Dirty Harry was a siamese.
Harry was one of 8 rats I took in from a girl who was moving and could not take them with her. They were all very well cared for, they just needed somewhere else to go.
For this group, I kept Riker, Geordi, Dakota, Dirty Harry and El Niño.
The other three went to Sidney's Safe House rat rescue in Ipswich, run by a friend of mine.
When this group of rats came in, Harry had been living with the three babies that went to Sidney's safe house, on account of him having apparently being a little bit of a bully with the older rats. But as the babies were going off somewhere else, Harry had to learn to live with Riker and his lot.
At first, all seemed well. He went into the group fine, and there was no fighting, he even slept in a pile with them all, and certainly didn't seem like a troublesome rat.
However, as days went on, I began to notice Riker wasn't behaving like his normal self. He was a bit subdued, and didn't seem to be eating like he normally would. There was nothing specific about him that was wrong, it was just a general feeling I had. He'd started to spend a lot of time up on the high shelf, so, testing a theory, I picked him up one day and popped him onto the cage floor. At this, Dirty Harry, instantly chased him back up to the top.
It became clear that Riker was being bullied. While he was not being physically hurt, he was being herded off food and generally intimidated. This is as serious a problem sometimes as rats that physically fight, though it can be a lot harder to recognise.
I removed Dirty Harry, which was a bit sad as he got on so well with everyone else and it just seemed to be Riker he disiked. But within a day of Harry going, Riker was back to his old, bouncy, happy self. Amd wandering freely about the cage rather than remaining huddled on the shelf.
But it left me wondering what to do with Harry.
While he clearly wasn't a vicious rat, and I had no concerns that he would physically hurt another rat in any serious way, he did have bullying tendencies which meant he had to go into a group of rats that could stand up for themselves. But I didn't want to put him in with anyone too mean as, for all his bravado, Harry was quite an anxious rat really and I didn't want him becoming the victim instead.
My first thought was my old boys group. This was a small group of old rats, all of whom were, or should have been, past the age of adolescent posturing, and didn't tend to take any rubbish from youngsters. But at the same time, they were a quiet group, not a lot going on and not too many of them to get used to.
Harry seemed to be doing ok in this group for a few days. Chase was arguably his biggest issue, which I expected. Chase was the alpha, and despite being very old and infirm, he still had a lot of fight in him if needed.
But while it was simply posturing and exhibitionism, and Harry was happily eating in that group, I left them be.
One day shortly after, I noticed Harry was having issues walking, he seemed to be a bit wobbly. I pulled him out, and noticed he had many tiny nips all up his forearm and shoulder. They were each small, but there were many so they'd formed a large wound. And I knew instantly this was Chase's doing.
As I have written about on his page, and Mortemain's, these two rats inflicted horrible, unusual abscesses on any other rat that they bit. This hadn't been a problem for a long time, though, since Chase was happily settled in a group and had no need to fight or nip other rats, so nothing had occured for many months.
But it was obvious that he'd had a go at Harry, and now Harry had this same awful abscess problem. I washed and disinfected his wounds and gave him pain relief, hoping the wound would show some signs of healing in a few days. Unfortunately, it did not. In fact, it worsened, spreading and, just like Chase and Mortemain's abscesses, destroying tissue as it went.
Harry was taken to the vet and given antibiotics and anti-inflammatories/pain relief, and I was given a bill of £70 for it.
It was a long process of bathing, removing dead tissue, and keeping him ultra clean but after a week or so, we began to see improvement, and within 3 weeks, the wost had healed.
Harry had a scar for life on his shoulder and down his forearm. I also made the decision to put him in a different group; Tommy's group.
This group was my fallback option when I couldn 't get rats to settle anywhere else, because every single rat in it was a nice, gentle, fair rat and I knew that they would accept any other rat I choose to give them.
It was supposed to be temporary until I could work out something else for Harry, but he settled in so well that he remained there.
Harry turned into a nice little rat who caused no more issues from then on, showing just how important it is to match rats to the right cage mates.
Harry lived a good, long life and passed away from what I suspect was heart failure.
Why Dirty Harry? After the Gorillaz song of the same name.