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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-26-2010, 11:36 PM Thread Starter
Newborn Pup
 
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hello all, new mom rat questions

Hi everybody.
I've had rats in the past and just loved them to pieces, i think they're some of the best pets to have. on that note i'm going to be fostering some rats from my school (not used for testing or anything, don't worry) specifically a mom rat and her new litter of pups and I just wanted to know some specifics of what I should do with them. I bought the same pet block as what the school is feeding and have the cage all ready for them. Mostly my question is what should i do about handling them? the mom rat is social and doesn't mind being picked up but we've all been banned from holding her since she gave birth because there are so many students that it would just stress her out. i want the pups to be well socialized and i've read that you can handle them from birth, although it didn't turn out that way for this litter, so when can i start handling them? should i wait until the mom trusts me or until they turn 5 weeks old and i separate the genders? i THINK they're about 2 weeks old if i'm remembering my dates correctly.

Thanks for the advice!
p.s. i'd checked the forums for similar posts and couldn't find anything that matched my situation
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-27-2010, 03:44 AM
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Hello!
Nice to see you on the forum.
Well, I wish I had personal experience with rat babies but I don't, although, at least until you get more replies, is there a local small animal vet you could call for some advice on this? Or get a rat care book or something like that? Just trying to think of some options. Our local small animal vet has a very friendly clinic staff that are always happy to take questions over the phone and if they cannot answer it, they ask the vet for me. Just a thought. But it is nice to see you are trying to do the right thing by the babies and mother! I can tell you are already a caring foster mommy. Keep us posted and sorry I could not give you a specific answer! I will check my rat books as well and see if I can find some info on this for you.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-27-2010, 08:15 AM
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You should be able to go ahead and handle them, but if you want to do it without getting a nasty nip it's a good idea to build a relationship with mommy first. It's all about trust. Also you can avoid some potentially rough situations by moving slowly and carefully around the babies and taking mom out of the cage before you reach in for babies instead of reaching past her. I used to take my mommies out and have them on my shoulder while I removed the babies and then put mommy back in the cage. Rats are not naturally aggressive, but they are usually great parents which can lead to some aggressive behavior on behalf of the kiddos.

What lab block do you have them on? You want to make sure it's a very high quality one. And since nursing is taking a lot out of mommy you should supplement that some. A good vitamin supplement along with other nutritional foods as treats like boiled egg, and occassional fruits and veggies (not too much or you'll have diarrhea issues) could really help. Also, don't just handle those babies. Remember, they're exhausting, so give your mommy a short break out of the cage away from those little terrors every now and again too!
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-27-2010, 11:53 AM Thread Starter
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thanks guys! the block i bought is Kaytee brand forti-diet pro-health with DHA and Omega-3. I'll definitely make sure to supplement it with goodies to make sure she's getting everything she needs. Like i said she was very friendly before she had the litter so hopefully she'll be willing to form a bond with me. she's always been interested in what's going on when we'd go in the rodent room to feed and as far as i know hasn't bitten anybody while being fed after the litter was born. again, thanks for the advice and i'll try to post some pictures soon!
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-27-2010, 01:29 PM
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forti-diet's not bad. The best one is harlan tekklad. I just found out you can order that stuff pretty cheap on this website craftyrat.com. I think for growing babies you use 2018 and then after 8 months you do 2014. It has a much lower percentage of protein and fat than the store bought brands and high protein/ high fat diets have been linked with a number of ratty health problems including obesity and tumors.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-27-2010, 03:11 PM Thread Starter
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thanks, i'll check it out! also, i had another question about when to change the bedding. I'm going to buy some carefresh (my preferred brand) and change what's outside of the nest cause it's pretty nasty but i'm hesitant to change the nest bedding itself. she's got most of the shredded newspaper (used by the school) inside her hide so i'm not sure how much i can disturb the nest without her freaking out. would it be better to just change some of it and leave some of what's already in there or just change it out all at once? or option C and not change the nest bedding at all?
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-27-2010, 03:57 PM
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What do the babies look like? Are they still pink and blind and hairless or are they fuzzy and a bit bigger? If your timeline is right and they really are two weeks old you should be able to take everyone out of the cage and change all the bedding, in and out of the nest, without bothering anyone too much. If they still seem like brand new pinkies I'd leave them alone a bit longer.

Carefresh may not be the best option, it's infamous for causing sneezing. I've never seen any research that shows it actually causes respiratory problems but it does cause sneezing, irritation, and porphyrin, which seems like it would be uncomfortable even if it wasn't technically making them sick.

In just the little nest area, I used to put pieces of fleece, that way you have really soft fabric that feels great to sensitive baby skin but no strings or loose edges that they can get caught or strangled in.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-27-2010, 04:19 PM Thread Starter
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they're fuzzies now, walking around but it looks like their eyes are still shut. i haven't taken a really close look at them yet cause i don't want to stress them out. fleece sounds like a good idea for the nest but what would you suggest for the rest of the cage?
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-27-2010, 04:54 PM Thread Starter
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Oh, also my mom made a mixture of i tbs borax, 3 tbs white vinegar, 2 cups water, and 1 tbs dish soap as a general cleaner and i was wondering if everyone thought that it'd be okay to use to clean out the cage? with my other rats i just wiped their cages down with clorox wipes and rinsed, rinsed, rinsed but i don't want to do that with these guys because the babies are so young.
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