I bought a new female rat last week from a pet store. I've owned a rat in the past and really enjoyed her and just thought it was time for another one.
I brought the rat home, who is now affectionately named "Mama", and set her up in my bedroom. She wasn't particularly fond of me or being handled at all (urinating and defecating everywhere and making a hissing noise at me) and I just assumed she was nervous because of the change in environment. Not a big deal. I just left her alone.
I loaded her food and water up because I was going to visit family for less than two days for Christmas. I made sure everything was full and went on my way Saturday morning and came home on Sunday night, Christmas day, to find her water completely empty. (No, it wasn't leaking, promise)
I filled it back up and peaked at her hiding in her tube and to my utter disbelief she had babies squirming beneath her!! I was in shock!! I do not know when she had them exactly. I will just have to assume Christmas day they were born.
I am more than fully capable of caring for a rat. But I was not prepared to care for nine more!
^That's Mama with babies when I discovered her^
^This is what Mama and babies live in, babies are in the igloo^
^ Nine "pinkies" were counted ^
I don't know what I should do to care for them or much of anything really. I've been looking up things online and trying my best but I would really appreciate any first hand advice I could get from anyone on here about what to do now.
My questions and concerns consist of:
Will Mama eat any of her young if I stress her out? Because she doesn't really like me yet. I haven't bonded with her. She doesn't bite, just sort of "huffs" at me and avoids my holding her.
Should Mama be on a special diet? When do babies start eating food? Should I separate them at 4 or 5 weeks? Should I hold them often? Should I leave them alone? What's the best bedding? I'm using CareFresh. How can I sex them correctly? Do they need special food after they stop weening?
Any other advice is more than appreciated! Thank you!