Rattie Dopers

I am very strongly considering acquiring a pair of rats. I am a major animal person and for most of the last year my only critter has been a betta. He’s a nice fishy but I want something with fur, dangit, and cats are out due to my SO’s allergies and I don’t think I’ve got a good situation to be taking on a dog. Hamsters/gerbils and the like are out; I haven’t had very good experiences with them. Also, caged critters don’t need a pet deposit!

I have heard many lovely things about rats, including here. I’ve been doing a good bit of reading online and believe I can make a couple of the little guys (I think I want males) very happy. I was out yesterday doing some preliminary pricing and figure I can afford the setup without major hassle.

So, is there anything anybody thinks I really, really need to know as a total rattie beginner? I know they need interaction, that’s part of the fun. Also why I’ll get two, so they can keep each other company. Any absolute no-nos? Any absolute yesses?

Before you actually fall in love with a ratty pet, please check whether your SO’s allergies extend to rats. Me, I am allergic to cats, to the point that they make me miserable, but rats, hamsters and guinea pigs bring me to my knees. It doesn’t matter if they are confined to one room in the house, the dander gets everywhere, and I can’t even be with a person who has been handling the animals.

Maybe you could go to a pet shop or breeder, or friend with rats, together with your SO and see what effect they have on him?

I do hope that they do nothing but make him want one too!

Allergies hadn’t occurred to me! I will definitely have to check that. Thanks.

We got a pair a few months ago, and they’re a lot of fun. In addition to interaction, they also need a lot of space to run around, and a lot of stuff to do. It is also fun for them if you have an open space they can run around in. We have a guest room that is pretty empty, so that works for us. We have cats, so we have to limit it to closed rooms, but they like to climb on us more than anything. The type of bedding you use is important. Rats can smell ratty pretty fast. We use Carefresh, but there are a lot of types out there. Don’t use pine shavings, the smell isn’t good for them. Any of the recycled-newspaper type litters is good. Kaytee makes one, and a few others. They are readily available in pet stores, we just go to Petsmart.

Our like cat toys to play with and push around and climb on, and they have a hanging parrot toy they climb on as well, and they like to sleep in a ferret hammock. I"m not sure if there are rat-specific toys available, but I don’t think they’re necessary.

Earlier threads with info:

Pet Rats - Tell Me About Them
Kitties and rats have I! (with pictures)
Pet Lovers: Help my kid pick a pet!
Rat Owners: Tips for a Newbie?

Thanks, tomndebb. I hope this thread wasn’t too much of a repetition! For some reason I didn’t even think to search for previous ones.

I will have to run the allergy thing by the SO once he gets home (I had to work today, so he went in to get some stuff done as well, and I seem to have beat him home) but otherwise he says he’s okay with the idea.

I’ve had rats for over a year now. They are vibrant, energetic, loving, and often comical pets with wonderful personalities. Males are more “lap rats”, content just to sit and be stroked. Females are more explorers. I have all females. The only thing to watch out for with females is that there is always a chance they could be pregnant when you get them (my girl Bettina gave birth to 9 pups a week after I got her - she didn’t even look pregnant). Otherwise, I’m very glad I got them and wouldn’t give them up for anything.

If you do get rats, I highly recommend Suebee’s Rat Diet:

http://www.ratsrule.com/diet.html

It can look a bit daunting at first, but get yourself 3-4 big gallon jars. Divide all the ingredients up evenly and mix them that way. Not only is it worlds better than the commercial “rat and mouse” mixes at the pet store, but it will be cheaper in the long run because you get a lot of volume for your money. The Nutro Lite dogfood is sold at Petsmart.

A lot of the commercial mixes use dried corn as a filler. There is some evidence that this contributes to the growth of tumors, which is already a problem for rats particularly in females. If you absolutely want to feed lab blocks, I recommend finding somewhere you can get Harlan Teklad in bulk – that’s what lab rats are fed and has been engineered for the best nutrition. I know one place that you can order it is Kim’s Ark rescue.

Rats are very short-lived creatures and you will get attached to them, they are like puppies, and they will break your heart one day. Moreso than dogs or cats or even humans, it’s essential that you care well for them and get them veterinary attention if they need it right away, because for them even an extra month is a long time.

Before you even bring your rats home, make sure you locate an exotic vet in your area. In some places vets that treat rats can be hard to find, and GOOD vets that treat rats and really know them are rare. You are best researching their health problems and familiarizing yourself with them, so you can catch things early. A respiratory infection that starts out needing only a simply course of antibiotics to cure can potentially become deadly or create permanent scar tissue within days. After that you are only delaying the inevitable.

Rats are absolutely wonderful pets, if you educate yourself about them and know what you’re getting into. They are playful, smart, quiet, small and easy to care for. Here are some links I recommend:

http://www.petratscanada.com/
http://www.ratfanclub.org/books.html
http://www.rmca.org/
http://www.ratsrule.com/
http://www.dapper.com.au/