you can get them over those problems, you really feel like you've achieved something.
    And, of course, most people looking to adopt a rat want a healthy, friendly, young bouncy rat. The oldies and the ones with issues get overlooked all the time, so I say send them to me!

    Im particularly fond of biters......I must be mad!
     
  7. emzybabe

    emzybabe PetForums VIP

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    I was going to say the shape of his head looks ferret like to me. Very cute and unusual looking, I have no idea if down syndrome occurs in rodents. But if this is and with many genetic problems I would unfortunately expect him to live a slightly shortened life :(. I am glad he's with company and I'm sure hes in the best hands with you
     
  8. manic rose

    manic rose PetForums VIP

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    aw he is a handsome little chap I think :) sounds like he has found a very good home with you
     
  9. Maltey

    Maltey PetForums VIP

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    O wow, I've never heard about things like that in rats.
    He's definitely got the same sort of features as humans with downs-syndrome.
    And I'm joining the disability club- I love the special needs ones. Even if I buy a stuffed animal, I get the one that has missing fur or a wonky mouth or something!

    He looks like a real sweetie though- how old is he?
     
  10. $hAzZa

    $hAzZa Shan

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    In my eyes he is beautiful :) And I quite like his hamster-ish features :p

    btw I've added you on fb, my name is Shannon ;)
     
  11. Shadowrat

    Shadowrat PetForums VIP

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    Not sure. I think he's about 16 months or so. You never really know with rescues because the owners usually don't know how old their rats are, or just guess when they hand them over!
     
  12. LadyLaveau

    LadyLaveau PetForums Newbie

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    :) Hey Shadowrat!! Doodlebug is a cuuuutie!! Ever thought of creating a Twitter account for him?? Seeeriously!! And he can make lots of friends that way. :)
     
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