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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-27-2009, 11:29 PM Thread Starter
 
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Advice Needed

I'm thinking of getting a pair of rats some time within the next few months and I've got some questions I'd like cleared up by actual rat owners rather than a pet store employee who may or may not have rat experience.

I would much prefer to buy from a breeder, but I haven't been able to find any in my area (eastern Montana) and I've been told that most breeders that will ship probably are not reputable. I'd be willing to travel to surrounding states if anyone knows of any good breeders near me.

I do have a little experience with rats, but its been about seven years since my first rat, Gilligan, died. He was purchased along with another rat (that he never seemed to get along with) by my 7th grade teacher. He came to live at home with me after about five weeks after being in the classroom.

He was an absolute sweetheart, rode around on my shoulder for hours at a time, liked hiding in my hair, and loved playing with me on my bed. He was solid white, pink eyed, and had a pink tail. I never had any behavioral problems with him in the year and a half that I had him before he died, but I've been told that some un-neutered males can become aggressive.

That said, I'd like to ask a few things -

1. What kind of bedding/liners do you prefer to use for your rats? When I had Gill we used shredded newspaper in the classroom (which I HATED) and some kind of shavings when he came home with me. I can't remember specifically what kind.

2. What sex pair would you recommend for a fairly new rat owner? I really enjoyed Gill's squishy, cuddly personality and I've read that most males are like that, while females are more curious and active. I don't know, however, how they interact as pairs. I know I want a same sex pair - no breeding for me!

3. What kind of food do your rats prefer and how often do you feed? I fed Gilligan, as far as I can remember, a grain/seed/nut (no peanuts) mix with a supplement recommended by my Grandpa (a vet).

4. What do you recommend as far as spaying/neutering? Cost is not an issue for me, just health. I've read conflicting advice on this, so any input you've got one way or the other is very welcome.

5. What cage size do you recommend for a rat pair? dimensions or preferred brand name would be very welcome advice.

6. How long lived have your rats been? I've read that the average lifespan is about 2-3 years. I was totally crushed when Gilly died (in his sleep one night) and I feel especially bad about it now that I know they generally live a bit longer.

7. Anything else you think a first time-ish owner like me should know!

Thanks so much - I know this is a very long post, but I want to be totally informed before I pick out my ratties! I've done a lot of research, but I find that real knowledge comes from experience and I'm hoping someone with experience can help me out.

Thanks again,
Sam
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-28-2009, 12:48 AM
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1. What kind of bedding/liners do you prefer to use for your rats?

You can use yesterdays news which is a recycled paper product, sells in green bags that are either marketed for small animals or cats. Get the cat litter one, it is a big bag for less money! SAME product.

Or, aspen wood shavings, NOT cedar or pine those cause breathing issues.

Or sheets of fleese and litter train your ratty patties. If you have a few you can wash the dirty ones and put in a new one. (accidents happen.)


2. What sex pair would you recommend for a fairly new rat owner? Males and females are both good, males tend to be more lazy and squishy, females tend to be more out going, Both explore and both will cuddle- I suggest when getting a rat look for a calmer female that comes up to you they will be the best of both worlds, cuddly and adventurous. Or males are normally squishy anyway. Males are social too and don't normally become aggressive.

3. What kind of food do your rats prefer and how often do you feed? A lab block diet they are pellets with all their needed food mixed it one block so they can't pick out their favorites and get chubby and imbalanced diet. (Treats are their candy, not their food)

4. What do you recommend as far as spaying/neutering? It can help health, females can get tumors in their girly bits, and boys can get cancer in their boy bits--- but surgery is risky for animals and there is a chance they won't make it.

5. What cage size do you recommend for a rat pair? dimensions or preferred brand name would be very welcome advice.

6. How long lived have your rats been? I had 2 of mine for 2 years and the other 3 for less but i had to rehome them due to crappy circumstances.

