View Full Version : I got a pet rat!
11-17-2000, 10:36 PM
So, technically, in the dorms, we aren't allowed to keep any pets besides fish... but i put him in a fish tank :) that counts for something, right? At first, i thought of naming him "Fish," but that just wasn't right. He has too much charm and sophistication to be called "Fish" His name is D'Artagnan. He is beautiful! He is still a baby, about 4 inches long (not including the tail). He is grey with a white underbelly and pretty little white paws. He's smart, too. I am teaching him tricks. I am sure in time, my roommate will just adore him ;)
Can anyone offer any tips or rat-related antidotes?
11-17-2000, 10:43 PM
I once had a rat named "Franklin Delano Rat". There is a long story behind this.
He was a good rat. I like rats. You will enjoy yours!
11-18-2000, 01:15 AM
what? doesn't anybody like rats?
11-18-2000, 01:26 AM
My cat is quite fond of rats, but perhaps not exactly in the way you mean.
11-18-2000, 04:09 AM
get him some toys- rats are real smart, and they get bored easily. Wheels are Ok for young rats- but older ones won't use them- but they like to climb- get a couple of those wood bird ladder.
Don't spoil him with too many treats. Rats can & do eat almost anything, but too much empty calories are not good for rats either. Stick to Purina rat Chow, give him all he wants, plus a bit more- then an occasional treat. They LOOOVE P-nut butter. Once in a while a carrot is good- if they won't eat it- try with some P-nut butter on it.
Male rats smell- well, their urine does. So, instead of wood chips, get a good pine or other plant based non-clumping cat litter- about 2" deep. He can dig, and have fun, and the smell is absorbed.
11-18-2000, 05:27 AM
Rats and Prairie (sp?) Dogs are the best small mammal pets you can keep. Smart, clean and get ridiculously tame. My grandkids keep rats.
Uh, I keep snakes........
11-18-2000, 11:35 AM
I used to keep rats, the pensioned-off participants in an experiment. They were very cute until the males went through puberty and began to smell. I wish I had known about the cat litter then.
Also, a woman in my pagan group used to keep a pet rat named Ophelia, whom she would bring to circles. That rat would perch on her like a parrot and run in and out of her sleeves. It was very cute. Unfortunately, Ophelia passed on some time ago.
11-18-2000, 12:27 PM
I've also got an outlaw boy rat named Sammie (previous pet was a dog named Dino...going for the whole 'rat pack' eventually. all I need is a Frank). I live in a no pets apartment building, but I figure he's not a pet, he's vermin that happens to live in a cage in my room.
He does get a bit stinky sometimes, but I've found Care Fresh bedding seems to be great at absorbing odors, and doesn't cause respiratory problems like wood shavings (**especially cedar**). The upside to having a boy is that they tend to be more cuddly, and less bitchy.
Like Daniel said, rats do get bored easy, so make sure you take him out to play often, and try to socialize him around as many people as you can while he's still young, other wise he may end up a fraidy cat. I've found that with a little forethought and an incognito carrier for your boy to hide in when he's tired or scared, you can take a rat just about anywhere. (movie theater not recommended) I've become known as The Girl With The Rat around my neighborhood, and have made several acquaintances through my sweet boy.
If you're going to take your boy out and about, you'll have to make sure he's fairly well 'shoulder trained' before you head out in to the real wqorld. basically, put him on your shoulder, stay upright (until he gets the hang of it) and keep your arms by your sides, so he's restricted to your shoulders. If he starts making his way down your arm or shirt, gently put him back on your shoulder. you should let him jump. once. that should be all he needs to learn not to do it again. Rats unfortunately have horrid vision, and tend to try to jump impossible distances on occasion.
go give your boy a scratch behind the ear for me, birdie :)
11-18-2000, 12:48 PM
Do not feed him junk food and sugar. Rat's have a serious sweet tooth. Remember that many animal psychologist consider rats to be smarter than both cats and dogs. Much smarter. Do not ever leave him without access to fresh water, bottled preferably. Here is the best rat link (http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bclee/rats.html) that i've found on the 'Net. Enjoy. :cool:
11-18-2000, 12:53 PM
I used to think rats were cute and they do make good pets. Then, a few years ago, I had a huge rat problem in my house. I'm talking about ugly, roof rats the size of small cats. I really tried to ignore them until one day I had a bunch of friends over for a BBQ, and a few rats scrambled around my guests and a baby. It was war.
