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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As you can see by my last post, we got 2 young rats at a pet store 10 days ago. We were told they were both "males." They are 5-6 weeks old.

This is our 2nd pair of rats. They are blue dumbos and we are in love.

I've noticed today that one rat's testicles are clearly descended and the other has no noticeable testicles. Now, we're freaking out. I've read a lot of stuff online about sexing them, and I just can't tell. If I had to guess, I'd say one--our favorite--is female. They both seem to have penises in the same place, and I can't find any nipples on the "female". Is it possible that the testicles just haven't descended? They aren't from the same litter.

I'm totally freaking out for two reasons:

1. They seem to make a really happy pair and we love them. If one is female, they will have to be split up, and we will likely have to give our favorite rat back. We just can't have 2 pairs with 2 separate habitats.

2. What if one is already pregnant?

PLEASE HELP ASAP. Any advice is appreciated. I have to work all day tomorrow, but plan to take them to the vet on Saturday, if I can get in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I just looked again with my wife, and we are almost certain Pancake is a girl. I felt/saw some nipples.

I'm totally heartbroken. I'm in love with these rats.

What are our options? I can't do anything until Saturday, as we both work all day tomorrow. Should I separate them now? They are going to be so scared and depressed.

One will have to go back. Pancake--the female--is our favorite. But we've never had female rats. What are their temperaments? If we took a boy back and had a female pair, are they as likely to be social as males?

I'm so, so sad.
 

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Just so I understand, you got two six-ish week old male rats. Now you brought home two more six-ish week old rats, one male, and one possible female?

Separate your 'female' until you can get the four of them properly sexed Saturday. They're all young enough that re-introductions won't be a problem even if they need to be separated for a few weeks.

You also don't necessarily have to get rid of your female. You might consider spaying or neutering. I keep mixed sex colonies with neutered males. Male rats can be neutered as young as 8-10 weeks, and the cost varies from 30-100 dollars per rat. Female rats can also be spayed as young as 3-4 months old, and that usually runs between 60-150 per rat, and also has the additional benefit of preventing mammary tumors. ( I just had a heartbreaking experience with one of my females who had rapidly growing reoccurring mammary tumors. It was a drain on my emotions, her health, and my wallet. If I ever have it to do again, I'm spaying my females early, or at least at the occurrence of the first tumor. )

If she is pregnant, you can find that out too when you go to the vet, and an espay is an option. This will run something like 200-300 dollars.

To me though, the cheapest thing, assuming she's not pregnant, is to keep two colonies. I have three happy colonies kept in one corner of my living room in a space no bigger than 2 x 3 feet. After the initial cage purchase, it's no more expensive and only a little more personal time than keeping one colony half the size.

If you are looking for tips, and costs etc, I've pulled together a bunch of resources on my blog here at Paw Talk. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'm sorry if I wasn't clear. I'm very upset.

We HAD 2 males (3 years ago).

We now HAVE 1 male and 1 female (that we assumed were both male). I'm pretty sure the female is already pregnant.

If they were kept together as a mixed sex pair, would that cause any additional complications? Would they both need to be spayed/neutered? Or only one?

And, if the female is already pregnant, what are our options?
 

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Replying to your second post:

I love both males and females. Females tend to be busier and playful, and stink much less than males. They often stay silly and fun like juvenile rats their whole lives, while males mellow out and get very lazy. Over all, there's little difference between the two though. I wouldn't let lack of experience deter you from keeping them. You'd be missing out on some specialness.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Does anyone know of any vet in Chicago that does espay for female rats? (That's would take care of the pregnancy and spay at once, right?)

Should the male be neutered too, in that case?

We have an exotics vet for our bunnies, but he's very pricey. We payed $400/each for them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Sorry, just wanting to clarify.

So, if we got this "espay" for Pancake--the female--we could keep them both together? And, chances are, they would stay bonded?
 

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No worries. Just catching up to your posts and answering your questions: (as of post 7)

I don't know of any Chicago vets. In my city, I got a list of vets and started down the line calling them. I asked if they had an exotics vet that had experience with rats, and if not, who they would recommend, and if they did, I asked what they would ballpark me for a rat neuter. They were always reluctant to quote prices over the phone until I made it clear that I wasn't trying to nail them down, but just getting a ballpark loose idea of their pricing range.

