CHOOSING YOUR RAT
Its really fun to pick out
your first rat, but there are things to watch for.You can go to a pet store, breeder, or your local animal shelter. Make sure
that the pet store has seperated thier babies by sex as they can get pregnant at the age of 4 to 6 weeks. Then check thier
health,a healthy rat is active, curious and has bright shiny eyes.Sometimes your rat will even choose you! Take some time
with this, play with the babies, and see who responds to you. I have also had good luck with older males ( if you decide to
get yours from a shelter).
A healthy rat should feel solid, not too boney or fat. Do not buy any that aren't looking good,
avoid sneezing, or ones with a reddish discharge around thier eyes and nose. Be careful if they are lethargic,
and not active. Rats also like to be with a friend, so consider getting 2, it will make them both happy and it does not cost
any more to feed 2 instead of one. Also make sure to choose the same sex of rats unless you want to breed them.
If you are thinking about breeding I suggest getting your rats from an established breeder, and BEFORE you do anything make
sure to do lots of research. You should have prospective homes for the babies before you have a litter. Rats can have
anywhere from 1 to 20 babies.
HOUSING YOUR RAT
Rats are surprisingly easy
to take care of. First consideration should of course be housing. Usually this is the most expensive part of the keeping of
rats. I have rats in glass aquariums, and wire cages. The aquariums are best for mothers and babies because i have found that
a baby rat will be able to squeeze out of just about any cage because of bar spacing. Also aquariums are best for hairless
rats, because it cuts down on drafts and they can become cold easily. Now as for wire cages,most adult rats will be happy
in wire cages with bar spacing of about 1\2in.by 1 in. That way they cannot get thier little heads stuck in the bars.They
love to climb around the cages too. Rats have toenails like we do and if you are not comfortable trimming them, you can put
a small rock or brick in the bottom of the cage, under the water bottle to help keep thier nails worn down.Fill the
cage with toys, ladders, ramps, ropes, cardboard tubes, hammocks etc. Rats are so intelligent that they can get bored easily
if they do not have stuff to do. The worst thing is to put a rat in an aquarium with nothing but a water bottle and food dish.
I have tried allmost all the different litters and bedding.I recently
discovered the joy of newspaper, yes newspaper. It makes cleaning the cage very easy, just roll up and throw away, doesnt
weigh as much as other bedding either plus the rats love to tear it up. Some places have free newspapers so its also cheap
so I can afford to clean them more often.
Aspen bedding, available at most pet stores, is also good as it does not contain any oils or
additives which can be harmful to rats. . There is also a bedding called CAREFRESH that is made of paperwhich has a wierd
smell and a bit of dust but it is highly recommended by other RAT LOVERS.You can also use a combination of cat letter pellets
like Yesterdays News, or a horse stall litter like Woody Pet, and Kiln dried pine. Please NEVER use pine or especially cedar
as these contain stuff which can potentially be fatal to rats. Clean the cage at least twice a week, more if need be. Do not
clean new mothers cages until the babies have hair,10 days or two weeks after the birth. I have found that this lessens the
Rats need carbohydrates,proteins, and fatty
acids in thier diet. I purchase in bulk, rat chow, hamster food and rabbit pellets and make my own mixture. I also add some
dried fruits and veggies. I also give them vitimans. But guess what!!! Rats can become BIG junk food junkies if you let them.
they love any food you do, but never chocolate. Mine eat pizza, popcorn, fresh fruits and veggies and just about anything
you can think of. The key to keeping them healthy is moderation. I also buy powdered baby formula and add it to the food of
my pregnant and nursing mommas See the RECIPE page for a good dry mix, and some treats too!! Rats love to chew, and because
thier teeth are growing constantly they need HARD stuff for this or you will end up trimming thier teeth. There are wood chews
made for small critters, also Nyla bones, and Rawhide chews, and even dog buscuits help with this.
are many things you can do with your rat, take them with you on your shoulder or in your pocket. I have an old "backpack"
style purse that mine like to ride in. They love to chase things and will play tug like a dog. They also can be trained to
do tricks by using the "treat" method. They can learn to climb ropes or ladders, come when they are called, learn different
words etc. They love to have interaction with humans, also other rats.
am not a vet, so I reccomend finding a vet that has experience in caring for rats before something happens. Some rats can
get tumors or abcesses. Watch out for respitory infections, look for excessive sneezing, and reddish discharge around the
eyes and noes.This is called porphyrin. Antibiotics will help. Some rats can get a disease called mycoplasma pulmonis
it is definatly a vet thing. They can also develop toumors, too. SO PLEASE CALL YOUR VET.
Some rats can also
come to you with mites or other nasty critters, usually you can use a spray from the pet store made for kittens.
I have added ecinacia/goldenseal to a small piece of food for about 3-4 days to help with thier immune
systems. Yogurt is good for diarrhea too. This is the extent of my medical advice.