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Rat Care Sheet - Print and Keep
10 years ago
RAT   CARE   INSTRUCTIONS
 
DON'T---- pick up a rat by it's tail        DO--use boths hands and support the back legs
DON'T--let males and females live together or play together. a mating can happen in a matter of seconds. there's always a chance that a female you are taking could be pregnant if it has been housed in the same cage with males.
DON'T-- breed your rats.  Or at least read up on lots of information
before you decide to take on this responsibility. and be sure there is a demand in your area so that they will find good homes. start with only 1 litter--not multiple pregnancies.
DON'T--have just one rat              DO------buy 2-3 same sex rats--they will groom, play, and sleep with each other keeping themselves company when you're not home. they need at least 1 hour of playtime with you each day. they are most active in the morning and later at night but will adjust their schedule to be up with you.they are very loving, devoted, and loyal pets and will enjoy their time spent with you. they can learn their names and enjoy being talked to.
DON'T--house them in an aquarium          DO----buy a cage for them to live in.  rats require good ventilation and approximately 2 cubic feet per rat.  1/2" bar spacing will keep young ratlets in. floors should be 1/2" x 1/2" spacing to prevent foot injuries and solid floors are best. wire can be covered with linoleum squares or plexiglass and fastened into place with cable ties. have nest boxes,hammocks,tubes, and toys in the cage. they love to chew up cardboard boxes--just replace at the end of the week.
DON'T--use pines or cedar bedding---the aromatic oils (phenols)  irritate the rats lungs and can cause sickness.
DO----use aspen (hardwood) shavings,carefresh ultra, eco bedding, newspaper (sheets or shredded)  flannel, fleece, cotton cloth pieces.
 DO---use something different for in the litter pan. rats can be litter pan trained. use alfalfa pellets, yesterday's news pellets, walnut nut, corn cob.
 DO--freeze bedding/litter for 3 days to kill any possible mites/bugs living in the package.
 DO--keep their cage as clean as possible.ammonia is bad for their lungs and urine is not good for their feet.it is best to change their litter box daily and to wipe clean their shelves---you can spray vinegar on the shelves and just wipe off with a paper towel. remove wet bedding as needed.
DO--a weekly major cleaning--same as above plus entire bedding change and cleaning everything--all toys, nest boxes, hammocks, etc.       remember if you can smell it, they can smells it 6 times worse.
DO--have water and dry rat mix food available at all times.having 2 smaller water bottles is good in case 1 bottle malfunctions ( no water coming out or it empties itself out). if possible avoid mixes with bht and ethyquinone as preservatives. it is possible to make your own mix with low sugar cereals, grains,dry tri color pasta, dried fruit,some sunflower seeds ( not too many) and a low protein dog food such as nutro lite ( about 20% of the mix). they also like to eat what you eat broccoli,corn, peas,cooked beans,cooked pasta,yogert,cottage cheese, oatmeal,cooked sweet potatoe, different baby foods,soy milk. just give small servings of this type of food and throw out any that's stashed the next morning.
DO-- seek out a rat friendly vet before you need one and put aside some money for emergency medical care. rats need vet care just like any other pet. 
these are just the basics---- excellent books can be bought from www.ratfanclub.org and there are several internet groups  that have a wealth of information. just search  "rats" to find most of the top websites and forums. there is plenty more to learn to keep  happy and healthy rats.
Excellent suggestions
10 years ago
Great notes!

Really great that you point out that rats shouldn't be keps as solitary pets.  I would amend the males/females rule just a bit to say that if they are neutered/spayed it's ok to have them together.  I've had fixed boys and natural girls living together for years and they all had a great time.  In fact, when we brought in new females our remaining male was much more nurturing to them than the established female.

And a personal preference on food - I tend to avoid anything with corn in it as studies have shown it containes chemicals that cause cancer in rats.  I know EVERYTHING contains chemicals that cause cancer in rats, but I try to be extra safe with known culprits. 
Great stuff
10 years ago

I agree with you completely. No corn, and neutered boys with intact girls is okay, too. AND no single rats if possible!

LOVE MY BABIES!!!!!   X<:3   )~~~~~

re: single rats
8 years ago

Our rat is a single rat because her sister died.  It was so great seeing the two of them together, grooming, sleeping, and playing.  I know it is best to have two rats together but I was concerned about bringing another rat in to live with Josie.  Josie seems happy, she gets a ton of attention from my family and mostly from me.  At night when I read she lays on my chest and grinds her teeth.  I love it.  we have her cage in the great room, just off the kitchen so she gets to watch us all the time.  Our new kitten sleeps on top of her cage, only while I am watching them.   So should I get another rat?  If I do how do I introduce them?  I only have one cage, a rather big cage and I don;t really want to spend a bunch of money getting another one.  Or would it be best to wait until after Josie goes to heaven?   

Hmmm, that's a hard one
8 years ago
Different rats react differently when you introduce a new rat. I know that two rats I've had that were previously alone for the first year of their lives were very, VERY happy to have company and there was non of that annoying territorial stuff. Other times, when I've introduced a new rat to an existing group the alpha of the group gets very territorial. It's taken me as much as a month of daily visits to get them used to one another. The one time I introduced a new rat to a situation like yours it really wasn't that hard of a transition - just some kicking and squeaking for a day - but again every rat is different.

If she seems happy with the attention she gets from you guys and she's very old it might be ok to have her alone. Just be sure to groom that tough-to-reach spot between her shoulders for her!  If you do decide to have another join her you'll have to have a separate cage at least for a few weeks during quarentine - maybe someone could loan you one? There is a great article on introducing rats at http://ratguide.com/care/behavior/introducing_rats.php .

How does she feel about the kitten? I know some people have had cats and rats that were good friends because it started out when the cat was young.
8 years ago
Maggie, the kitten and the dogs all love Josie, they are facinated by her as is our full grown cat.  I would never leave them all together by them selves but they all really seem enamored with one another.