Today is a mixed emotions day... I will get the sadness over with first, before discussing all those cute faces.
Mack, Aerik's father, died. He was my oldest rat, and I was expecting it eventually, though he seemed to be "okay" last night and I wasn't expecting it today... He had been slowing down for quite a while, and he had some lung damage from two near fatal bouts of pneumonia. It was getting harder for him to breath and he really looked old. Anyway, I loved Mack and will miss him dearly, but death is a natural part of life, and he was ready for it. He even waited for me to come home and begged me to hold him, which I did as he took his last breaths. He was such a smart, calm, gentle, and loyal rat. He slept on my bed and always came when called. He lived for petting. Aerik got some of these traits from him, and hopefully the grandkids have too. No one will replace him, but at least part of him survives... I took these pictures of Mack last night. Besides looking old, he was as calm and happy as he ever has been.
On to better news...
The pups are four weeks old now. I cleaned their cage today and rearranged it some. Unfortunately, the girls are still in the paranoid stage and have found under the lower shelf is a great place to hide. The first time I reached in, a couple nipped me, but now they just squeak and run around. :-) Dash is still doing her best to be "mom," though it must be becoming tough to nurse the growing pups.
The boys are very calm now. The bravely come out but not in a dart anymore, just a wandering. Since I have let them come out a few times, there's no "thrill" in it for them any more, so I can trust them not to wander far. I haven't seen the girls much today, but they are all sleepy animals and fairly nocturnal at this point.
Of course, they are adorable, now taking on more of an adult look. They are as big and as developed as expected at this age. In a week or two they will most certainly be ready to go to their new homes.