Lawrence was either a Black eyed white or a completely faded roan.
Lawrence and his two friends Cicero and Walter came to me from a woman in Norwich. She had texted me a week or two earlier to say she had 3 boys she didn't want anymore. At first, I gave her some options to try elsewhere but told her I'd take them on if she had no luck elsewhere. I stated that as there were 3 of them, I would require a small donation toward their care.
I didn't hear anything back for a while, and decided to text the woman back to see if she'd had any luck rehoming them elsewhere. She said she hadn't, and that she'd only held off texting me back because she couldn't afford to give me a donation. She also stated that the rats had wounds from fighting, and she didn't want me to think she was a bad owner.
I assured her that the wounds wouldn't bother me as I'd seen my fair share of fight wounds. I also told her that if she couldn't afford the donation then it didn't matter; the rats were the priority.
Upon arriving at the house, the woman brought the 3 rats into the living room in a cardboard box.
It was obvious the second I saw them that the wounds were not fight wounds; they were the result of mite infestation.
They were all covered in scabs. The owner seemed shocked at this, and apparently hadn't realised rats needed de-miting from time to time. She claimed she had called the vet about them and he'd told them over the phone that they were fight wounds and to seperate them from one another.
This seems odd to me. In my experience, vets don't like to give advice on medical issues over the phone as if they're wrong, they can be held accountable for any issues arising from the wrong treatment. Also, vets are a business and they like to make money, so they almost always tell people to bring the animal in. In my opinion, she either didn't phone the vet at all, or she did and was told to bring them in but didn't. If she couldn't afford a small donation to me, its unlikely she would have wanted to fork out for vet's bills.
The woman also had a lot of other rats, but I didn't get to see them.
Lawrence also had fairly advanced Bumblefoot, a condition in rats that causes swelling and pain to the soles of their feet. The exact cause is unknown, but theories range from genetics to dirty living conditions. The condition is also notoriously difficult to treat once it is established.
But the owner had no idea what the problem was and had attributed it to fighting.
I told her the correct treatment to use for future mite issues and left with the three sorry looking boys.
Below, you can see the pics I took of the boys when I got them home. I gave them a bath and treated their mites straight away:
Lawrence's mites were so bad that he had actually become anemic and his teeth had gone from a healthy orange to white.
Within only 2 days, the boys were all looking much better. Below is a picture of them after only 48 hours on the correct treatment:
In the second picture, you can just see Lawrence's top teeth and how pale they are. A healthy rat should have bright orange incisors.
Here is a picture of Lawrence's bumblefoot:
All three rats made great progress here.
Unfortunately, as Lawrence was the worst upon his arrival, he failed to make as much progress as I'd hoped. I began treating his bumblefoot as soon as he arrived, as well as giving him iron supplements to help his anemia. For a week or so, he looked ok, but then one day I went to see him and found his left rear leg horribly swollen.
My initial assumption was that he'd caught it in something and strained or broken it. Rats fairly commonly do this, and they tend to heal on their own (there is little a vet can do other than offer pain killers and just wait for the injury to heal).
I treated him with pain relief and anti-inflammatories for a few days, but there was no progress in healing, which in a normal rat would begin to occur by then.
I took him to the vet and it was there that the true cause of his injury was clear. Upon manipulating the limb, the vet managed to squeeze out pus from the site of Lawrence's bumblefoot. What had happened was that he'd gotten infection in there, and it had travelled up his leg. His whole limb was infected.
This is a risk with bumblefoot that is left untreated, though it normally occurs after many months of non-treatment and tends to be the worst case scenario with the condition.
The vet said he did not reccomend amputation of the limb due to Lawrence's anemia and poor healing ability as a result. He didn't think the surgery wound would heal, or Lawrence may even die on the table.
We opted for antibiotics, and daily baths in salt water solution, as well as trying to squeeze out as much infection as possible.
I stuck to this rigidly and though there was a tiny bit of healing and the infection was stopped from travelling further, there didn't seem to be much improvement.
Lawrence's was given two weeks on baytril, then after that proved fairly ineffective, we switched to Synulox.
He seemed to do better on this medication, and so went on to be on it for 6 weeks. After around 4 weeks on it, his leg was looking wonderful compared to how it had been. The wounds had begun to heal well and he was actually using his leg once more, after weeks of dragging it or holding it up
The vet and I began to get hopeful for his chances of a full recovery, very rare with bumblefoot this severe.
Unfortunately, one day just as his treatment had finished, I went out to find him dead in his igloo with the other rats. He'd apparently died in his sleep, and looked peaceful, but it was heartbreaking to find this.
He'd made such progress since he arrived and I really had begun to think he was over the worst. He had remained anaemic since he arrived, and that never really got much better, so he likely had more severe issues than just his bumblefoot, but all likely caused by his previous lack of care.
I am extremely saddened by this case. There was no excuse for these rats to be left to get into this condition. The ower had a laptop open on the table when I went round; she had complete access to all the info on rats that she could need. A quick search would have told her what was wrong and how to treat it. There is no excuse for anyone with internet access not to educate themselves.
So while people like this will often plead ignorance, I don't accept that as an excuse when there is ample opportunity to educate yourself. She also owned many other rats, 3 dogs, several reptiles and at least one cat. I refuse to believe she didn't have the money to give me a donation; I just think she didn't care enough for her rats.
Im always willing to forgive when people genuinely have no way of knowing better, but when someone has all the ratty knowlege they need sitting on a laptop not 2 feet away and doesn't bother to research, I find that as almost as bad as deliberate cruelty.
Why Lawrence? Lawrence was named after Dr. Lawrence Gordon from the SAW movies.