The remaining rats are doing better. I'm starting to get 'wher brekfiss' interspersed with 'wher bruvver'. I'm sure they would all love having Flathead back, but if he doesn't arrive fast enough to eat his own breakfast, that is his own problem. Priorities, man.

Grue, as predicted, took it especially hard. Grue is the omega rat, to the point where he won't even take food off my fingers. Forks are fine, but if it's on your hand, it's yours. He figures that whoever you are, you probably outrank him, and he shouldn't touch your food unless he wants to get nommed right in the middle of his hard little head. His only ambition in life is to be someone's big dopey BES FREN, and his BES FREN rat is the one who went away and didn't come back. Rats can learn anything you'd expect out of a 1/100 scale Labrador retriever, and I know for a fact that dogs get sad and anxious when their friends go missing, so it's no surprise that Grue sort of decompensated for a day or two.

I spent a couple of nights lying around with my arm in their cage, because Grue was confused and lonely and feeping and wanted to sleep on my hand.

Grue does not fit on my hand. Grue is a half-kilo sewer rat the length of my forearm. I've met smaller chihuahuas. Moreover, like sleeping cats, sleeping rats dissolve their bones for convenience. Every time he dozed off, he became a sort of fuzzy Grue-colored ball of oobleck and tried to ooze off my palm in a random direction.

I don't fancy introducing myself to the new vet lady with something so stupid as 'my rat forgot about gravity and gave himself a concussion', so I spent a few hours saving Grue from his own folly. Eventually I got tired of that, picked the little fucker up, and moved him onto the bed with me. It took a while, but I finally convinced him that many very excellent sleeps could be had in Mommy's nest, which is much bigger and harder to fall off of, even if you do phase change to a liquid when you nap.

The next step is to make a small rat-shaped bolster and stuff it with bedding that still smells like the missing critter, so I can clean the rest of their house out without upsetting them so much. It's in dire need of a scouring with dish soap, not to mention new boxes. I try not to unduly stress sick rats in hospice, so rather than scrubbing the cage properly, I tend to just scoop out the old bedding and replace it with new for a while. Changing everything at once sends them into a tizzy, so I generally give them something familiar to cuddle with while they adjust.