As for espay: Yes, that would take care of both the pregnancy, and the sterilization for your female. It's basically a hysterectomy while she's pregnant.

Once she's spayed, she'll be sterile immediately, and if she got along with your male before she was spayed, she'll get along with him after. They're more intelligent than other rodents (and many other pets). They will take a liking to someone and it will be for life.

If she's not pregnant, and you can't afford a spay (though in the end that would still be much cheaper and less heartbreaking than repeated tumor removals from an intact female), you can get your male neutered, and likewise they'll still get along. In fact the easiest introductions are between neutered males and females.

You will only need to get one of them speutered. The other can stay intact. Though there's a chance you may eventually need to get the intact one speutered too. This is because occasionally males hit adulthood and if they have poor breeding, may develop hormonal aggression that is usually curbed by neutering, or as I said earlier, your intact female may start developing mammary tumors later.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you. I have been sitting here crying for an hour, thinking there was no alternative to taking the female back to that terrible petstore.

I'm going to call our exotics vet tomorrow and, provided it doesn't cost $300/each, I'm likely going to have both spayed/neutered. THANK YOU.
 

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Oh btw, I've got one exotics vet who works in a ritzy side of town and who is highly recommended for rats. He quoted me $400 for a tumor removal. A regular spay would have been 700 dollars. The vet I actually use charged me $50 for a tumor removal. He's also more willing to work with me on prices etc. So it's well worth your effort to shop and ask around.
 

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And you're very welcome. Don't panic. You really do have a lot of options open to you, especially if you are financially able to provide proper vet care. Go to the goosemoose forum and do a thread search for chicago vets. If anyone has the skinny it would be the folks on goosemoose.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Had a $700 tumor removal off one of our boys from the last pair.

Hard pill to swallow, but I'm accepted responsibility for them, and I want to do right by them.
 

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It's always tough. But, don't feel like you have to use the one vet. It was amazing the price variation between vets, and the quality of care and knowledge wasn't horribly different. In fact, while the quality was higher at the ritzy vet because at those prices it aught to be, at the less expensive vet, he had twice the experience with rats so I trusted him more. Go figure. LOL


I found an Illinois rat vet list for you just now btw from The Rat Report last updated this month. The dates below each name lists when the vet was last recommended/added to the list and the person who added it so you could possibly email them to ask if/why they recommend that particular vet. This should cut down on your redundant calling to vets who know nothing about rats at all:

http://www.ratfanclub.org/vetref.html

Dr. Ron Durante
Algonquin Animal Clinic
10412 Rt. 31
Algonquin, IL 60102
847-658-3626
(2005—Leslie, [email protected])

Dr. Byron de la Navarre
Animal House of Chicago, Complete Vet. Care
2752 West Lawrence Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60625
(773) 878-8002
[email protected], www.animalhouseofchicago.com
(2002—Tracy Henske, 2004— Julie Davis, [email protected])

Dr. Susan Liszewski
TLCFirstAnimalHospital6468 N Milwaukee AveChicago, IL60631Tel.: (773) 631-0706
www.tlcfirst.com
[email protected]

(2009)
Dr. Lex Bonam
Arboretum View Animal Hospital
2551 Warrenville Road
Downers Grove, IL 60515
630-963-0424
Owns and loves 2 rats!
(2007)

Dr. Susan Cechner
Elburn Animal Hospital
403 E. North St.
Elburn, IL 60119.
(630) 365-9599
(2007—Jennie Kanyok, Veterinary Nurse)

Dr. Robert Ness
Exotic Animal Wellness Center
1007 Maple Ave
Lisle, IL 60532
(630) 737-0077
(2008—Sherie Haze)

Dr. Stephen Barten
Dr. Eve Cheung
Dr. Susan Sneed
Vernon Hills Animal Hospital
1260 S. Butterfield Road
Mundelein, IL 60060
847-367-4070
www.vhah.com
(2011—Sara Brugam)

All doctors
Prairie Oak Veterinary Center
207 B Landmark Dr.
Normal, IL 61761
(309) 454-8606
(2004—Mary, [email protected] )

