what do I need to know about rats?

(22 Posts)
OnceUponAThyme Fri 19-Apr-13 18:48:17

hi smile
my dd is 4, and I told her when she is 5 or 6, she could have a small furry. I'm leaning towards rats over hamsters.
so I know I'll need two rats. big cage. lots of toys and climby things.
I've only had hamsters and tamed them with varying success. are rats easy to tame and like handling? as I'd like to get them out myself as well as with dd grin
cage wise, how much room do they need? I was looking at pets at home but the cages looked teeny considering the rats size. they also told me I only needed the one rat hmm
are there differences between sex personality wise?
also, can I keep the cage in the living room where we all spend time or would they prefer a quieter life in dd's room. I'd like to keep them where we all spend time if possible so we can watch them and they watch us grin
final question, where do I get them? a pet shop near me sells them and pets at home has dumbo rats. or would I be better finding a breeder if possible for tamer rats?
thank you smile

nenevomito Fri 19-Apr-13 21:00:25

I have three rats and this is my second set. They are lovely, intelligent little creatures and much nicer than hamsters IMO. They love to be where action is as they've very curious and yes, the bigger the cage you can get the better.

They like having lots of places to sleep, so we have a little house, two pods attached to the top of the cage and a big house where they can all sleep.

Last time we had fancy rats, this time husky rats (named after their colouring). They all have their own personalities. One is really friendly and loves to explore and be handled lots. One is a total scaredy rat and we can't get him out of the cage for love or money and one who is hard to get out, but loves it when he does.

definitely get more than one as they are very sociable, although we got a lonely only the first time and he ended up hanging out with us every night on the sofa.

They are lovely animals, can't recommend them enough.

nenevomito Fri 19-Apr-13 21:02:37

I got mine from a local pet shop run by a small animal enthusiast who breeds small amounts and has a house full of any he can't sell grin Rats get more tame with gentle handling.

Only other bit of advice is to NOT wear plasters when you are holding one. We have no idea what does it, but they are like Rat Crack and they will go for your finger if you have one on.

ThePlatypusAlwaysTriumphs Fri 19-Apr-13 21:05:59

rats are fabulous, and far far better pets for children than hamsters- far more sociable and less bite-y!!! (says she nursing hamster-bitten finger from yesterday- excuse typing!!) They are curious, and easily handled. Big cage, lots of toys, best in pairs, lots of human interaction. I luff them, but haven't had any in years, due to cats!

OnceUponAThyme Fri 19-Apr-13 21:11:09

thank you. husky rats sound cute smile
been looking at cages and saw some nice ones. lots of sleeping spots is a good idea, like the idea of a friendly critter my dd (and me and dh blush ) can interact with and look after.
my dh is worried they'll smell but with regular cleaning, that wouldnt be too much of an issue?
I'll be reading lots before getting them, they sound pretty cool!

OnceUponAThyme Fri 19-Apr-13 21:13:37

yep, was hoping they'd be easier to handle than hamsters, plus more playful I imagine.
my dd wants two boys, but we'll see how we go.
another thing was food. I know you can buy nuggets but is it ok to give them treats like eggs, or I've read dried pasta or chicken?

Mynewmoniker Fri 19-Apr-13 21:14:55

As a past member of the National Fancy Rat Society blush

They are nothing like ferral rats. I think females smell less but need cleaning out at least every other day.

They are brilliant pets if gently handled. My last one would come to the call of her name and never did any damage or left any droppings in the living room.

Would MUCH prefer one rather than a hamster. More friendly and intelligent and loyal.

They don't tend to live long and tend to get cysts/tumors and pneumonia.

nenevomito Fri 19-Apr-13 21:15:44

We clean ours out once a week - it can go to two, but with boys it gets a bit wiffy.

One thing to avoid is the soft fluffy bedding you get for hamsters. rats can get bad coughs and infections and that bedding is awful for causing problems.

OnceUponAThyme Fri 19-Apr-13 21:18:01

probably get girls then, I'm sure they won't mind having boy names lol.
sorry for asking so much, just want to get it right when I get them. was thinking after xmas but I like to be prepared lol grin

Mynewmoniker Fri 19-Apr-13 21:18:09

Ohhh and DON'T ever place their cage near your best curtains (especially if they are some expensive ones your mum lent you) as mine reached out and pulled them through the bars, made a nice nest and turned my curtains into broiderie anglais!

Madratlady Fri 19-Apr-13 21:21:22

Rats are amazing! I have 14 because we kept rescuing ones for adoption on Gumtree! Much more affectionate and friendly than hamsters and not as nocturnal, so much better children's cage.

Get a big cage, try this website and the code FANCYRATS gets you a 15% discount.

