So, I went and got myself two pet rats. I have a couple questions.

I’ve had the little guys for about an hour now. I’m wondering how long I should leave them be to get adjusted to being moved. They have been curled up in the corner of their cage since I set it up. I just put a couple of slices of squash in there and one of them seems quite pleased. He took both of the pieces for himself. So I dropped another piece right on top of the other ones head. He’s nibbling on it, but not with as much enthusiasm. Now, after all of two minutes they are done eating (they didn’t eat it all) and are back to napping.

These are plain old white rats, males, young, but I don’t know how old. There bodies are about 3 inches long if that helps. I got them from a pet shop (yes, that worries me too). I’d like to hear your experiences with new rats, and getting them comfy in their new home. And I need name suggestions too!

I’ve never had to take care od rats right from the pet store, but I did get a hamster once, and also took care of a friend’s rat that was almost two years old (so very wel adjusted.)

As far as my advice, get them things to play with. A wood block or two is great. They love to chew, and wood is the best thing (and indeed, need to chew or their teeth get too long.) You can get a wheel, but don’t get a wire one, get a solid plastic one. Be advised, though, that when they get full size (which is 5-7 inches w/out tail) they will probably be too large to use a wheel. But I noticed stewart (the rat I took care of) loved to nap in the wheel. In that vein, a hammock can be good, too. It took my hamster a while to get acclimated and friendly, but then, hamsters are naturally more aggressive and pissy than rats. It shouldn’t take long before you can pick them up and carry them around on your shoulder. Make sure to touch them every day, in a good way. Pet them gently, give them a treat or two, so they associated you with good. And to pick them up, try not to grab, instead, lay your palm flat and let them crawl onto it.

As for names, I suggest wingus and dingus.

Thanks bouv. I’m sure I’ll be showering the little guys with toys. I’m such an animal Sap. I’m sitting here with about $9.00 worth of rats, and about $50.00 of rat accessories! When will the madness end?

Just out of curiosity, what kind of cage do they have? It’s pretty important that the floor of their living enviroment is a solid surface of some kind, NOT wires.
I’m so happy for you, enjoy your new ratsies! Just remember, they’re wily little things. One of my old ones figured out a way to get in and out of his cage and would smeak out at night and nibble on people’s toes. Mom was not amused.

karomon it is a wire cage, but with a solid plastic bottom that is about 4" deep.

One of the little fellows is moving around checking things out. I am worried about the other one. I’m hoping that he is just shy or younger maybe, and not ready to explore.

I’ve had great success with rats from pet stores. They are smart and gentle. They will adjust quickly to their new home–a day at most.

Rats need something to do. A wheel to run on is good. They need hard food to keep their incisor teeth short. You may have to clip the teeth (which is easy). For a treat, rats love dried fruit.

I’ve had rats twice. Two rats (female) both times. They didn’t live more than a few years, though.

Quick question: What kind of bedding are you using?

Cedar bedding, which used to be popular, is BAD! It can cause respiratory problems for the little fellas. Pine is OK, but in general, I would go for the recycled stuff. It looks like little bits of cardboard, and that’s basically what it is, but much softer and more absorbant. And remember to change the bedding weekly, and to give the cage a good cleaning (with mild detergent and warm water) about 2/month.

The bedding looks like some sort of paper to me. Sort of what you might end up with if you put a cardboard box in a blender with some water and then dried it out. I have read that cedar and other stuff like that is bad for them.

Dang I want to haul them out and play, but I think they need some time before I start doing that.

Former Rat Momma checking in.

The kind of bedding you’re using sounds fine. One brand name you might keep in mind for future purchases is CareFresh.

Rats in general don’t do well on wheels - they have a tendency to catch their tails in them. I know there are rat-specific wheels that don’t have wires, but neither of mine were even remotely interested in such a thing. Rodney hated the giant hamster ball toy and just sat in there shaking and pooping - but Milo loved it and would roll all over the house in the thing. The cloth hammock things are good for a short time, but rats will chew ANYTHING and I never had a hammock that lasted more than a week. I’d also say be wary of anything fabric in general - a loose thread that gets pulled on can strangle a rat - sadly this is experience talking, as BOTH my ratbabies choked to death on a bit of ribbon :frowning:

Foodwise, remember that rats are scavengers and will eat almost anything. DO NOT let them have anything with onions or garlic - that’s toxic to rats. Mine loved bits of pizza crust, though. I really recommend the rat pellet food for a generally balanced diet (Kaytee makes one kind that was their “staple” food) but rats need some variety, too - fresh fruit and veggies, “yogie” snacks, dry noodles, shredded wheat pieces. Not too much on the Cheerios or other processed cereals, or crackers, because they tend to be a little high in salt. GOOD quality dog biscuits make a good rat snack, but not too often, 'cuz the bonemeal in them can be too rich.

Get your ratties used to your hands, and be gentle with them and they’ll be gentle back to you. One little tip - feed them snacks from the flat of your hand, rather than sticking your fingers through the cage bars. Once they get the idea that fingers sometimes hold snacks, they will want to nibble your fingers when you AREN’T holding snacks.