I placed a few rat traps in the crawlspace and the next day, every trap had a huge rat! Disgusting! I bought more traps, and they were happy to stick thier huge, hairy necks in them. I ended up killing 18 rats over a 2 week period. I then put out rat poison and would find dead rats in my back yard and my swimming pool. Every day, dead rats, dead rats, dead rats....
I can't even think of having a rat as a pet!
11-18-2000, 03:10 PM
WillyK, that's horrible. The last place we rented had a problem with rats. The suckers were chewing holes in my walls to get into the house. We would repair the hole, only to find another one in a different wall a day or two later. Rat poisons and traps killed a bunch of these suckers, but it was just a bad infestation. I kept my house pretty clean too...we just had the misfortune of living behind a factory with a lot of neglected dumpsters sitting behind it. The rats were breeding in the dumpsters and then coming over and hiding in my crawlspace in the winters (looking for warmth, I'm assuming). We ended up moving after just a year because I was afraid the kids were going to get bit and end up with rabies or something.
11-18-2000, 03:25 PM
Unfortunatly, I've pretty well cleaned out my rodent infestation. I trapped them - never used poisons - froze them to kill any paracites, then thawed and fed them to the snakes. Now, I have to buy rats (frozen and vacumn packed from an outfit in TX. Hmm. There's a thought there).
Some people don't know when they're well off.
11-18-2000, 03:57 PM
My ex-gf kept a couple of rats, they really are the cutest little things. I would have got a couple myself, but I ended up with a kitten quite suddenly.
I miss the little cuties.
11-18-2000, 06:46 PM
I, too, had an outlaw dorm rat. Several of them, actually...they fed my outlaw dorm python. ;)
Seriously, though, I had rats as classroom pets for three years. Every year we'd have a different rat, then in June I'd raffle her off (always had females; males, in my feeder-rat experience, tended to be far stinkier and nippier) to kids whose parents had given them permission. Last year, however, was IT for rats as classroom pets...
Isabella, as is the case with most rats, was very clever. One weekend, she dicovered a way to sneak out of her cage. Of course, she couldn't figure out how to sneak back in, so she made a nest in our book box--turning one corner into her rapidly filled outhouse--and chewed everything. I threw away a dozen books, several sound and word cards (expensive learning materials, folks), and otherwise spent the rest of the morning cleaning up after her weekend At Large. She'd also chewed up the electric cord to the aquarium light, eaten through one bag of fish food and consumed most of it, and eaten the tags off Beanie Babies that had sat on top of the fish tank. That was it. I kept her around 'til the end of the school year, but that was my last rat mascot.
We have Cornelius, the corn snake, now. He rules! (Eventually he'll eat rats, too, but he's only 10 months old and is still on small mice currently.)
No escapes, no chewing, no stink. He's a great boy! :)
11-18-2000, 07:38 PM
I've not had one lately, but had pet rats from age 11 to 22. My introduction was to my biologist dad bringing home a breeding pair of lab rats from the Psych Dept. in order to feed the boa constrictor he'd brought back from Peru. I used to rescue the "runts", and raise them as pets.
At this point, since there seems to be a bit of confusion; the rats sold as pets are not the same as wild rats. It's the same difference as mice sold as pets and wild mice. The true difference is probably that wild rats are smart enough to never tolerate a cage.
