View Full Version : Thinking of rats

Lil Fella's Mom
05-16-10, 09:03 am
My local shelter has to close for 2 weeks for renovations and they are trying to adopt out as many animals as possible. Last weekend, we had a neighborhood yard sale, and I got a free Ferret cage from a friend. Personally, I wouldn't even keep one ferret in it, but I was wondering if it was big enough for two rats. It is a two level cage with a metal bottom. The dimensions are 31x15. I didn't measure the height, but the two levels are high enough to where I could add hammocks and such comfortably.

I know nothing about rats. Can anyone give some general information, such as fleece and bedding use, food needs, likes and dislikes? Does anyone have a link to some general information? I would like to know these things before I run and bring home rats from the shelter.

05-16-10, 10:19 am
I use ratforum.com

For bedding I use recycled news paper that I get 60 lbs for $6.00. They love to dig through it with their paws/face so something not too dusty is a good idea. They sometimes burry their food to keep it safe.
My rat ate her fleece cozy when I wasn't home. So I'm not too sure how it would work as bedding.
There's a food info here the Rat Report (http://www.ratfanclub.org/caresheet.html)
Also here's the toys you can make for them. They love to play and they climb like mad! Rat Toy Ideas (http://www.dapper.com.au/toys.htm) There is also more things you should read on that website. It's very good.

Good luck and if you get them, I want to see pics! :)

Lil Fella's Mom
05-16-10, 10:53 am
Is the cage I have even big enough for two? What also do you use for bedding on the levels? I am very confused about their dietary needs, what do you feed?

05-16-10, 11:20 am
For the levels, I use cardboard boxes for my girls. Then I shred newspaper, put it on the bottom of the cage and they carry it to the box and make their own bed. They love to lay on each other more than anything else.

ratsrule.com - rat care primer (http://www.ratsrule.com/ratcare.html) Here's more information about food.

I feed "Regal Rat Oxbow" to mine. But that's for adult rats. Not sure how old yours are. Then in the morning they get some of the same veggies the pig gets and at night they get a treat of baby food (meat flavored) sometimes and other times they get things like blueberries, grapes and even dry cereal. They sometimes get sunflower seeds but those are high in fat and should be fed only once in a while.

It says on that site- "CAGES
A hamster cage or Habitrail is NOT an acceptable home for a rat. Such habitats are far too small and offer poor ventilation. Glass aquariums are acceptable, but do not offer the same ventilation as a wire cage, so must be cleaned more often to avoid harmful ammonia buildup. A cage should offer a bare minimum of 2 cubic feet for one to two rats -- about the equivalent of a 20-gallon long aquarium, but more room is always better. I prefer 2 cubic feet per rat. I always recommend that people purchase or construct the largest cage they can. Wire cages (such as rabbit and ferret cages) are by far preferred. They offer superior ventilation, plenty of climbing opportunities, and better flexibility for modification and "decorating." Space between wires should be between 1/2" x 1/2" (for babies) and 1" x 2" for adults."

So, as with every animal, bigger is better!

Lil Fella's Mom
05-16-10, 12:08 pm
I looked at a cage calculator and found out my cage would house about 6 rats, wow.
I was thinking two, guess they are getting spoiled then.

I looked at different foods and have decided that the Mazuri Rodent pellets are a good food that is locally available for me. It came recommended on several sites. do you feed your ratties any meat? The sites said to give them chicken or beef baby food as well as veggies and fruit. I am still a bit fuzzy on the diet, but I will read as much as I can. I hope Ly will come in and recommend some things. She knows so much about cavies and I read in posts that she keeps ratties as well.

Thanks for your help and keep the advice coming.

05-16-10, 12:29 pm
Yup, they love chicken and turkey and they really like babyfood. :)

Rats have been called the "garbage disposal" of animals. There are a few foods to avoid though. If you scroll down on this page the Rat Report (http://www.ratfanclub.org/diet.html) it has "forbidden foods" that they should not eat.

05-16-10, 12:54 pm
31"x15"? Is that length and height? What's the depth of the cage?

I know lots about rats. I have one boy currently because it's so hard to find rats to adopt where I am. I had a pair of young boys but unfortunately lost one, he just wasn't thriving at all. So now my Duquesne is all alone.