Plenty of toys and things to gnaw are a must, they love hammocks to sleep in so hang up an old tea towel or something for them to curl up in.

Keep them in the living room, they are nosy little things and like to see what's going on! Baby rats are more smelly than adults so b prepared for a pong until they settle in. Don't clean the cage fully more than once a week or so though or they'll scent mark more (i.e. wee on everything), it's better to litter train them (surprisingly easy) and empty litter trays and wipe plastic things regularly and do a full clean weekly.

Girl rats tend to be more hyper and explorers, less likely to sit for cuddles. Boys, especially as they get older, are much more laid back and happy to be handled and sit on laps.

The best thing to do is get them from a breeder registered with the National Fancy Rat Society, although they may have a waiting list. Small animal rescues are also a good place to look.

OnceUponAThyme Fri 19-Apr-13 21:37:01

swinging back to the boys now if they're more likely to be chilled, more ideal for dd.
thanks for the website and the code, I'm in cage browsing heaven grin
I was looking at breeders of rats on the Scottish fancy rat site and there are a few close to me, so may contact them soon and see if they would be happy to sell me a pair, dont mind waiting.

Mynewmoniker Fri 19-Apr-13 21:42:40

I reckon they would be happy to show you their stock and give you loads of free advice smile

nenevomito Fri 19-Apr-13 21:49:32

Ooh I love that website. I think I'll treat my boys to an igloo!

OnceUponAThyme Fri 19-Apr-13 21:50:50

I'm already mentally adding stuff to my imaginary cage grin

trice Fri 19-Apr-13 21:54:59

I have had two lots of rats, they are very cute and cuddly. I got mine from a breeder and they have always been very tame and well socialized. Last lot were Russian blue dumbo girls. They like most human food, particularly banana and mackerel, but sugar and citrus are bad for them. It is fun to train them to do tricks and they love to sleep in your jumper while you watch telly. I made most of the cage toys from recycled bottles/boxes and old clothing. Much more fun than a hamster.

fantashtic Fri 19-Apr-13 22:01:58

They are the best pets ever, currently have two curled up near my feet (year old boys) and two soft babies looking at me pleadingly for attention from the cage.
As someone said up the thread, rat babies smell worse than adults - I'd forgotten til we got two more a couple of weeks ago. When they are older they smell of hay. smile I wish more people knew what funny, lovely pets they make.

fantashtic Fri 19-Apr-13 22:06:37

Also, if you can get past the slight American schmaltz of this you'll cry (I did)
www.oprah.com/relationships/How-a-Hong-Kong-Alley-Rat-Changed-One-Couples-Life

midori1999 Fri 19-Apr-13 22:16:47

Rats are amazing pets! I have had hundreds as we also keep snakes and for ethical reasons decided to breed our own rodents for a while, although we are not in a position to do that now sadly. I did also keep some 'just' pet rats too and will hopefully have a trio of pet rats again soonish.

A trio is better as then if one dies you will still have a pair and not a single rat left alone. They are very friendly, sociable and inquisitive animals and would love being in the living room. I find girls better as boys do tend to be more smelly and girls are more active, but they will also be cuddled/sit on you. You can litter train them to keep cleaning down a little bit.

The larger the cage you can get them the better. We have one of these www.zooplus.co.uk/shop/small_pets/hutches_cages/ferret_cage/95915 although you could use one half of that size for two or three rats. They also need time out do the cage each day really.

Food wise, they can and will eat anything, but some people don't like to give them meat. They can eat a pice of cooked chicken carcass and will chew the bones etc up too which is good for their teeth, but don't give too much protein. They will also eat fruit and veg. A lot of keepers also make up their own 'rat mix' using dried rabbit mix (certain ones), breakfast cereals, dog kibble and dry, uncooked pasta. See here www.shunamiterats.co.uk/shunamite.shtml

Definitely get from a good breeder, they should also live longer than let shop rats as well as being more friendly and it being more ethical to buy from a breeder who is ethical.

OnceUponAThyme Fri 19-Apr-13 22:54:50

cheers everyone, the more I read the more I think we'd all love them. thanks for answering all my silly questions about it, I like reading all the replies and seeing what great pets they make.
I said to dh about three rats, but he fears it would turn out like some mini zoo as I was showing him cages that can hold 6 -9 rats grin

Madratlady Fri 19-Apr-13 23:34:21

3 is a good number. If anything happened to one of a pair the other would pine. My Charlie moped and sat in a corer and barely ate when we lost his brother. We got him some friends from a rescue and he perked right up. You should tell your DH that you wouldn't want that to happen and therefore you should get 3 grin

OnceUponAThyme Fri 19-Apr-13 23:53:24

I shall appeal to his love of rodents. knowing me, I'll end up with 5/6 grin

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