Im thinking of getting a couple of rats! advise please! - Paw Talk - Pet Forums
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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old 11-21-2009, 07:39 PM Thread Starter
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Question Im thinking of getting a couple of rats! advise please!

Heya everyone,

Im thinking of getting a few rats next year at some stage, but I want to make sure I know as much about them as I can before I commit, I want to make sure I can keep them properly!

First of all does it make any difference whether I get male or female rats? I want single sexed pairs obviously to avoid breeding, but I have three mice currently and ive heard that male mice smell worse then my three females.

Also how much do they generally cost to keep? and how often would I need to clean them? I currently clean my mice once every three days would two female rats need the same care?

How large a cage would any of you recommend for them so that they can live comfortably? Obviously the larger the better, but I do live in a smallish apartment and I dont think im going to have space for the worlds biggest cage, but at the same time I dont want it to be too small.

Also how much handling time would they need as a minimum each day? I hold my mice for half hour each every day, sometimes more, would the same be required for rats?

I know this is a lot of questions, and ive had a few people talk to me about it but none of them have owned rats themselves and I would like to get the opinions of some of you that are far more experienced.

Many thanks

Cath xXx


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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old 11-21-2009, 07:55 PM
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hey!
there are quite a few threads that might be able to help you that i'm too lazy to dig up haha
but to answer some of your questions.
.
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Females= a bit less smelly, have softer hair when they grow up, are smaller, more active and less cuddly. They are more prone to tumors.
Males=super cuddly and less active, get coarser hair as adults because of hormones, have very visible testicules.
Both male and female make GREAT pets. Any rat, male or female, smells a LOT LESS than mice. They are both great pets to have, it just depends on what you prefer. I have a female and I love it when I take her out the cage because she explores everything and plays with me, and then i get to pet her and all the cuddly stuff when she's tired. I'll let people who have males describe them better
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I have just one female rat, so I clean the cage once a week and even then it's not that smelly at all.
They do need a lot of space, I have a 24" height x 24" width x 16" thick cage which I think would be ideal for 2 rats. I personnally wouldn't put 2 rats in less space than that.
The very minimum out of the cage is 1h per day. They are VERY social animals, a lot more than mice and they need the interaction and stimulation outside the cage.
My rat costs me very little money. I make my own food mix which cost about 20$ to make and lasts for 5 or 6 months (so 3 months for 2 rats!) and then I buy bedding for about 5$ every few months. If you use a toilet corner, that will save you some money! The most expensive thing will be the cage, and then make sure you are able to afford the vet if anything goes wrong!
Try not to get them at the pet store, you'll get better socialized rats from a rescue or breeder!
Also, do a LOT of research! petstore clerks will try to sell you food that's actually not at all appropriate for rats, you should know they shouldn't eat dry corn, and avoid any premade mix that has any!
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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old 11-22-2009, 12:34 AM
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Dustette pretty much said it all about the males and females different. Of course you know how mice can stink out a room and rats take WAY longer to do that! Of course it all depends on the rat though too, you could get a super cuddly girl or an active boy, it's just on average.

I have two female rats and I clean the cage once a week, sometimes every six days. Trust me, I have mice and the difference between them is CRAZY! The rats hardly stink by the one week mark. They are pretty cheap to keep really...Maybe $15 a month or less. That's not including vet care of course should something happen, but there isn't a high risk for much health issues until they get older. I buy a huge bag of aspen (only safe woodchips for them) for $5. It lasts at least a month for me. The food that I get costs $8, its called Reggie Rat Food but sometimes its good to mix in a homemade healthy mix too. Then treats and toys...

Martins cages are great. www.martinscages.com They have many different styles and you can customize them too.

  1. Super Pet Deluxe My First Home Cage for exotics
This one CAN hold 4 rats, but since that it a maximum I would say 2-3 would be very happy in one this size...if you find a cage you can go to an online rat cage calculator and it will tell you if it is big enough for 2 rats.

