I have a bit of a morbid question for you, but it’s regarding an issue I never see mentioned on rat info websites, so I do hope you can help me. I was wondering what you should do when a pet rat dies: whether you should allow the cage mates some time alone with the body, or whether it should be removed straight away. When my first pet died, she was in my arms and out of the cage. I didn’t know what to do for best so packed her away immediately. However, I got the impression that her cage mate just didn’t know what had gone on and was a bit frantic when her sister disappeared. I feel as though I should have allowed her to see the body, but I’m not sure if this would cause distress. What do YOU do in this situation?
This is actually a REALLY good question. Thank you so much for bringing it up!! I think it is important. In my experience, rats cope a lot better when they can see the body. I’ve had several sets of siblings. With two sets (Pitter & Patter and Lukass & Rizzo), I had to put one of the rats to sleep and I didn’t put the body back in the cage. It seemed as if the remaining sibling was looking around the cage for its mate. Eventually, he or she would come to terms with the fact that the mate wasn’t going to come back, but it was kind of a long process. On the other hand, I had another rat die in the cage unexpectedly. It seemed to me that when Piglet died, Roxy (her cagemate) understood what had happened.
Based on these experiences, I think it’s better if cagemates can see the deceased rat’s body, so they understand that their friend has passed away. If I were to take a rat to get euthanized again, I would put the body back in the cage so the other cagemates could examine it. It might be difficult for me, but I think it would really help the surviving rat(s). Thanks for asking this. It is a little morbid, but it’s a fact of life.