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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-27-2012, 07:37 AM Thread Starter
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Getting Ratties again after 10 years :)

Hey everyone! My name is Tom and i'm a 21 year old guy from South West of England

I've recently decided to get ratties again as i had 2 when i was like ten years old and used to love them to bits! Unfortunately whilst my memory of all the fun times i used to have with my ratties has remained, my memory of all the tips and tricks of rat ownership and keeping the little critters happy and in good health hasn't stuck around!

I'm lucky as i was enquiring in a local pet store about rats and the owner happened to have an old professional rat cage worth around £180 at home that she no longer uses and was willing to sell me for £40! I do love a bargain. It's around 4ft(h) x 2.5ft(d) x 3ft(w) i think which will be the equivalent of a mansion for my new furry friends!

I've spend plenty of time online looking into all things rat related but would love any advice or tips from some seasoned rattie owners/parents!

I've been struggling to find a place to buy rats locally to me but have found a local breeder and i'm going to visit him tomorrow and have a look for my perfect rattie companions. I had originally decided on females due to them generally not urine marking like males, however he only has 2 females available and about 12 males so i'm not sure as i really would like to have a chance to see how different rats are with me and if i fall in love with any, so i may very well get 2 (or 3!) males instead. Any Advice?

Thanks very much for your feedback and i look forward to getting to know you all and your rattie companions and introducing you to mine once i get them home to their new mansion.
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-27-2012, 08:33 AM
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Welcome aboard Tom!

I can't help it, I'm already both charmed by your post description and tickled for you that you're getting back into rats.

You paid only 40?? Oh my, you got a deal that most rat owners would sell their kidney for. That is a serious rat mansion from the dimensions and could easily house up to 12 or so rats if they all get along well and you set up their space well. Beware, they're like potato crisps in that you can't stop at one. Colonies tend to grow to fit the space! "Gotta Get More Rats" is a real scientifically quantified disorder.

My first question is, what is the bar spacing? In the US, it would need to be 1/2 inch to be suitable for babies and females as they can squeeze their heads thru tiny places. 1 inch spacing is suitable for only the biggest males. This being a professional cage, I'm assuming it'll be close to 1/2 inch, but always good to double check.

Bless you all to pieces for doing your research /before/ bringing your rats home. So many people don't do that. I'm a compulsive researcher so I too was a research before I commit person. I didn't appreciate how rare that was until I was active in the hobby for a while and saw how many people just won't do it.

I started out with a colony of six males, and now I have a mixed colony of five females and three males-long story for later. I've only had female for about three months and males for 3 years.

In my honest opinion? Scent/marking wise, the difference is academic. They both pee to high heaven. Males are a wee bit stronger smelling, but not as much as you'd think. Females smell somewhat like grape soda. Males smell like warm tortilla chips. Males will secrete an orange stain on their shoulders called buck grease. It can be a more intense tortilla chip smell and be quite musky. Minimal bathing, good diet, and feeding them a drop of olive oil weekly and it'll cut way down on that.

If you have two rats in a cage built for 12, as long as you clean the cage once a week, you won't have much of a scent issue.

Rats don't smell nearly as pungent as other rodents.

The bigger differences between males and females is personality. Females are usually busier, sillier, and tend to chew more because they like nest building. Girls are less likely to want to hang out in your lap or like to be held. They gotta go go go! They are a bit more receptive to trick training because of it.

Males, as they age, turn into lumbering, lazy squishes. They're couch potatoes.

Health wise, females are much more prone to re-occuring mammary tumors that have to be surgically removed. My girls are mostly older girls, and in my 3 months, I've removed 3 mammary tumors from two girls. Spaying them while they are young will drop the occurrence of mammary tumors /way/ down. In the US, the price of a spay can range from $90 to $300 depending on how badly the vet wants to gouge the customer, and it is a very invasive surgery with long recovery time. The cost of a mammary tumor removal is $60-200 and the risk of repeated surgeries.

If you've got a reputable breeder with a good line that has low or no occurrence of tumors, then not spaying might be a good gamble.


Males, if poorly bred, can be prone to hormonal aggression that pops up around 6 months and peaks at about a year. At the first signs of it, if you get them neutered, that will usually nip that in the bud. Neuters run about $30-150, and are much less invasive with minimal recovery time. Plus, two weeks after a neuter, they can be housed safely with girls.

Males are also more prone to gradual paralysis of their hind legs as they age, a condition called hind end degeneration or HED.

