I got a call yesterday from a fellow breeder, "I am heading home - my kitchen is on fire! I may need some help with the animals" I am kind of stunned so all I say is , "Okay, call me if you need me and I will be right over" A few minutes pass and I face palm myself as I am calling her back, "Never mind that! I WILL be over as soon as I drop my daughter off at home."
When I arrived there, the firetrucks were gone, the dogs were at the neighbor's home but the ratties were still inside. They still had inspectors inside and wouldn't let us go in to get any outside. When we were finally allowed inside we could see the soot all along the walls and covering the ceiling in the rat room. I kind of just stood there in shock for a few minutes amazed that there was no 'flame' damage except just in the kitchen (Koodos to an observant neighbor!) Soon I realized that these little guys had soot not only in their lungs but all over their bodies and cages.
After we did a quick look over everyone, getting two buckets and got got to work. One bucket was filled with hot water with a little dawn, the other just fresh hot water. Starting with the boys we began washing them off. After just 3 boys the water was BLACK. We kept this up until all the rats (except for new mama's - see note below **) were completely clean. We left them wet not bothering to dry, knowing that it was warm and with grooming the extra clean water off it will help give them a bit more hydration. *What is amazing is we only had maybe 4 stress poops in these buckets after dozens of ratties were cleaned. By the end of the evening I think 10 ratties were lost to the smoke inhalation. I am still a little fearful more may become ill from the smoke.
Okay so why is this titled, The Rat Community? I am getting there...... You see the rat community is a very unique one. It is one where you will experience support and encouragement from someone you have only talked to on fb or through emails from a website. It is a place where people of ALL backgrounds, religions, gender expression/identity, various ages, marital status, or disability can reach out to support an encourage each other, especially during their time of need. The LOVE of rats brings us all together. I cannot believe how in less than two hours she had calls & messages of support and encouragement from others trying to help find homes for these rats. There is still such a need for homes for many of these guys. I know today we are even helping coordinate transport for several later this week 5 hours south. I am hoping there will be more people who can take some of these cuties over the next few days.
Personally, I am not set up to have many more ratties in my home. However I have a empty TCN in my bedroom retreat for quarantine/ emergencies etc. I think this counts as an emergency! I couldn't take a more than 3 separate cages of ratties. So of course I took 4 cages worth. The fourth is her heart rat in his own cage. We got all the ratties settled in our home. (9 total) After giving everyone a cacao chip and lots of kisses we helped our friend and her son get settled in a hotel for the next 2 nights with their pups.
I brought home several bags of hammocks/fleece to wash off. I could only sleep 2 hours, worry about ratties will do that to you. In just a few hours, we will head back to the home to see what else we can do as she has more of an idea of what needs to be cleaned verses thrown away. That means I need to head back to bed for a bit!
Here is alink to an Update
except new mama's
** This is totally a miracle. All of the rats were in cages but these girls were in a tub rack. They were only separated from the fire by 6" of a wall. The opening to the kitchen was right along the edge of the tub rack. When I buried my face in those tubs I only smell rattie - no soot, no smoke. The mamas had stuffed their babies into cups, bowls etc and buried them. They were not just nests but a new arrangement to protect the babies.