Ours loved hiding in (and later when they got too big) shredding toilet paper tubes. They will need something hard to chew on - you can buy wood bits specifically made for that, since you don’t want them eating treated or varnished wood. If they don’t get enough chewing, their teeth can overgrow and injure them.

Good luck, and congrats on your new ratbuddies!

Our rats all loved their wheel.

You didn’t ask, but if you’re looking for names:

Templeton (the greedy rat from Charlotte’s Web)
Adam (the king rat, the original sire, from Clavell’s King Rat)

Both males, natch. And both (eventually) got to be very fat/powerful, and the undisputed kings of their obscure little domains…

Thank you everyone!

They are doing better today. Last night I heard them bouncing around having fun. Now they are being a bit quiet again, but I’ve got their cage out here with me and the rest of my pets so everybody is peaking in at them.

Scrivener, those are good names. I’d like them to be undisputed kings. They’d probably just be happy with the fat part! I was thinking of naming one after whoever it is that said “you dirty rat” (I have to go google it to find out) and the other… maybe Dirty Rat.

The store-bought foods are alright, but most of them are pretty much just repacked hamster food, and don’t really meet rat’s nutritional needs. If you go to my pets page, there are a ton of really good links about rats down at the bottom just below the pics of my girls:

The sites linked off my pets page all have excellent FAQs that can answer almost any question that possibly arises. I did a buttload of reading and research before I got my first pair, and chose the sites I linked to carefully.

I feed my rats (5 girls) the SueBee diet. ( - suebee's rat diet) It’s a diet of whole grains and a low-calorie dog food, along with some cereals and a bit of seeds. If you feed labblocks, Kim’s Arc Rescue sells Harlan Teklad blocks, which are the closest to a perfect rat diet you can get – that’s what most labs feed their rats. Most of the breeders I know feed a mix of the lab blocks and variations on the SueBee diet. (Aside: I’ve found the SueBee mix to actually be cheaper than the pre-packed mixes that rely too heavily on seeds and processed dried corn product that is suspected to contribute to cancer.) You want to avoid giving them too much foods high in fat, like pumpkin or sunflower seeds, and foods high in protein. Too much protein gives them “hot spots” and they will itch themselves and possibly cause skin abrasions or an abscess if it gets infected. I haven’t heard about onions or garlic being toxic to them, but I do know that it’s not safe to give males certain kind of citrus fruits because it can cause (I think) kidney failure. You can search on those sites and several of them have a list of no-no food for ratties.

I do share my dinner with my rats frequently. Bits of salad, a tiny piece of french fry, a corner of toast… they have a habit of lining up in a row by their cage door when I eat, and will stare you down to rival any dog begging for food. This is probably my biggest weakness… they only live 2-3 years. I feel guilty not letting them have a wee bit of the yummy stuff and enjoy it while they can.

Find yourself a vet that is knowledgable in caring for rats. They can be hard to find, so it’s good to already know where you will take them in case of emergency. Finding a 24 hour emergency clinic that can accomidate a rat is also good. Rats have very fast metabolisms and can be prone to respiratory infections, and things can go from curable to very, very bad within a matter of hours or days.

Hardwood shavings like aspen are OK for bedding, I prefer Carefresh or Yesterday’s News. My ratties tended to sneeze too much from the aspen and it’s more messy. The wire cages are perfectly fine, as long as the bottom of the cage has a solid surface. You don’t want them walking on wire ALL the time, but the shelves being wire are fine as long as you keep the cage clean. I change bedding and do a wipe-down once a week, and about once a month or so I put the cage in the bathtub and wash it with a sponge really well with antibacterial dishwasher detergent. My rats are not big chewers, you will find their personalities vary widely and some will destroy everything you give them, and some not. I have noticed that the more time I spend with them, the less they chew and the more they beg to be let out of their cage. My big cage has a ferret hammock in it, and in the smaller cage I make my own hammocks out of felt squares. You can get them 7/$1 at the fabric store – cut a slit in each corner, get some thick cable ties, and use those to fix it to the cage. If you have a problem with them chewing it, you can stop giving them. Generally they don’t try to eat stuff they chew, they’re just tearing things up to “nest”. You can adjust their toys accordingly.

Cheap toys I give them: cardboard paper tubes, empty cardboard oatmeal cannisters, little cardboard boxes. These things they can destroy and then you can just pitch it when it’s just a mess of cardboard bits and/or stinky. I make them litter pans out of the little ziploc throwaway pans from the grocery store. I put more bedding in one on the upper shelf, they will typically use it, if it’s there.

Eeeerm… I think I’ve written way too much. Can you tell I love rats? Do check out the links on my page, I found them very helpful when I was getting started and I think you will too, and of course if you have any questions I will be happy to help. If you have an LJ the community ratties is also an excellent source of help and information. :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

jinwicked thanks for all the info. I’ll go check out your links.

You mention making a litter pan for them. I had not thought of that. I just assumed they’d go where ever they chose. Do they like to have a litter pan? Do you put bedding in the one ment for litter? I’m assuming the one on the upper shelf is for sleeping in?

Ahhh, so many questions!