Turned on Pandora for the rats today. I think Buddy really likes the music. He stuck his head out more and appeared to be engaged. I visited his cage about every 30 minutes during the morning. During the last visit of the morning he started chattering at me. Before I leave the house I always say goodbye to the rats. When I came back today I went straight to Buddy's cage after saying, "I'm back." He again had his head out and appeared interested. Definitely a social guy.
Early this evening I needed to clean out his cage. His cage sits on the top of the table. I started with a session of trust-training. I used applesauce putting a dab on the end of a spoon. With each bite he came out a little further, but once his body was about one 3rd out of the igloo he stopped advancing. I maneuvered the cage with him in it so that it was half off the table. Then I lifted his igloo and tried to encourage him to climb out of the cage. He was too afraid. I had arranged an area about a foot away from the cage on the table so that he would have another hiding spot. I picked him up and put him in the new spot. He was obviously nervous about being picked up, but then I was nervous about picking him up, so that was totally expected.
Once I finish cleaning the cage he did not go back into it on his own. I am not sure if he just was too scared to come out of his hiding space or he was unable to climb up to the door of his cage.
Everyone gets 30 minutes out of the cage areas to watch TV with me. When Buddy's turn came, I covered him up with a blanket to pick him up. He was still afraid, but I held him very close to me and he did not try to get away once I picked him up. I lightly ran my hands over his sides because he appeared to have a tumor. I did discover a large tumor on his left flank.
We stayed on the sofa for about 20 minutes. He explored the sofa, picking up on everyone else's smells, but would not eat his treat. He finally settled in a corner and I rubbed his head. He closed his eyes for a couple of minutes. When I started to rub his ear he squeaked. It was such a little squeak I could hardly tell that was coming from him. I quit rubbing his head and laid on the sofa row where I was facing him, close but not touching. I just gazed into his eyes and talked to him. Eventually he approached me, sniffing my face and climbing under my arm. This time when I rubbed his ear he did not squeak, but he only tolerated being touched for a few more minutes before he began to squeak again. His squeaks seem to be coming from fear not pain.
To put him back in his cage I convinced him to climb into a soft carrier for transport. He still did not like being carried but I believe the firm surface underneath him made it less threatening.
He received a dose of tumor suppressor along with his dinner tonight. We have a 90% cure rate with the tumor suppressor but we usually catch them earlier. If it doesn't shrink the tumor, it should at least stop it from growing. Because of his difficulty with being touched I could not tell if the tumor was attached or not.
To potentially save his life I'm going to practice what I see the vets do and handle him as much as possible even though he doesn't like it. Normally I would take things a lot more slowly, but between his weight and his tumor I don't think we can afford to do that with Buddy.