View Full Version : No idea about rats...

10-22-10, 07:32 am
I want to adopt two rats (I know they need friends) but I really have no idea how to take care of them.

My first question is: How big does their cage need to be? I have one that is 2.5 square feet - is that too small? Also, do you think their cage could be in the same room as the guinea pigs cage, or would they annoy each-other?

Second: What do they eat? I know they eat fresh veggies but do they need pellets/mix too? Is one kind better than another kind?

Three: What do they need in their cage? Do they need hides? Toys?

Last one: Can I use fleece for their bedding? I also heard something about litter-trained rats, what's that? Also, what's a nesting box?

10-22-10, 11:41 am
Rats need a lot of space, they are very active. They like to climb, run, hide. They eat a lot of things, but some are poison for them such as oranges and all fruits of that family. I was offering mines a "extrusion" pellet and a mix of seeds. Plus veggies and fruits. They also like rice, pastas (cooked or not). Oxbow has a rat food. That I didnt know at the time I had rats.
Bedding. You need to know that a rat will pee where he feel comfortable. So if your rat feels safe and all with you, he will pee everywhere. They need a lot of manipulation. All my rats (except one but she was blind/deaf mostly) were going crazy to go out their cage and loved just hanging on my shoulder while I was doing my things.
you might like this site : Rat Behavior and Biology (http://www.ratbehavior.org/)
There are a lot of excellent sites around. Check for what they can't eat. I don't remember all. They go nuts for bananas.
They are night critters like guinea pigs. You also have to know they are often sick, and get prepared as they don't live as long as guinea pigs.
But they are very intelligent and can learn the meaning of few words and tricks. The small time they are with us is filled with love and joy. The longuest I had a rat with me was 2.5 years. My skinny only 1 year. I still miss her so much.
Oh.. males are snugglier, females more independants. But still love to be held and pet.
Sorry if my post is a mess.. I just woke up.

10-22-10, 11:42 am
You will need a bigger cage. Here is a rat cage calculator.
Ratty Corner Cage Calculator (http://www.rattycorner.com/odds/calc.shtml)
I have a ferret nation and I LOVE it. You can only have a ferret nation for adult male rats. For femals and babys a critter nation will work. Its the same thing just smaller bar spacing. Martins cages are good too.
They can be in the same room as the pigs.
They need a lab block. No seed mixes. Harlan teklad, Mazuri and Oxbow are the best brands of rat food. You can also feed subees grain mix and dog food. I feed nutro lite dog food and subees. They do need a small amount of veggies every day.
They need hammocks, hideys, tunnels and toys. Here is my rats cage.
rats :: ratscage001.jpg picture by ctam12345 - Photobucket (http://s833.photobucket.com/albums/zz258/ctam12345/rats/?action=view&current=ratscage001.jpg&newest=1)
They could not live without their hammocks and tunnels.
You can litter train rats. I dont think you can 100% litter train them. My rats will poop in their litter pan but only pee in it about 30% of the time. You can use fleece. You use it the same way you would with guinea pigs.
A nesting box is just a box with a nesting material in it like fleece or shredded newspaper. Rats love nesting boxes.

10-22-10, 01:36 pm
You can only have a ferret nation for adult male rats.I housed my adult females in my Ferret Nation cage. For young rats and small female rats, you only need to add baby proofing to the cage so they can't escape. The proofing would be a heavy duty mesh/hardware cloth added all around the outside of the cage.

Diet: Seed mixes and pellets are a bad choice. Here are some posts I've made in the past concerning rat diets:

You can also read through this forum section to get more ideas on what rats really need.

10-22-10, 04:20 pm
Before you get rats, know they are very smart and emotional little guys. I find them more work than my cats because they are more playful. They need a lot of attention and they have comparable intelligence to dogs. They can learn their names which is pretty cool. Vet bills get quite expensive. If you have female rats you HAVE to get them spayed or they will get cancer, it's the saddest most heartbreaking thing ever.

Martin's Cages are fantastic they make the only cage my rats never got out of. Some of the smaller cages on the site are too small you can use the rat mansion or above. Overall you need about 2.5 square feet per rat. Toys are easy because they love to make houses in empty pop can boxes, you can string up some cheerios or put some frozen peas in a little bit of water and watch them fish. Rat hammocks can be as simple as an old t-shirt modified into a bed (this method is cheaper if you have avid chewers). The love to chew on rawhide. Greenies dog biscuits are good for them it cleans their teeth. Oh yeah like pigs they need floor time but you'll have to rat proof the room they chew everything.

They are omnivores, and their metabolism is similar to ours. You'll want to feed them this ratsrule.com - suebee's rat diet (http://www.ratsrule.com/diet.html) or you can order high quality lab blocks on line (no Kaytee's). It's really important you use a low protein dog kibble otherwise. Rats can eat pretty much whatever in moderation they can even have chicken bones because they gnaw on them so there are no sharp pieces. They can have oranges, but citric acid can cause cancer in males it's okay in moderation to females and spayed males. if you have a livejournal the Ratties community is one of best resources you can have.

Good luck! If you ever have a question feel free to PM me. I'm actually going to get three females next month, I'm super excited, I've missed owning rats.

10-22-10, 04:23 pm
I really recommend Rat's Rule forum--it is very informative and the members are very happy to help! They have many threads with just pictures of their cages, so that you can get an idea of what you can put in your cage. They do advocate seed mixes, but I don't recommend them at all because it's essentially a fast-food buffet as the rats can pick and choose what they want. You could supplement with a mix once or twice a week as a treat, but definitely not daily. The best diet is in the form of a lab block, Harlan Teklad being the best. MRR sells HT: MRR Food Store (http://mainelyratrescue.org/store2/) You would want to feed 2016 for adults and 2018 for younger rats. You should also supplement the lab blocks with fresh fruits and veggies daily.

Your best bet is to check out the links below and join Rat's Rule:
Goosemoose Pet Portal - Goosemoose Pet Portal - Index (http://www.goosemoose.com/component/option,com_smf/Itemid,118/forum,rat)
ratsrule.com (http://ratsrule.com/)
Rat Fan Club (http://ratfanclub.org/)

Good luck!