View Full Version : First time rat owner, looking for tips and advice

10-08-09, 09:36 pm
Hi all,

I got my first 2 rats yesterday. I'm a first time rat owner so if anyone has any tips or advice on what they like, healthy treats absolute no nos for food please share.

I have 2 boys, they're almost 3 months old (called DJ and Joe). They're brothers from the same litter but have very different personalities from the 24 hrs I've spent with them, DJ's active and very enquiring where as Joe's a sleepy head who likes to nest.

I've had hamsters and mice before (and obviously guinea pigs) but never rats so learning new things.

10-08-09, 10:28 pm
Read over this site: ratsrule.com (http://www.ratsrule.com/)

It has a lot of good info on ratties. I am a rattie lover myself although I am now down to my lone boy Sam. I lost 2 of my boys within 2 weeks of each other and that was very recently.

I've found some of the best treats to be those Gerber (and other brands) of baby puffs you would find in the baby food aisle. They have several different flavors. They are extremely low in sugars. Some people give the baby yogurt drops, but I stay away from those as rats are lactose intolerant just like pigs.

I feed high quality dog food and my own variations of Suebee's mix. Sometimes I give Harlan Teklad lab blocks but they don't eat them too well.

Socialization is very important. An hour a day with each so they get accustomed to you.

If there is anything specific you'd like to know, don't hesitate to ask. I've had rats for about 3 1/2-4 years now. I've had both males and females. I'm still looking for 2-3 boys to adopt so my poor old man Sam won't be so alone.

10-08-09, 11:45 pm
A rat's diet should consist of a high quality lab block along with fresh veggies and fruits. You should not buy any food that includes seeds, dried corn or ethoxyquin. Mine really liked dried pasta and banana chips. They do not need hay but may enjoy wheat grass from time to time. Some rats are prone to obesity so foods that are very high in sugar should be avoided.

Respiratory infections, abcesses and tumors are some common ailments that affect rats. Maintaining a clean, dust and phenol-free environment is very important for the health of their respiratory systems (no cedar or pine bedding). Of course, be sure to provide them with plenty of out of cage time. Some rats will run on exercise wheels but they should not use hamster balls. Rats need stimulating toys, horizontal cage bars and multiple levels for climbing and cozy hammocks to lie around in :)

10-12-09, 08:02 pm
Thanks for the advice guys.

The boys have settled down now and have plently of time out the cage. I've popped in their cage, tubes, an excercise wheel, a hammock tent, icecream tubs to hide in, and something exciting everyday to keep them amused when I'm at work (yesterday it was a little bowl with peas for pea fishing).

However, at night when I'm asleep the boys are tearing their hammock tent to peices. They've made 2 back entrances and are working on the front door now! They love their tent and sleep in it but their not going to have a tent left at this rate. Are they destroying the tent because they're board? I've noticed Joe's using the strips of material he tears off for his nest in the tent. I gave him some old socks to nest with and some unbleached/unprinted on loo paper to tear up (which he uses) but he seems determined to keep working on the tent! I put a wooden chew block below the tent for them to gnaw their teeth down on but they're completely uninterested in it.

10-12-09, 10:07 pm
Yeah, some rats just really get a kick out of shredding their fleece cozies. You can make no-sew hammocks really cheap. Check YouTube for tutorials ;) Most rat owners just keep replacing them as they fall apart.

10-12-09, 11:10 pm
I can't tell you the amount of items that have been chewed up over the years by my rats. Rats are pretty much natural chewers and like to chew up their things. I don't buy expensive hammocks, tents, tunnels, etc. anymore.

10-13-09, 12:39 am
Noted - will search for cheap safe material and a quick put together design so the boys can keep living in tents without falling through their own chew holes!

To be fair I thought their back door to the tent was quite impressive design wise :)