Mazuri isn't good for rats, neither is Oxbow. The best rat block is Harlan Teklad, now called Native Earth I think. You can feed a Suebee's type mix along with that and fresh foods. Or you can do a high quality, low protein dog food with a Suebee's mix and fresh foods. I don't often give baby food as it's not all that great for them. A little fresh meat like chicken, turkey or tuna is good, hardboiled eggs occasionally, small amounts of fresh veggies, yogurt, organic or whole grained pasta's both cooked and uncooked, a little piece of fruit occasionally, a mini m&m a couple times a week as a special treat, hard-shelled nuts once in a while.

I cook up stuff for them like grains such as amaranth, quinoa, brown or wild rice, oatmeal, whole grain pasta and then I will add in a small amount of turkey, chicken or tuna. I do this a couple times a week. I give fresh veggies daily but only a couple things. One day it might be a piece of bell pepper and a piece of cucumber and the next it could be a small piece of lettuce and a couple sprigs of cilantro. I also give thawed frozen peas occasionally.

I make up a Suebee's type mix (ingredients vary sometimes from each batch) but I start with a box of total cereal (it contains all the needed vitamins/minerals) then add in puffed cereals such as puffed wheat, puffed brown rice, puffed millet, puffed corn, puffed kamut and kashi 7 grain puffs. I also add in some type of Nature's Path granola cereal with fruit and then 2-3 other good grain flaked cereals such as Nature's Path Heritage Flakes (and another Nature's Path cereal that has amaranth in it but can't think of the name and don't have the box as I ran out of it). I have gone to the better cereals for my rats as most of the stuff you get in the grocery store is too sugar laden. I use Nature's Path, Arrowhead Mills and Kashi cereals for the majority of the mix. I do use wheat chex and multi grain cheerios also but I only put about 1/4 box per batch I make. I also add in a small amount of rolled oats, unsalted roasted soynuts, 1 small package of a tropical dried fruit mix. I'm sure I am forgetting some stuff I put in the mix but it gives them a huge variety of good things to eat. I make a large batch and it lasts quite a while with one or two rats. Duquesne picks out his favorites first but he eats everything I give him and so have all the other rats I have had. I don't give a lot of the cereal mix. Usually one small dish full each night (the small colorful dish like you find for hamsters at Wal-Mart). It would probably equate out to about 1/4 cup.

Along with the mix, I give a high quality Senior dog food that is low in protein. I use Innova Sr dry. I give a few pieces each day along with the grain mix.

Treats- those baby puffs you can get in the baby aisle make great treats as they are very low in sugars. There are several flavors.

Like with pigs, you want to stay away from store bought pet treats like yogurt drops. The baby yogurt melts are much better as is fresh yogurt. They also cannot digest alfalfa so nothing with alfalfa in it like those huts or logs that are out for rodents.

05-16-10, 01:26 pm
Wow Ly, I don't know anything about rat care but it sounds like your rat is living quite the life! Kudos!

05-16-10, 01:34 pm
Ly, where do you buy your food? The lab blocks I mean

Lil Fella's Mom
05-16-10, 03:37 pm
Wow, the forums I had been to said that Mazuri was a good food. They will have to eat it until I can get all the other stuff to make the mix. I would be awesome if you could private message me the amounts and ingredients you use for this mix, Ly, or maybe you have a link to a sample menu. Also, do I understand you right when you say you give your one boy about 1/4 cup of the cereal mix and a few pieces of the dry dog food as a daily staple?

The cage I have is 31" wide and 15" deep.(2 story, probably about 45" high) It is a ferret cage and now homes two very happy young rattie brothers named Chip and Dale. I got them from the Humane society because I made the mistake to go and look, lol. I got a bunch of toys, hammocks, ropes, and such as I had seen in the gallery on this forum. I am pretty pleased with the cage's first setup and the boys seem to like it too.

05-16-10, 03:50 pm
A sample menu would be awesome. Like what you feed monday-sunday am and pm and then the treats that are okay.

There are not many sites that have the right information on rats. It's annoying. There needs to be an awesome site like this but about rat care...

It would be really nice to have that menu. I know I need help too.