Hoffman was an agouti Berkshire.
Hoffman came to me with Barney and Mandylor
All three rats came from the house of a back yard breeder who claimed a female had escaped into the boy's cage and left her with a huge number of rats. Hoffman had been living in a Freddy cage along with 32 other rats. A freddy is suitable for 2-3 rats, so that gives you some idea of the extreme overcrowding he was living in.
All the rats had wounds of some kind from fighting due to the conditions, and food was simply thrown in with them each day. In total, 64 rats were removed from those premises, and I only had space to take 3. The others were distrubuted amongst rat rescues up and down the country.
When Hoffman arrived, I was told he was 9 months old, but he looked like a rat in his second year. His coat was awful, he was thin and had muscle wastage, and was covered in scabs.
But the most alarming thing about him was that he was severely territorial. As soon as he went into the shed and smelt the other boys, he began stamping around his cage, scent marking and working himself into a complete state of stress. He seemed unable to relax while there were other rats in the room. I housed him alone, and even from his holding cage he was hissing and bristling at the other rats in their cages.
I tried gentle intros with him to my other boys, hoping his aggression was restricted to his cage, but he was unable to get along with other rats. If I introduced him to the whole group, he was absolutely terrified and would attack out of fear. If I introduced him to just one or two gentle, mellow rats, he would try and dominate them by attacking. He ripped holes in several of my older boys before I made the decision to stop introductions.
Hoffman had severe behavioural issues due to the conditions he'd come from. Clearly, he'd spent so much of his life in such cramped conditions, having to fight for everything he had, that he couldn't adjust to the idea that he now had his own space and food; he still felt he had to protect everything from any other rats.
With people, Hoffman was calmer but still fiercely territorial. He would claim my lap as his obsessively, and on one occasion, ran toward my arm and bit me. He was simply a bag of hormones and was completely controlled by these.
I eventually made the decision to have Hoffman castrated. Although he now had space and as much food as he wanted, he was still spending his every waking moment scent marking, threatening the other rats through the bars and basically living a life of stress. I hoped castration would calm him down and allow him to actually enjoy life, as well as make him put on weight, as he was very thin and seemed too wound up to bother with food much.
Hoffman's operation went well, though he did have to wear a body cast for a few days after his operation as he would repeatedly attempt to pull his skin glue off. But after 2 weeks, I introduced him to the girls, thinking that females would prove less intimidating to him than boys. I was right, and he settled in the same day. He lived happily with the girls, and his condition improved tenfold. His coat became glossy, he put on weight, and he actually began to look like a 9 month old rat rather than a geriatric.
His attitude with people also greatly improved. He was docile and happy to chill out on a lap. He was one of my best success stories, and turned into one of the cuddliest, squishiest and most trust-worthy rats I've had. I could let anyone handle him without any concerns for his temperament; he was bomb proof in the end.
It is tragic to think where he came from. The woman responsible for the horrendous conditions he was living in claimed to 'love' her rats, and didn't see what she was doing wrong. Im only sad I couldn't take more of those rats on, as apparently they all had similar behavioural problems.
Hoffman lived to a good age, and I found him dead in his cage one night after no apparent illness. It was the same night I found Manhattan dead , right beside him. While her death was expected due to her respiratory issues, Hoffman had been the picture of health.
I do sometimes wonder if Manhattan's death had a bigger impact on Hoffman than I thought, as they were both very close. Perhaps when she died, he didn't want to carry on? I don't tend to go for 'gooey' explanations for what rats do as I often feel it is the result of anthropomorphism, but in this case, who knows.
He was a lovely boy, and while he death was sad, I took comfort in knowing that I gave him a good, long life, a far cry from what he knew before coming here.
Why Hoffman? Im a huge fan of the SAW franchise, Hoffman being my favourite character.