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21 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, it's great to be making a post! This is going to be a diary of sorts of becoming a rat parent (again!), but this time, with lovable, squishable, bucks. The added feature being is that I will have a community of others who know and want the best for these amazing creatures, so you can help guide and steer me towards making this the best possible life for these boys.

I'm also much older and wiser, so I am doing lots and lots of research before they come home. Hence the 02:20am ramble to you guys.

First off, a quick introduction into who I am -
Name: Nattily
Age: 23
Had any rats before?: Yes, one, which in retrospect was cruel - I should have gotten her a friend, and although she was treated better than I was by my own family, I now realise that she would have benefited on a psychological level by having her peers around her.
Current pets: Two rescue cats - Rincewind (RW) is a 6 year old blue beaut, and I am sure he's got some Russian Blue in him (but who doesn't think their children have that Extra Something), although highly unlikely as he was a stray. Sylvia is a 4 year old black and white domestic shorthair, with the most loveliest personality in the world, a breath of fresh air from aloof RW. They are both FIV+, and are indoor because of that.
Anything else then feel free to ask!

I was going to rehome all of my rats, and one of them is coming from someone in Sheffield who can no longer look after her buck due to health and family issues (namely that he has bit her 10 month old, and she has been in-and-out of hospital). I do not have much information on him, just that he is called Percy, he is a black and white, and that he lived with another rat who recently died at the age of 3 (she also says all of her previous rats have gotten to that age). I believe he is from a breeder as well, as she is knowledgeable about the increase of tumors in rats bought from pet shops.

The other three are brothers, from a NFRS registered breeder in Sheffield, specializing in dumbo, Russian Blue, and black marked.

I have a picture of them at 1 day old, and 6 days old, but cannot post due to my post count not being 20 or greater. So you'll just have to wait and see!

Below I am going to list what cage I am going to get, plus accessories.

Please feel free to ask any questions! (And if I sound really formal I apologize, I've been essay writing recently and I cannot break out of it!)

21 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Parrot Cage, Alpha Male, Fleece Cage Liners

I used to have a massive cage, but it was just for show really as my Maya was a free-roaming rat, who had the full run of my bedroom and family living-room at her disposal. And when she died of a respiratory condition, I gave it to my friend who had 4 does.

This time I am going for a parrot cage to house my rats, for two reasons:
1) It was £25, an absolute steal! And,
2) It's on a stand, which is perfect as it'll stop my two curious cats from harassing them at every turn by sitting next to them on the desk, and purring menacingly to them.
Again, I have a picture, but I cannot post it.

Cage dimensions are: approx 36" high, 21.5" deep and 33.5" wide, standing on 21.5" legs on castors. Total height 57.5".
This puts it on the Ratty Corner calculator as being fit to house 7 rats with 2 cubic feet per rat. Enough room for everyone!
I've just had to email the person with it, as it doesn't have the bar spacing on it, and it's making me panic because of how little the baby boys are, I can just imagine them squeezing out.
Percy is coming with a cage (he is free, and the cage is £10), so if the bars are too small, I can house the baby ones in there until they grow a bit...Can't I?
I hope to pick up Percy and the parrot cage next week, and the baby boys won't be coming 'til they are 6 weeks old (so the 28th of November), so I am going to get the parrot cage ready, but be off-limits to Percy so he doesn't make himself the alpha of the cage. This should hopefully make his acceptance of the babies more smoother.

What I have been researching today is fleece cage liners, as something that is ecologically sound (just reuse them), crafty (I am going to help my much more capable seamstress friend), frugal (I can easily get hold of fleece material), and, the best bit, isn't something I am allergic to (wood chippings make my eyes stream)!
Does anybody here make/use fleece liners?

21 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Cage Accessories, Keeping It Interesting, Shelves, Necessities

As well as researching what to use as a liner (fleece on it's own, fleece with towel inside, fleece with puppy pads, fleece held down with velco, fleece held down with clips), I've also been trying to see what it is I can put into the cage to make life as enjoyable for the boys as can be.

Obviously there is the necessities:
Since this is an ex-parrot cage, it comes with two perches, so I need to invest in some shelves. Luckily, someone on Ebay (Ranch House Cages) makes fantastic wooden shelves, of all different dimensions, in a whole medley of designs - ones for corners, ones with guards, ones with holes in them...I'm going to go for a set of 5 different features (extra large, large, standard, leaping, small corner) to begin with, and then get some for when I change their cage around to keep things interesting.
I'm also going to be getting 2 stainless steel bolt feeding bowls, a ceramic corner bowl (for either to use as an alternative water dish, or to wash themselves in), a litter tray, and 3 bottles at various heights.
If there is anything else that is deemed a necessity, please let me know. Or, if an extra food bowl is needed, again, please let me know.

As well as that what is deemed the bare minimum, there is going to be items for enrichment,
3 hammocks in different designs I.E. one that has one opening, one that has 3 levels, and one that has two - I love the ones done by BitsOHeaven on Etsy, especially the Halloween ones!
A long rope which'll be used as a gangway from one end of the cage to the other, and when they are let out on free-roaming time, it'll be their way of climbing back into their cage.
Kong for small animals with healthy treats inside.
Making them a pinata of healthy treats (or the item Superpet Veggie Basket looks fun for them).
A knotnibbler for their teeth
As well as things that I make myself - I've been saving cardboard and toilet roll tubes for them.
Different types of chews.

