About 4 months ago I bought two young-ish female rats, Star and Blaze. The store said they were the same litter, but their coloring and size as they grew leads me to believe that may not have been the case.
Blaze has always wanted to crawl rather than just be held, but licks people and I reward her with unsalted sunflower seeds (her favorite) and has never used her teeth on anyone. Star however, while most of her time with me had been sweet despite the lack of kisses, had always been very cuddly; but she bit someone's ear while they were cuddling her against their neck earlier this month. I was shocked because it wasn't an aggressive "I'm scared bite", but she rather just put her teeth on him and slowly clamped down and wouldn't let go until I pried her mouth open at the jaw. Moments before the incident, she was making a chickering noise often associated with happiness and comfort at her surroundings.
Blaze and Star had lived in harmony for the past 4 months for the most part, other than wrestling that didn't seem to be violent other than a few squeaks. I never even seen missing fur on her like I've seen on one rat that was a bit "bullied," when I had five rats at once several years ago.
At 7am this morning all seemed fine, both just waking up and being seemingly energetic and healthy... but when I came back from work at 5:30pm, Star was dead and Blaze was eating her! I know disposing of a body by eating it is completely normal for rats and other small mammals as it's the only way they know how to get rid of the body, regardless of how traumatizing for me it was to witness.
One of my concerns is that many times their wrestling was not long after I fed them (a bowl full every other day) and Blaze was definitely bigger in general either because of them being a different litter like I suspect or her dominance over the cage and the food. I'm worried that Blaze may have killed her either over a food scuffle, by accident or if Star passed for some unrelated reason. With knowing now that she can eat her cage sister, while I don't want her to be lonely, I'm concerned of her taking to a new companion AND that new Rat's safety.
It's hard for me to look at/handle Blaze now, knowing that the insides of her sister are currently in her belly despite how affectionate she's been to me and others in the past... And while I want to leave her be to process the death and for me to get over what I saw, I know rats don't do well alone, especially if they have never been alone before. I don't want to harm Blaze's psyche by leaving her alone in her cage, but I'm scared to witness what I saw earlier again if I get her a new mate.
Does anyone have any advice on:
- How Star may have died suddenly after having no apparent health issues hours earlier?
- Is the wrestling I saw normal, or should I have been concerned at the difference in size and the squeaking?
- If I should get Blaze a new companion, and how long should I wait if I wait at all?
I'd really appreciate any help I can get with this because, despite what happened and how hesitant I am with her right now, I love Blaze and I want to do what's right for her as well as myself. Thanks in advance!