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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-26-2012, 09:14 AM Thread Starter
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Litter training my rats

Hello there. I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts and advice on litter training rats. I had originally tried it with my two girls and they had no interest what-so-ever and continued going all over the cage. I had tried when the one was pregnant and I didn't know it though, so in the end she ended up wrecking the litter box and trying to hide her babies behind it. I want to try again, but I'm wondering if there are any little tricks to doing it. Any help would be much appreciated. Thank you!
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-26-2012, 11:35 AM
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The only tricks I've used are two fold...and it very much depends on the rat's personality.

1) Figure out where they like to go most and put a litter box there. This may mean more than one litter box. At the bottoms of ramps and in corners are common locations.

2) Make sure the litter used in the litter box is a different material than the rest of their cage. At my house we use fleece liners for the flooring and ramps, and unscented Yesterday's News for their litter boxes.

3) Put any stray poo into the litter box by hand so they start associating to it by scent.

4) If they insist on pooing in a different spot, move the litter box.

5) And most importantly....the younger they are when they start the more likely they are to pick it up.

Of my 8 rats half of them are litter box trained. The other half could care less.

Good luck!


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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-26-2012, 11:56 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you for your feedback, Storyseeker. I am probably going to start trying to do it soon. Have to pick up some more corner litter boxes. My guess is none of them are going to use it except maybe the hairless who I feel horrible for because he's in a cage by himself since I'm afraid to put my 2 baby boys in there with him since they're so rambunctious. He seems to look at all the other ones like they're crazy and like he's better than them, so maybe he will be and will actually be easy to litter train. Thanks again for the help!
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-26-2012, 03:16 PM
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You can also get a bunch of shallow boxes like they use at the grocery store to store food cans. I bet you could get those for free if you're willing to look. I pick mine up when I go to the grocery. I just ask them if they have extras.

If you can neuter your hairless boy, you'll be able to put him in with the girls.

I wouldn't put them directly into each others' cages regardless, because that's clamed territory and they each will defend it violently.


You will want to do slow intros in a neutral territory (non-scent claimed yet). He should do fine with the baby boys until they hit sexual maturity. I believe the cut off for 'easy' introductions is five months. After that, hormones kick in and it's a lot more dicey. Juveniles are easiest, followed by Neutered males and females, followed by adult females, followed by the most difficult which are adult males.

Here's a starter link on how to 'intro' rats to each other. It's a drawn out process and there's a bit of an art to it.

http://ratguide.com/care/behavior/introducing_rats.php


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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-26-2012, 03:29 PM Thread Starter
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Ya know, it's funny.. I work at a vet's office and we don't deal with small animals but my boss said he would neuter the rats for me.. I'm just really terrified of doing it. They're tricky on the anesthesia and I'd hate for something else to go wrong with any of them. I will definitely work on introducing them. I was actually just looking at cages for after they are all settled.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-26-2012, 03:34 PM
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Good advice from Storyseeker. My boys litter trained really quickly, but just for their poop. For urine most rats will just go wherever they want!

Another tip regarding Yesterday's News: do not buy the kind labeled for small animals. It is the exact same product as the cat litter, but a LOT more expensive! Just buy a big bag of the cat litter and always make sure to freeze what you are going to use a day or two before you use it. This helps to kill any possible mites in the litter. I just always kept a ziploc bag of Yesterday's News in my freezer, and refilled it whenever I cleaned my boy's cage.


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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-26-2012, 05:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MissRattie View Post
Ya know, it's funny.. I work at a vet's office and we don't deal with small animals but my boss said he would neuter the rats for me.. I'm just really terrified of doing it. They're tricky on the anesthesia and I'd hate for something else to go wrong with any of them. I will definitely work on introducing them. I was actually just looking at cages for after they are all settled.
You know your boss best. Has he done /any/ other small animals? If he's had no experience doing rats, I'd look around to see who does. Neutering is the least invasive of the possible surgeries for rats. The incision is about the width of a thumbnail if that. I've had a problem with abscessing with my hairless boys, but a follow up trip to the vet for draining and AB's and they were fine.

As for whether or not to do it, different people have different opinions. Four of my seven boys ended up being neutered for different reasons. My two hairless for hormonal aggression. My big man Black Pete because he temporarily lost his mind when he took over the cage after the death of his best bro....the neuter calmed him down considerably. I neutered my last boy because I'd just gotten girls. I've heard too many stories about randy girls getting in with boys by squeezing their tinier bodies through impossible cage bars; or a family member accidentally putting a rat into the wrong cage after playing with them, or just something in the water.

However many folks say neutering except in cases of extreme hormonal aggression is unnecessary and cruel. Me? I think it's cruel to keep them isolated because a miserable soup of raging hormones or fertility keep them from interacting well with other potential cage mates.

If it were me, I'd go through the intro process with hairless boy and the baby boys and see if they can get along. The intro process can be as little as one session, or as long as a couple of months of every day working on it.

If they can live together, then it's a matter of whether they get hormonal later or if you're willing to deal with keeping them completely separated from the females.


And, good tip Breyer, about freezing the bedding. I forgot about mentioning that. I'd freeze any store bought bedding for a couple of days before use. Prevention is less painful than the cure and all that.


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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-26-2012, 07:31 PM
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Wow, between Storyseeker and Breyer, you got all the best information you could ask for.


I agree with Story about the neutering. Don't let a vet who isn't experienced with small animals neuter your rat. If you decide you want to neuter him later, ask for a reference from your vet for a small animal/exotic vet who has done many rat neuters.


Yes, doing intros with your hairless would be wonderful, so he is not alone in his own cage. He needs to socialize with other ratties so he does not become depressed and lonely.


I also use fleece and flannel in my boys' house and pellet litter in their litter boxes and I do what Breyer does. Keep the litter in a big ziploc in the freezer and grab some as needed straight from the freezer.

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