I would NOT recommend getting them from a pet store. They are very unsocialized and unhealthy. I agree with Dustette, try to find a breeder and then you can meet them and adopt them young...or if you go with a rescue you could possibly try a male and female because they are normally spayed/neutered. Good Luck!

They need at least 1 hour of out of cage time per day. You can let them go pea fishing, or just let them run around. With my girls I just let them run around with supervision and sometimes they crawl up in my lap. They aren't too exited about cuddling but they are young and active and will easily tolerate it.

This thread has a lot of good info, I started it when I was thinking about getting some rats too. http://www.paw-talk.net/forums/f16/r...ght=rat+owners


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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old 11-22-2009, 05:27 AM
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Not sure if rats are the same but two boy mice together will fight, so check whether it's okay to have more than one male together. I can't imagine anything worse than seeing your babies hurting!


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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old 11-22-2009, 08:56 AM
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Personally I prefer male rats.
Male rats are usually more cuddly and lazy and will sit with you when you watch a movie or something,while females are usually more interested in playing and exploring.

Males get bigger then females and their fur is not as soft as females.As for smell,personally I noticed females can small the same as male rats (I don't have females now,but when I did...they often peed in their hammocks and stuff,just like the males).It is nothing like mice though.Male mice can clear a room,rats...not so much.

You can get some good cages at Martin's.
www.martinscages.com

Rats need AT LEAST one hour a day out of their cages,more is better though.Rats are very smart and need things to do or to explore.Toys are important for happy ratties.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mossa View Post
Not sure if rats are the same but two boy mice together will fight, so check whether it's okay to have more than one male together. I can't imagine anything worse than seeing your babies hurting!
Male rats are fine together.They are much more social then male mice.Rats are very social and should be kept in same sex pairs or groups.I have 4 males who are best buds,they don't even squabble.




* Lisa *

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


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* It's a rat thing...you wouldn't understand! *
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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old 11-22-2009, 10:32 AM
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Aww that's sweet that boy ratties like being together, that has done even more to convince me to get ratties next year


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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old 11-22-2009, 10:50 AM Thread Starter
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Awesome a lot of great advise there! does anyone know how I would be able to track down a breeder near where I live? Ive not heard of many people keeping rats nearby, and I dont want to get them from a petshop because I dont think they treat them very well, I also got my three mice from a petshop and I think ill breeding has probably made them more susceptible to the tumors that two of them now have :S

Handling rats for an hour a day is no problem! are they abit less active then mice? as I find that when I hold my mice I need to do so individually in case they decide to make a break for freedom! Is it also true that you can toilet train rats or is that a rumor? xxx


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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old 11-22-2009, 10:55 AM
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Yes, its not very difficult to litter train them. Just get a litter corner and fill it and then move the poop into the litter and they usually just figure it out! I can have both of my females out at the same time and I can't with my mice unless someone is there to help me...Rats are active but they are easier to catch, if that makes sense.

For the breeder...are you in Bristol UK? Because you can go to a search engine and type in 'Rat breeders in Bristol'.


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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old 11-22-2009, 11:04 AM Thread Starter
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yeah that makes sence obviously I wouldnt let them run around without supervision! Ive heard what everyones been saying about owning rats, and ive always wanted a pair for myself but I want to know more about them before I commit, again because I want to make sure I can afford to and have the knowledge to look after them properly! How old do they have to be before you can buy them? and how do you tell a good breeder from a bad? xxx


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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old 11-22-2009, 11:17 AM
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Not sure how to tell a good breeder from a bad, but they will probably ask more questions about you to find out that you are a going to give the rats a good home Babies are weaned at 5-6 weeks and by 6 weeks you can usually get them.




Those are pictures of rats(so you can see the size)at 6 weeks.