As for tips....wow. That's a wide open request. LOL

You've got the right cage, you're already doing the research to find the right rats /and/ willing to wait to get them.

My first tip, would be to research all veterinarians within driving distance to you. Find out who specializes in rats, or has had a lot of experience with them. Price check them and reputation check them.

I started by cold calling vets in my area, and even if they had no rat experience, I'd ask them who they'd recommend. If they say yes, ask them what kind of price range they'd charge to spay or neuter a rat and see what they say. They are often reluctant to quote price over the phone, but just stress that you're not looking for exacts, you're looking at a typical price range just to research and get a feel for what's typical.

The biggest drawback for rats is that ounce for ounce, they're unfortunately one of the less healthy critters you can have. This is because of their long history in the medical testing world, and the ease and speed of unscrupulous breeding. So a good, reasonably priced vet is worth his or her weight in gold.

Research what common rat ailments are common in your area. Being in the United Kingdom, you have a lot of good breeders within a day's driving distance. The US being as spaced out as it is, makes finding good ones much more of a problem.

Become active on UK pet forums. It won't take long for you to figure out who really knows what they are talking about locally and can give you some helpful insight unique to the veterinarians and rats where you are.

In the meantime, it's awesome you're here. We'll be happy to offer you specific tips as you go along, but there's so much it might be easier to ask specific question all along.

Oh, what I can do is this...

With all of my personal research, I created several blog pages designed specifically to answer common new rat owner questions (the questions I asked myself).

Here's the direct links to them, though you can also get to them by clicking on my name and going to my profile page:

Where to Get Your Rat: http://www.paw-talk.net/forums/blog.php?b=239&goto=prev
Selecting a Rat for You: http://www.paw-talk.net/forums/blog....3936&goto=prev
Expected Cost of Keeping A Rat: http://www.paw-talk.net/forums/blog.php?b=3936
Bringing Home Baby: http://www.paw-talk.net/forums/blog.php?b=3941
Free Range and Rat Proofing Your House: http://www.paw-talk.net/forums/blog....3936&goto=next
Diet:

(based on what's available and what to avoid in the US-some of which will apply to you): http://www.pxrats.com/ratfood.html

Posted diets in the UK:

Brandywine Rats Diet Page: http://www.rattycorner.com/ (you may need to click on 'care' and then 'feeding)
Milliways Rat Diet: http://milliwaysrattery.co.uk/ratcare.html
The Shunamite Diet: http://www.shunamiterats.co.uk/shunamite.shtml


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Last edited by Storyseeker; 09-27-2012 at 08:55 AM.
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-27-2012, 11:58 AM
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Along the lines of Storyseeker's great links, here is a wonderful rat forum based out of the UK: Fancy Rats Forum. You should be able to get a ton of local help and ideas from that site, too!


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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-27-2012, 07:18 PM
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Greetings to you Tom and Welcome!!

I too am tickled pink by your post and I get a very good feeling that you are a kind and thoughtful person when it comes to wanting to be a good parent to new ratties, and bless you for doing research and trying to re-learn all the information that goes into caring for these most lovely of small creatures.



Storyseeker is a valuable and wonderful source of information as you can see by the super post she already left you. Breyer, who has also welcomed you, is also amazing with her tips and advice, and as I am sure you know by now, ratties are very complex and there is always something new to learn about them!



I have never had girl rats personally so I don't have any actual advice to give you on them, but I have always had boy rats and as Story told you, they are such cuddly squish boys that love to be lazy, get kisses and scritches and generally soak up affection like sponges.



I LOVE boy ratties! My husband and I have two brother rats, Achilles and Maximus, who are about 7 months old and we love them to bits. We are partial to boys, BUT, girls or boys, whichever you decide on, I am sure you will be in for such a wonderful experience.



I am sure I speak for the others when I say it is great to have you here on the forum and I hope you decide to stay a regular member! It is a friendly and very helpful place to come to with any and all questions about your upcoming adopting of your new furry kids. Very excited for you and CHEERS for getting such a large and roomy house for your new kids! I love that. The bigger the ratty house, the happier they will be. Marvelous!



Hope to talk to you again soon!

Vlad

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You will always be with me, my sweet boys. I will see you at the Bridge.

Last edited by Vladina; 09-27-2012 at 07:21 PM.
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-28-2012, 04:28 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies everyone! Lots of great advice in there

Today is Adoption Day! in 6.5 hours time i'll be sitting here with my new ratties! I can tell this day is going to drag on!I haven't thought of any names yet as i figure i'll bring them back and get to know them for an hour or two and see if any names jump out at me First things first though, getting the space ready to put my new rattie mansion in

I'll be sure to take plenty of pics of them being welcomed home and introduced to their new playgroud and put them on later.

