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African Pouched RatKali aged 6 weeks
Kali's vital statistics
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Species: African Pouched Rat (Cricetomys gambianus)



30 September

It has been increasingly difficult to get Kali to come out of her house for her playtime in the evenings. Over the past few weeks she has become more and more reluctant to come forward to be picked up. Last night she wouldn’t come out at all. For the first time in many months I had to take the levels out of her house so I could get to her. Even then she wouldn’t let me pick her up. She climbed out of her house and hid under the sofa for about 40 minutes. I didn’t try and drag her out I just let her come out of her own accord. Eventually she did come out and I was able to pick her up and check that she was OK. She seemed fine and once I put her down again she started to explore and look for her treats as usual. She didn’t spend very long exploring and was very happy to get back into her house.

I can think of a couple of things which may have upset her. Firstly we’ve got a bit of a mouse problem at the moment. They have found their way into the house and are making nocturnal raids on Kali’s house and pinching her food. I think we’re getting on top of the mice generally and I’ve stopped them getting into Kali’s room so they should not trouble her again. The other thing which may have upset her is that the last couple of times I’ve cleaned her out she’s been in the room with me and has been ‘helping’. She digs through her chopped cardboard litter picking up all the food she’s stored as I’m trying to scoop it into the bin bag. I though she was enjoying all the activity but perhaps she’s very upset to see her nest being cleaned away. I had to have her in the room with me when I was cleaning her out because when I shut her in the hall by herself she started to destroy the carpet. I’ll confine her in her travel tank next weekend and see if she’s more relaxed like that.

A few weeks ago she had some new toys but she hasn’t really taken to them. I got her a giant wheel – the biggest I could find. It still isn’t big enough for her and she only sticks her head in it. I also got her a treat ball. I filled it with her parrot mix and hoped she’d roll it about to get the food to spill out but she didn’t think much of that idea and she just ignores it.

I still haven’t replaced her wire but since I put a big branch in her house she’s stopped gnawing the bars. I’ll still replace the wire but it is less urgent now.

4 September

The lamp in Kali's room is now on a timer and it comes on automatically during the night between 2:00 am and 4:00 am. Having the light on during these times really seems to stop Kali gnawing the mesh and keeping us awake. I've also been offered some smaller but equally strong mesh so I'll be able to replace the mesh I've used in kali's house and it will make it harder for her to get a grip on the mesh with her teeth.

We've been away for a few days with Kali. We rented a holiday cottage on the North Yorkshire Moors and while we were there we took the opportunity to visit another pouched rat owner who has two rats, a male and a female, who lives nearby. The pair are a few months younger than Kali and not yet full grown. We saw them during the day so they were very sleepy and not at all active but they were very sweet curled up together and they let me stroke them. They started talking while we were their and they made quite a different sound to Kali. Their squeeks were much more 'tuneful' and bird like. They were leaner than Kali, partly because they are younger but also because I fear that Kali is a bit overweight! Kali looked huge compaired to them.

Kali wasn't too pleased with being woken up to go visiting and was a bit grumpy that evening but generally she travelled well and settled into her holiday house quickly. She was more relaxed about being shut up in her tank for this trip than she was when we took her on her first holiday earlier in the year. Pouched rats are smart enough to remember events like this so it wasn't too much of a shock for her. She was more unsettled on the way home and while she was gnawing the mesh covering her tank I touched her nose. This made her very cross and she scolded me very loudly which was very amusing.

I didn't give her an evening run the first day we were back but she came out for her usual playtime the following night. She was a bit hesitant at first when I tried to pick her up but as soon as she realised it was a normal playtime and not another trip she was off playing as normal.

When I pick her up now she leans into my body while I'm cradeling her and I give her a good stroke and tickle all up and down her back and between her ears. I'm still not sure if she really likes it but she doesn't protest.

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