Dr. Odem
Preiser Animal Hospital
2975 N. Milwaukee Ave
Northbrook, IL 60062-7117
847-827-5200
(2004—Beth Kennedy, [email protected])

Dr. Durst
Hillcrest Animal Hospital
227N. Alpine
Rockford, Illinois 61107
(815) 398-9313
(2005—Jess, [email protected])

Dr. Mikel Pulins
Animal Clinic of Romeoville
334 N. Independence Blvd.
Romeoville, IL 60446
815-886-0404
(2012—Kerstin Morse)

Dr. Jeff Merrill
Companion Animal Medical Services
P. O. Box 3808
St. Charles, IL 60174
630-430-2531
[email protected]
(2002--Janice Klosowski)

Midwest Bird & Exotic Animal Hospital
1923 S Mannheim Rd
Westchester, IL 60154
(708) 453-8181
www.midwestexotichospital.com
(1999-Pat Babyar)

Dr. Kenneth Welle
All Creatures Animal Hospital
708 Killarney
Urbana IL
(217) 328-4143
Special Pocket Pet Program

Dr. Kurt Thurman
Caring Hands Animal Hospital
1704 Philo Rd
Urbana, Illinois 61801
(217) 328-5350
(2004—Liz Nowack, [email protected])
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thank you! You've really been a great help. I'm going to call all of these in the morning, and I'll post an update.

One more question, actually: will they be too young--at just 6 weeks--for the neuter/espay?
 

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Male rats can be neutered as young as 8-10 weeks. Female rats can also be spayed as young as 3-4 months old. :) The only reason you'd want to get your female neutered tomorrow is if she comes up pregnant. They'll probably advise you further on that part of it better than I can though.
 

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Thank you! You've really been a great help. I'm going to call all of these in the morning, and I'll post an update.

One more question, actually: will they be too young--at just 6 weeks--for the neuter/espay?

IF they are truly 5-6 weeks old, the female is very unlikely to be pregnant. Pet stores notoriously sell them to you younger than you think, so you can put up pics for us and we can "age" your babies?

Separate of course, and your best bet is to get a digital scale to weigh your girl daily. Scales are almost a necessity for good rat owners now (keeping an eye on their weight gain/loss, weighing for accurately medicating, etc. If you weigh a possibly pregnant girl every day at the same time, the more experienced of us can help you figure out what is "baby growing up" rather than "pregnant baby" weight gain.

Most vets won't spay until a girl is at least 200 grams...mine won't until 250 grams.

I adore mixed sex colonies (1 fixed) as you also get the best of both worlds, the laid back, solid squishy-ness of the boys, and the run-by affection and activity of the girls. My best and happiest colonies are mixed sexes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Okay, folks, here's an update:

I spent all of Friday morning calling the various vets in Chicagoland and pricing e-spays. Here's the results of the places that do it for rats:

Chicago Exotics: $225
Terry Animal Hospital: $500
Animal House of Chicago: $450
TLC First Animal Hospital: $300
Arboretum View Animal Hospital: $450
Prieser Animal Hospital: $400

Because they are close to my home and had the earliest consult appointment (tomorrow morning), I'm going with TLC First Animal Hospital.

I take both Mooshoo (male) and Pancake (female) for an initial appt. tomorrow morning. I've spoken with the vet, explained the situation, and she seems great. She did say, however, that there are two factors that would prohibit our doing an espay: if Pancake's pregnancy is too far along or if she's too small in weight. I appreciate the vet being honest.

So, there's a chance we'll have to go through with the pregnancy. I'll let you all know tomorrow.

If that does happen, here are two initial concerns:

1. Will she be able to "re-bond" with Mooshoo after having been separated from him for the birth. (We'll be getting her spayed after she has the babies.)

2. If we have to get rid of the babies--which we will--will Pancake resent us? Will it change her behavior? Right now, she is very sweet.

Thanks, again, for all of your help! I'm sure that--especially if we have these babies--I'll be posting A LOT more. :)
 

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Lets wait to see if you are able to e-spay her first then we can answer all your pregnancy/bonding questions once we know the verdict.
 
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