So much excitement!
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-28-2012, 12:13 PM Thread Starter
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Well, the kids are home! Turned out i knew the breeder from school years ago too which was nice. I fell in love with one rat who was bigger than all the others although the same age because he was hand raised by the breeder as he was kicked out of the litter. He's a hooded and the other fella is a black/brown berkshire and he's stunning! I went for males in the end and im so happy with them!

The pet shop lady forgot to bring the cage in so got to pick that up tomorrow and the new kids will have to make do with an hamster cage i had from a year or two ago. They are so well adjusted and socialized and it's obvious he puts a lot of care into his breeding. A lot of his rats he's had have made it to the 3 year or so mark so hopefully my boys will be happy and healthy for a long time They are next to me exploring the cage as we speak so i'll try and get some pictures soon. The breeder/friend i got them from sells them at such a good price too. £3 each so i guess thats like $4.70 in US.

Now the hard task....naming them!

Hope you're all well!
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-28-2012, 12:31 PM Thread Starter
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1st lesson learnt: Getting a non blurry picture of a rattie baby isn't as easy as it seems! lol
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-28-2012, 03:55 PM
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I can't tell you how excited I am for you. (Other new potential rat owners take a page from his experience: Doing your homework before you bring your babies home will go a long way towards making your experience awesome instead of stressful!)

I'm glad you've got an experience breeder who's got your back here too. They can mentor you as you go along so much better than some places.

We all can't wait to see the new bubs. Trick for photographing wiggly rats: Natural sunlight and the high speed motion setting on your camera....and lots, and lots of battery time as you are forced to use the spray and pray method of photo snapping. You'll get 10 good shots out of 100.


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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-28-2012, 04:21 PM
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This is so exciting! I am also anxious to see photos of your new ones. I usually took photos around nap time, when my boys were quiet and relaxed. (The photo of Russell in my signature was taken during nap time, and the photo of Stanley was during a brief quiet moment in play time.)


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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-28-2012, 05:29 PM Thread Starter
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Ok i've uploaded one pic of each to an album on my profile for anyone who wants a look Going to take lots of pictures tomorrow when i've got them set up properly and they've had time to get settled a bit and their curiosity gets the better of them I've named the black berkshire Rogan but can't nail down a name i really love for the hooded fella yet.
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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-28-2012, 08:43 PM
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I'm a storyteller by profession so I'm always interested in back stories. Is there any special reason you picked Rogan? Such a seriously manrat name. I see him standing on a cliff with his rat cloak billowing behind squinting sternly out to sea. I'm partial to black rats. Especially big black manrats. I've owned four total, and one black female.

Your hoodie is agouti! So few of those in my area. I've never seen one first hand.


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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-29-2012, 03:21 AM
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Tom, I just saw the photos and my gosh, your boys are just beautiful!! So gorgeous and sweet!! Rogan is a very stately and handsome name and I know you will come to a good decision on a special name for your beautiful agouti hoodie boy. They are just so adorable!! Congrats on your new kids and we look forward to hearing your upcoming posts. I think your boys are very lucky to have you.


P.S. and you are right...getting a good non-blurry photo of a ratty is very hard to do!

Vlad

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You will always be with me, my sweet boys. I will see you at the Bridge.

Last edited by Vladina; 09-29-2012 at 03:26 AM.
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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-29-2012, 11:12 AM Thread Starter
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I think i've decided to call the Hooded agouti Rebel! Because he was kicked out of his litter so he was handraised and is much more confident and outgoing that Rogan. In the cage on the car ride home rogan stayed in the hidey box but Rebel came out and was exploring and sniffing around

Got the new cage today and i'm currently hunting round the house for things to put in it to make it a little less sparse....
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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-29-2012, 11:32 AM
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haha I like that name I almost named my first rat rebel but because that was my dogs name when I was a kid
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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 09-29-2012, 01:06 PM Thread Starter
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Yay! I finally picked up the cage and have hopefully now got it all set up to be the best it can with my current resources. No doubt i'll add many toys/furnishings before long. I'd appreciate it if any of you guys could take a look at the picture of the cage i uploaded to my profile and let me know if you see any issues i need to address before i introduce Rebel and Rogan to their new abode

Thanks all!
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