7. Anything else you think a first time-ish owner like me should know!

HAVE FUN! Look for a rat that you like their personality more than looking for a look that you like, they are all adoreable, and the personality will be what makes things easy or harder for you

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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-28-2009, 12:58 AM Thread Starter
 
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thanks =)
do you have an preference as far as type of rat? i don't particularly care about appearance - they're all so cute! but i don't know if there are personality differences -similar to dog breeds being different, I mean.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-28-2009, 07:24 PM
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1. What kind of bedding/liners do you prefer to use for your rats?
I use aspen mainly and Yesterdays News as well.PINE AND CEDAR ARE A NO-NO!


2. What sex pair would you recommend for a fairly new rat owner?
It is personal preference I think.I prefer males.They are more cuddly and laid back,while females are go,go,go! I love my girlies,but males are my favorites!


3. What kind of food do your rats prefer and how often do you feed?
Mine get a homemade mix and lab blocks.As well as veggies,fruit,bread,grains,rice,some fish or meat...etc.


4. What do you recommend as far as spaying/neutering?
I don't find it nessicary.In my 10 yrs of rat keeping I NEVER had a spayed or neutered rat.Spaying does reduce the risk of cancer though in females and neutering can stop scent marking in cases.But it is not nessicary,unless you want males and females to live together.


5. What cage size do you recommend for a rat pair? dimensions or preferred brand name would be very welcome advice.
I like Martins Cages.
http://www.martinscages.com



6. How long lived have your rats been?
My oldest rat was almost 3.She had to be euthanized.I currently have a 2+ yr old rat thats going strong.


7. Anything else you think a first time-ish owner like me should know!
Rats need at least an hour a day OUT of their cage and they love toys and things to do.






* Lisa *

* To the world you are ONE person,but to a rat you are the world *


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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-28-2009, 07:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sam a la View Post
thanks =)
do you have an preference as far as type of rat? i don't particularly care about appearance - they're all so cute! but i don't know if there are personality differences -similar to dog breeds being different, I mean.
The types/varities of rats have nothing to do with their personality.Personality depends on the individual rat.I love the rexes and dumbos,but thats just personal favorites.All rats make good pets!


Nope,not like dog breeds.
A dumbo rat can be as loving as a standard ear rat!
It all depends.Some say dumbos are "sweeter"...but I have had dumbos that were not as "sweet" as say one of my hairless rats.Looks are just looks when it comes to pet rats.





* Lisa *

* To the world you are ONE person,but to a rat you are the world *


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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-28-2009, 08:28 PM
 
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While I'm not as experienced as some of the rat owners on here I'll post my opinion.

1. What kind of bedding/liners do you prefer to use for your rats?
I use carefresh, but not the white because it looks dirty really fast.


2. What sex pair would you recommend for a fairly new rat owner?
I also think it is personal preference as to gender. I prefer the girls over the boys. They are curious and they love to climb all over me.


3. What kind of food do your rats prefer and how often do you feed?
Mine get Reggie Rat Mix and a variety of seed bars and wheels and such. They also get treats of peanut butter (the favorite) rasins, crasins, pecans, almonds, etc. I'm not too attached to my rat food by the way.

4. What do you recommend as far as spaying/neutering?
From what I understand it's not necessary unless you want to house opposite sexes without babies as the result.


5. What cage size do you recommend for a rat pair? dimensions or preferred brand name would be very welcome advice.
I have this cage....
http://www.petsmart.com/product/inde...ductId=3057119



6. How long lived have your rats been?
Mine are a year and a half. I did get a baby that only lived about 16 weeks. Poor Aggie.


7. Anything else you think a first time-ish owner like me should know!
Do your research. I did a ton of research before I got my babies and i feel i'm the better rat owner because of it.

Do I have a preference as to the breed? I honestly can't do the hairless but that's my opinion. They're all just as lovable and perfect even if it's just your average Fancy Rat.

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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-29-2009, 01:23 AM Thread Starter
 
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thanks so much for all the feedback! i've found a breeder in my area and i'm hoping to be able to pick out my ratties soon. mom's a bit skeptical about them living with me at home for the summer, but she liked Gilligan well enough, so i'm sure it will all be fine.

