Ratatouille died last night.
She'd been out on the sofa with me at 7, crawling around, using my leg to prop herself up so she didn't roll over as she cleaned herself, and helping herself to the little bit of ice cream left in the bowl. I put her away when I went to do the washing up and when I came back to the cage at around 8, she was having a fit so violent that it was flipping her over lengthways around the cage. The little rats were right with her the whole time, cleaning her and trying to get to her past her jerking limbs. They were so protective of her that I now have a deep bite mark on my thumb from where Wogan didn't want me to take her body away.
Ratatouille was my friendliest rat, always approachable and there was never any fear in her eyes. She was my intrepid explorer who'd climb anything that stayed still long enough - my leg, the sofa, the curtains, the half dead plant (over 2m high) in the corner of the room....
When Ararat got sick, and died, Ratatouille missed her so badly, she'd be running around the cage, not knowing what to do with herself. So we got Wogan and Wally to keep her company. These little fireballs of mouse-sized baby rat weren't the most welcome addition to her cage but once the fighting died down, Ratatouille had a constant shadow called Wogan and an attentive groomer called Wally!
As Ratatouille's health got worse and worse, Wogan and Wally seemed to be working shifts staying by her side, grooming the bits she couldn't manage herself, bringing her food and just generally being there. I love the way they've looked after her. They're going to miss her.