Tame rats are great pets. I've had gerbils, hamsters, mice, chinchillas, etc., as pets(well, the biologist parent thang again), but rats are by far the most endearing critters. I agree with Shama's shoulder training. They really like to ride around with you, and will nibble on your ear as a sign of affection. That's a weird thing to many folks, but sweet when you get used to it.
The Wheel: It works as an exercise aid when they're small, but as they grow, it's really uncomfortable for their long tails.
For exercise, just carry them around in the house and let them explore. In my experience, they keep coming back to check on where you are, so never wander far off.
On, then, to the Cat thing. My cats never messed with my rats because they were raised with it being Off Limits. I don't know how that would work with an older cat.
My last pet rat, Sam, was kept in an aquarium tank on my dresser. He had the endearing habit of poking up through the wire mesh on top of his cage, escaping, and gathering up the odd earring or four to festoon her nest with. I'd just let em lie til cage cleaning time came.
Anyhoo, they're very smart, misunderstood critters, and I hope you have as expanding experience as I have with 'em.
11-18-2000, 08:17 PM
As usual, [b]ellele[b] nailed it for practicalities, wisdom and heart.
First and foremost, play w/ your critter. It's a living thing. Whistle, cuddle, romp, live w/ him/her. They're very bright, responsive animals--and only as dirty as life forces them to be, btw.
Make sure the cage is dry and well cleaned. An aquarium is fine, just keep the newspaper/cedar chips clean. And be sure to have a generous water bottle cleaned and topped off. (This isn't tough; I suspended one by a bent hanger.) But clean water and food are musts. Tidbits of lettuce, carrot, etc. are blissful treats.
Mostly, the little critter wants what you want: shelter, water, food, company...they are ridiculously easy to care for, but socialize only as much as you give.
Respect for making a friend,
11-19-2000, 07:10 PM
Thanks for all your advice. I am shoulder-training him now, giving him chocolate chips and rat treats (honey coated seeds and veggies) for good behavior. I think we've bonded already. :) He seems to be a good judge of character. He won't go near my roommate's friend Tara no matter how she coaxes, and i happen to know that she is particularly evil. My girlfriend's roommate bought two male rats (i started a trend!) and they are always play-fighting... at least i think they are playing...
D'Artagnan and i keep similar hours, so i spend hours playing with him. I can't wait until i get an apartment and can give him a bigger cage to play in, with a more elaborate playground than a red wooden box with holes and two toilet paper rolls. Only the best for my rat!
11-19-2000, 09:25 PM
Birdie, I may be wrong, but I think that chocolate may actually be toxic to rats. I'd stop with the chocolate chips until you're sure.
And of course she doesn't like Tara. There's something not quite right with her, even if she isn't part demon. Which reminds me, has anyone seen Amy (now a rat) lately?
11-19-2000, 09:45 PM
I just want to say this is a really interesting thread for me! I have a girly sorta thing about rats, even though I love animals in general, but I've never known anyone who kept one as a pet so I've never had a chance to make friends with one. Honestly, with you guys talking about how smart and affectionate they can be, I'd consider getting one if I hadn't already reached my pet limit for this apartment.
Congrats on your new friend, Birdie!
The Asbestos Mango
11-19-2000, 10:28 PM
I have this sudden desire now to go out and buy myself a pet rat, but I already have a bird and Mom has a cat, and Mom says two pets in the house is enough.
11-19-2000, 10:43 PM
TheNerd -- i've checked several web sites and the general consensus is that chocolate is toxic when given in large doses, but it okay in small amounts. Several chips a day won't hurt, but i don't feed him that much anyway. Chocolate is only given rarely, when he deserves an extra special treat. Also, milk chocolate is okay, but not baker's chocolate or dark chocolate. Thanks for the concern though :)
11-19-2000, 10:53 PM
Good Lord this brings back memories.
Long ago in a different life I ended up with a white lab rat named Sheila. She was intelligent, curious, loving, curious, cuddly and did I say curious?
You have a mammal. A very smart furry mammal. Treat her with respect and love.
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