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post #11 of 25 (permalink) Old 11-22-2009, 12:06 PM
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There's a thread about signs to watch out for in breeders, maybe i can dig it up.
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I just wanted to say, most people here use aspen bedding, but I REALLY like Hemp bedding. It's a bit more expensive but very absorbent, I tried aspen and I found that the pee smell was a lot more noticeable than with the hemp! It's a bit harder to find too, but for me it's worth it because my boyfriend does not like rats and if the cage smells i get all kinds of remarks!
So with the hemp, no smell for a week! and when it smells, it's because she peed in her hammock...
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post #12 of 25 (permalink) Old 11-22-2009, 01:04 PM
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There is a thread on there called red flaged breeders. I have lots of diffrent critters but I have time for them all and ushally dont breed all of them at once as in have diffrent typs of babies and if I do its more like mice and rats becuase mice are a little easer then rats in my OPP.
But you should always when buying from a breeder go visit them and see how they keep their pets. I have seen people who have junk in their yard and their house is cluttered but it smells clean and the animals are clean food water avalible and this is just people that I know own pets. Granted I have a few things cluttered in my parking shed but thats becuase it wont fit in the shed but it wont ruin outside either.
Males are so cuddly but I do have some that are like the girls they like to exsplore, but that more becasue they are young. Females can be cuddle and ushally are but I work with mine to were when I am holding them they cuddle they are down they are playful balls of bouncyness. Sorta like a playful ferret in my OPP.
Cages should be big and not small. They need room. you can get a tad smaller cage but that would requre more out time to play. So bigger is better. I always try to get cages that will hold lots of rats even if there is only 2 or 3 that is in there that way if I keep any out of litters, some one returnes one or I get a drop off I have room.
Here is a picture of my friends rats the cage is wider then it is long. But they are not perminetly staying in there she had it for them when they were smaller and then she moved and is in the prosses of getting them a bigger cage. Also she is at home all the time and has them out with her even while doing dishes they just sit there. This is NOT and ideal cage for adult size rats unless they are dwarfs then maybe. But this is an exsample of small cage a lot of out time. And if you work you want them to be able to get around and play while away. She just had them in there while she was packing to move and I am awaiting her to send me pictures of the new cage.
But there is free range rats were you do a room up for them that is theres. but You did say you are in a small place. So a cage is proably better. The Bath tub is a great place to have them out in for play time (easy to clean up any messes) Males and females get along great but if they are from diffrent litters as in not been housed together or breeders you shouls intor them to one another 1st to see if they will get along. So socilization exspeially with adult rats they say were gloves incase a fight breacks out. But young ones tend to be more ok in my OPP.
Litter taining can be done and mixing your own food is always better then buying what they call rat food. Some is not to bad but they need more then what is offered. Bedding can be care freash, critter care, aspen, some use soft wood beding which is not to bad and is dust free. There are pellets but I dont like that stuff, Shreaded paper carefull of news paper and the ink. Or if litter trianed you can use flees or old towls as flooring as bedding becuase they will use the litter, but this has to be washed the flees and towl bedding that is.
Pet store rats is tricky unless you really know them and they do work with them. The one around here that I use to call the crapy one is not starting to work with the feeders and socilize them. If you do get from a pet shop play with them and see how friendly they are 1st. But there are shelters that may have some that are socil but are not wated. Classifides are tricky as well they advertize them but inless you go there to find out and play with them you dont always know what you are getting. I yes do advertize on classifided adds but I put down my web page and say they are sosilized and anyone that wanted to come see them and see how freindly they are the ones for adoption are more then welcome to. IF a breeder dont want you to come to them to see them something is proably wrong. Not seeing their breeding coliny or other pets is not to red flaged becuase there other pets can pick up air born stuff you bring in not knowing, and they may be looking out for thier other pets. If you ask them why and they tell you that then thats fine but if they say something like becuase their not for sale or none of your bizz then dont get a rat.
Also are there any fosters or rescues near you? you could always get one from their to help give them a home. thouse place ushally have worked with them to socilize them. some of mine from pet shops and drop offs as in when I am not home I come home ot a box full of critters of some sort. I have been lucky they were all nice and granted a little skidish at 1st but warmed up with in a few days and know they all cling to the cage when you walk by pushing and shoving the others like hey see me.
Food and beding is not to costly if you shop right. you can get them what they need in a cheeper brand but look at the ingretents before buying. I get some of the mix at aldes but I look at the ingredents 1st. cages and vets will cost and if they need medication which is with any pet. Adoption fees are any were around here I have seen from 5 to 10 to 15 at the most and most are same sex cage mates. The hairless or rex and them some breeders adopt out at 15 becasuse they are not found to much in pet stores as pets or in the feeders. Also hairless dont need to much more then a regulaer rat but they do need soemthing to help keep them warm and some have told me they have dry skin or can get it. I have not had that probelm. Some cost a little more becuase they are special needs. But also it may depend on were they live. if they live far out from stores they may chareg a little more for gas to get to the store to get their suplys or if they live close the stuff in bigger place can cost more depending on what they buy. Around me, some stuff is high some stuff is not.
You may be able to find nice cages on classified adds or yard sales are great places becuase I have found some nice still in almost brand new shape to use. some times and twice I have been to the good will or salvation army and got new cages that were still in brand new shape looked like they were never used. Grated they were small bird cages but I fixed them up with leaves and stuff for my male mice at one time and my hamsters. Dwarf hammies I should say.
IMO you sould spot clean every day or every other day depending on how many you have. and throughly clean once a week. My rats throw stuff out of there cages so you can put something like wood underneith for eaer sweep up or plastic ir and old rug you can roll up and shake it outside. I have some old cheep rugs thouse little striped all diffrent colored rugs you can get at the dollar store donw just twice a day weather it needs it or not pick up and shake out. Then once a week wash them and start over.
Every rat person has there own oppions to owning and keeping rats as in bedding food and toys but as long as they are all saying close to the same thing and some things exsacly then you know your heading in the right direction. Like with diffrent sites on owning and caring for rats most sites will all as about or exsacly the same thing. then there are a couple that dont come anywere close.
I think some one menchened a rat calculater? yes thouse are good to use. Also rats can be diffrent sizes small, med, large and dwarf so you have to add that facter in as well. Some of my rats are large and the large cage for them seems to not give them the room it required for 2 rats so I got a bigger cage. And they are happer and can have more rats with them. But the claculater is the best you can get to help you find out.
I hope that answer some of your questions.
Diamond



