Rat Growth – Newborn to One Week Old

This post will track the growth Blink and Otter’s 13 babies during their first week (you can read about their second week here). They were born on the 9th of February, one day after their due date, after an uneventful pregnancy. All were born alive and of similar size and weight, although one of the berkshires is very slightly smaller than the others.

The babies were born during the day on the 9th of February. Here they are just a few hours old (sorry for the gross bedding). They are completely colourless and hairless except for the tiniest whiskers. Their ears are just flaps of skin stuck down to their heads and their paws are webbed nubs. They can squeak quite loudly and do so wherever their mother comes to feed them.

At two days old some of the babies already have pigment. The this stage it looks like there are 4 black hoods, 5 black berkshire, and 4 that could be mink as they haven’t developed any colouring. This is a happy surprise as, while I knew the mother was carrying mink, I didn’t think the father was. Assuming the lighter babies are mink, both parents must be dilute carriers (aaMm).

At three days old the babies have darkened up a bit more and it’s looking like the little one is also a black berkshire, not a dilute like I first thought, it just took a little while for the pigment to come in. The babies have limited movement though they can pull themselves along and roll over if they get flipped onto their backs. Blink has moved them from her nest in the corner to the rody house.

Apart from a bit of weight gain, there wasn’t much change between the day 3 babies and the day 4 ones. They are still hairless, blind, and deaf. The skin on their undersides is slightly translucent and you can see the milk inside them after they have had a feed. Blink leaves them uncovered on the plastic base of the igloo and uses the bedding to stuff the entrance hole, but not to cover the babies.

The black babies have darkened up lots over the last 24 hours but it’s still impossible to tell what colour the lighter ones are going to be. Their whiskers have grown longer and then have a very very fine coat of tiny hairs. Their weight has also more than doubled – from about 3 grams when they were a day old to more than 7 grams for the chubbiest ones. The little one black berkshire seems to be about a day behind the others in terms of growth and is still quite a lot paler and has just hit 6 grams.

The babies seem a lot more mobile today. They get handled two or three times per day (for less than 5 minutes) and sometimes they don’t even wake up. Today though, a couple of the bigger ones pulled themselves  around on their tummies quite speedily and I had to to scoop one up in a hurry as it was about to scoot off the bed! Their mother is eating A LOT, more than my other 3 girls combined, and the babies are growing well.

The babies are a week old. They now have a very fine velvety coat and are all quite mobile. They squeak a lot whenever Blink goes to feed them and sound a little bit like baby birds. Blink seems to be keeping up with feeding a big litter well and is still slightly heavier then her pre-pregnancy weight.