I also saw that someone planted parrot seed in a container of clean dirt, and waited for them to sprout before giving it to them - their love of digging, plus eating delicious things is bound to be a success!
I've also seen the videos of people giving their rat a full hard-boiled egg, which I am dying to try, just to see the look on their face as they try and crack something roughly half their size open.

Again, if there is anything that you feel I must get for them, then please do not hesitate to tell me, either through this post, or personally.

21 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Rat Diet, Rat Nutrition, Shunamite Type Diet, Cancer Causing Foods

I've been doing a bit of research on what to feed my rats, and I came across the Shunamite Type Diet, which, as user furrybeastie on explained a whole lot better than I ever could in the following paragraphes:

"The principle behind the Shunamite diet is that many commercial mixes aren't ideal. They often contain low quality ingrediants, or fillers rats can't digest (like alfalfa), or major on Ingredients which don't help rat health long term. They also are designed specifically to suit rats at a certain stage of there life and don't change with the rats changing needs (e.g. a kitten needs higher protien and vits than an adult, an oldie needs less protien but more of some vits etc). It is possible to use a commercial diet and feed fresh to help sort this, but a lot of people find it better to mix there own balanced mixes. It also let's you up the amount of variety of food your rats get in each mx which really helps keep our intelligent friends thinking and interested.I
t also let's you control the quality and type of ingredients. Say like ne you've had bad experiences with poultry protien in the past, or you know that avoiding wheat will help your rats as they age

The main principles behind both the old and newer Shunamite diet is to create a healthy mix which is balanced but with enough fkexibilty to allow you to suit your rats ages, health, sex and individual needs. It uses a minimally processed grain mix as base and adds food groups to that. To make it simple Alison has listed it by volume, taking into account typically densitys and nutritional values. It does rely on you following those guidelines well or being able to understand the why and adjust the mix properly, however its easy enough for anyone to follow if they want to. I'll explain the basics using the newer version of the diet, ad I prefer it, but its not massively different to the old one really. Note all values are by volume, I've done my own version by weight (so been able to calculate the nutritional values of the mix) but generally the volumetric one works better for ne.

Base mix (50 to 60 percent or 5 to 6 scoops). This is typically a low protien mixture of minimally processed whole grains. You can use something like agood quality rabbit food, a mixture of grains you make yourself, a rat rations base mix etc. Typically in the wild grains make up the majority of a rats diet. They are designed to eat them. They are high in carbs, but not too digestablw (so a rat is less likley to get fat on them), they ate generally low in protien and some vitamins and minerals but high in others and fiber. Using a rabbit food base (as long as it is one enriched with vits) is the easiest option for this section. The main thing with this is to make sure the base has a nice mix of grains and you can pick out bases that suit you. Like me and many buck owners picking bases low in wheat and oats to help protect our rats kidneys)

Processed grains (15 to 20 percent, or 1.5 to 2 scoops) - this is typically a good mixture of grain types but more easy to digest. Typically things are rice puffs, corn flakes, rice crackers, shredded wheat, white rice, pasta, pearl barley, ryevita etc. Because they are made for humans they are often enriched by vits, whilst they are still low in protien overall they are more digestable and can help add in some trace vitamins.

Herbs and veg (10 percent) - this typically involves dried veg and herbs, such as soup mixes and those lovely natural herb ranges you get for nimbus.TThis is used to add flavour variety and interest as well as vitamins and minerals. It also let's you pick things for specific health benefits such as dandilion to support kidneys, or mint to make them smell nice, or echanacia to boost the immune system.

Seeds (5 percent) - this typically involves a range of high oil content seeds, it helps add omega oils into their diet which is crucial to system health, as well as giving there coat a real shine. Typically seeds like pinion, hemp andllinseed ate faves but parrot mix is also a nice easy altrnative.

Protien (5 to 10 percent) - this can be a few things, the easiest is a good quality dog kibble, fish based is popular due to distrust or ethical issues with farmed chicken. Then there's things like dried shrimps and bugs, or veggy sources like soya and peas. This is the section that needs most thinking about, all the other sections are easy to keep balanced as long as you choose sensibly and avoid high sugar options. Most of them are very similar in nutritional properties. However protien sources can vary a lot, from a senior dog kibble at 18 percent protien, to shrimps getting on for 60 percent, however those two have far different densitys so adding the same amount doesn't affect the overall mix balance much. Still if you feed a dog kibble that ishhigh protien as it is dense you have to feed less than a low protien kibble.It sounds compkex but after a while it is straightforward. If your new to it asking someone who has a good feel for it is safer."

I also came across some people saying that they feed their rats soy, especially to new mothers with litters. However, I came across a shocking report which stated that in a laboratory setting where they fed an equal amount of rats soya milk, or just water, all those that had soya milk went on to develop mammary or other tumors. (Qin LQ, Xu JY, Tezuka H, Wang PY, Hoshi K., Commercial soy milk enhances the development of 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene-induced mammary tumors in rats, 2007)

I've also got a list saved of foods that you cannot feed to rats, as well as food that is really good for them, such as blueberry extract, strawberry extract, and spinach.

What do you feed your rat? And how would you feel about supplementing their diet with extracts which has been shown to increase cognitive and mental functions?
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