Agin this is not the size cage I would use but they were younger when she got them. Also Black heart and Night Hawk wont will not get any bigger this was a temp cage during the move. The bedding she used was soft wood. and she got that brown packing paper and has the shreder that shreds it more fine that she mixed together. She since then has gotten a bigger cage and I am just awhaiting updated pictures. This was from last month.
But again her rats are out with her all the time and she has them constently with her. they only time she puts them in is to eat drink and sleep. They will get figety and when they do she puts them back to go potty becuase thats how they tell her have to potty. This lady is more abbsest with rats in a good way then even me and i have a lot. They are like siamese twins to her. as in always with her. the ony time they are not is when she leaves the hose and cant take them with her.
Diamond


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post #13 of 25 (permalink) Old 11-22-2009, 01:07 PM
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Dustette brought up a good point...the cleaner you keep the bars (daily wipe down) and fleece blankets or hammocks...the less smelly it will be.


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post #14 of 25 (permalink) Old 11-23-2009, 03:14 AM
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I have two female rats. They have a bucket bottom cage and I got them from the pet store, though they were from a breeder who sold them through the pet store. They've got wonderful personalities. I use aspen bedding though I would rather use Kaytee's range, except where I work stopped stocking it so I can't. I had a lot more written before but for some reason it didn't let me post.

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post #15 of 25 (permalink) Old 11-23-2009, 04:46 PM Thread Starter
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Awesome thanks for the advise guys! Theres certainly a lot to consider. I know there are different breeds of rats too, are any breeds easier to tame then others? I want quite a sociable pair that I can get out for a few hours a day perhaps even more, and hopefully that I can get out together too! Also are any breeds more hardy then others? as a first time rat owner I want to be able to look after them properly and also learn abit from doing so and gain some experience from keeping them.


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