Yesterday my 2-year-old fancy rat Paul passed away. He was black and white and had a bubbly personality, he LOVED food and loved to explore and run around. He had a nice life and was acting like usual. The night before he passed away he was running around, eating and drinking. He went to bed and when I got up for school he came out of his hut to give me a kiss. When I got back from home I was expecting to be greeted by him but when I lifted his hut up his body was curled up in there. My other rat, Kenny was snuggled up with his body.

It hurt badly to see him pass. It made me feel horrible because I wasn't even there I his final hours of life.After we buried him my rat Kenny seems to be fine. He isn't displaying any signs of grief or anything.I don't know why he is taking this so easy. I'm not sure what to do now, all day yesterday I cried till I was emotionally numb. Today I was numb about it too; telling myself has passed and he's happy yet. I have moments when I feel incredibly guilty for his death and not being there. I don't know what I should do to recover from his lost.

If anybody has any suggestions please tell me. It tears me apart since he's gone yet his cage-mate seems to not be affected.

2 Answers 2


Losing a pet is a real grief, that can be like losing a family member and one that not all people will understand. I still mourn my pets from decades ago from time to time. My memories of them are sweet and sad together. As I love them when I remember them and still miss them.

Any loss gets easier over time to deal with as we are able to assimilate it into our reality and with that comes acceptance. It doesn't mean we don't feel sad, but that initial devastation eases.

Firstly, forgive yourself for not being there.You had no way to predict this. Your dear Paul, had his companion with him, so he was not alone. It sounds like Kenny kept him company and gave him comfort.

I have found the best way to deal with stress of losing an animal is to focus on my other pets and then get another pet. It doesn't replace the pet, in terms that each pet is unique, but it gives a new hope and a new love to help fill the hole of loss. Sometimes getting another pet is not possible. For some people getting another pet too soon, is too much for them to bear. It can feel like a betrayal or disrespectful or an emotional overload.

Allow yourself to grieve, to cry and talk to people who understand. Avoid people you know are not animal lovers and specifically people who do not like people keeping rats as pets. The last thing you need are unkind words borne from ignorance. Don't forget to enjoy Kenny.

It is good to be able to post and ask for help.

I hope you feel better soon.

  • 1
    Such kind words, and great advice. I don't know that it could've been put any better. Anyone who has ever lost a pet should read this!
    – Christy B.
    May 23, 2017 at 14:24

My little guy died today. He was 16 months old. It appears he had a massive stroke. It was all over in moments. At 1PM I checked on them and gave them a little banana to snack on. A few hours later I heard a bang from the cage. Blixa was lying on the floor paralysed. I lifted him out and held him, panicking because he was gasping and couldn't move. A minute later he stopped breathing. It was all so sudden, I didn't even have time to think about calling the vet. It breaks my heart because we were really close. He'd bounce around to get my attention and jump right into my arms out of his cage to snuggle with me in bed. He totally trusted me 100%.

I knew from the moment when I got my rats that I would have to also be prepared to say goodbye to them and let them go. From the very start. Rats just don't live that long. That's the paradox with them. They are so intelligent, so affectionate, they just steal your heart away and the bond with them is incredibly close. It's like a creature that smart and loving should live a long life. But actually they have really short lives.

I know about the guilt too. No matter what you always end up feeling guilty! With Blixa I feel bad for panicking. Instead of holding him for the last few seconds I had run to my partner yelling "Blixa's dying! Help me!" But I didn't know he was literally taking his last few breaths. Notwithstanding at least I got to hold him the last two minutes. That bang woke me from my sleep. They often jump down onto the floor but this time I instantly knew something was wrong. Don't let the guilt eat you up. It's just because letting go hurts so bad.

There's no easy answer. A pet rat inevitably involves grief within a year or two. I'm going to miss Blixa terribly and will never forget him.

As for your cagemate, all rats react differently. Just because they don't display the signs we'd associate with grief doesn't mean they don't feel the absence of their best buddies. Maybe it's just like humans, some people withdraw into their grief. Others deal with it by more or less carrying on as if nothing's happened. They hide their grief. Maybe it's not. The important thing to remember is that rats are not people so be careful not to anthropomorphise their behaviour too much.

Either way, your rat will need a new companion as soon as possible. Rats don't need "time to get over it". A rat on its own is not the way nature intended things. They need companionship.

  • @Daniel Ruben I'm sorry for your loss, good input and advice... I know you posted an answer, not a question but I am super curious though; was the banana your rat ate, shortly before passing, at all green?
    – Christy B.
    Jun 4, 2017 at 23:15
  • @Christy B. - No the banana wasn't green. I think green bananas are ok usually. I eat them lots because there is more fibre in them. I'm pretty sure he suffered a catastrophic stroke or seizure. It was just very bad luck. Jun 5, 2017 at 18:43
  • @DanielRuben I am so sorry to hear. Green bananas, when eaten by small animals destroy starch digestion enzymes... Not something that would've killed him that quickly for sure, just if given often, over time. I was just curious
    – Christy B.
    Jun 5, 2017 at 22:53

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