RenishaS - i've been looking into the local pet stores in my area and the larger chains (Petsmart, Petco, etc.) and the Reggie Rat Mix looks like one of the only decent brands in stock - has it worked pretty well for you?
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-29-2009, 01:27 AM Thread Starter
 
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Vanilla_Rat - I've seen Martin's Rat Tower in other forums and pictures posted on flickr and it looks great and very reasonably priced. to me it looks plenty big enough for two rats, especially ones that probably won't spend all that much time in it anyway =)
what do you think?
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-29-2009, 05:44 AM
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For two ratties,that would be a great cage!! I love Martins!! They are reasonably priced and they ship pretty fast too.




* Lisa *

* To the world you are ONE person,but to a rat you are the world *


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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-29-2009, 04:17 PM
 
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The reggie rat mix has been great for us. They eat 99% of it and i like to hide nuts it it for them to find as they eat.
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-29-2009, 04:52 PM
 
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1. What kind of bedding/liners do you prefer to use for your rats?
I use shredded paper. It's dust-free, cheap (usually free) and easily available. It really help the bill when you've got 40+ rats!

2. What sex pair would you recommend for a fairly new rat owner?
Either/or. Can depend on different bloodlines. My russian blue line are all hyper while all me siamese are chilled. Dumbo rats are also 'squishier' than standard-eared rats. But it's personal preferance as to what you'd like.

3. What kind of food do your rats prefer and how often do you feed?
Mine are on a lab-block based diet. They get some homemade mix and my younsters get extra protein. Also give them leftover people-food.

4. What do you recommend as far as spaying/neutering?
If you're keeping 2 of the same gender, then don't worry about this.

5. What cage size do you recommend for a rat pair? dimensions or preferred brand name would be very welcome advice.
The smallest cage I'd recommend for a pair (assuming they aren't huge males) is 60cm (l) x 40cm (h) x 35cm (w) with platforms and toys.

6. How long lived have your rats been?
My oldest was almost 3 when she died. My current oldest is 2.5 years.

7. Anything else you think a first time-ish owner like me should know!
There's no such thing as a stupid question. If you are unsure about anything, ASK!!!! And don't let anyone convince you that I single rat will be more attched to it's owner than group-kept rats. I have 7 various colonies and every rat is attached to me

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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-29-2009, 05:30 PM
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1. What kind of bedding/liners do you prefer to use for your rats?
I use fleece liners with litterboxes. In the litterboxes I put either Carefresh or Yesterday's News.

2. What sex pair would you recommend for a fairly new rat owner?
If you loved your old rat riding on your shoulder and giving you lots of love, then I would recommend going with males again. Females are adorable too, but I love the fact that my boys will frequently fall asleep on my lap when I have them out to play.

3. What kind of food do your rats prefer and how often do you feed?
I feed my rats a good lab block (Oxbow Regal Rat) that is available to them at all times, plus a variety of fresh grains, fruits, and veggies daily. I don't recommend seed mixes as they can be high in fat.

4. What do you recommend as far as spaying/neutering?
Anesthetizing animals as small as rats is much riskier than for larger animals. I recently had a healthy 6 month old rat pass away during his neuter surgery. I do not recommend spaying/neutering unless it's really necessary.

5. What cage size do you recommend for a rat pair?
As mentioned, Martin's Cages are quite good and reasonably priced. The Rat Tower would be a great size for two rats.

6. How long lived have your rats been?
My rats have lived to be about 2 years old. I'm not exactly sure how old they all were though. My oldest now is about to have his 2nd birthday and he is still doing great!

7. Anything else you think a first time-ish owner like me should know!
Read up on symptoms of common health problems, like respiratory infections and mycoplasma. Find a qualified exotics vet BEFORE a problem comes up.

Good luck, I know you will love your ratties!

Maureen


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Six new rats
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