Good age for pet rats?

(16 Posts)
steppingout Wed 02-Sep-15 17:03:00

Hello,

I was wondering if anyone could offer some advice... DSD8 has asked if she can have pet rats. Me and OH are fine with it in principle (I had some when I was a teenager and they're lovely animals). I'm not worried about her handling them - she's good at being appropriately gentle with animals, but I'm a bit worried that she's quite young to be responsible enough to take charge of them... We also have a cat which is in theory hers, but it's always me who ends up either feeding her or reminding DSD (several times, twice a day) to feed her, and I really don't want to end up in the same situation with more animals (that also need cleaning out, exercising regularly and so on). I'm happy to help her along a bit where necessary, but I know that if I end up doing it myself or constantly having to chase her, it's going to drive me nuts. Any thoughts/experiences on similar aged (forgetful) children would be great!

SleepyForest Wed 02-Sep-15 17:36:42

I think you will have to take on the weekly full cage clean. My dd managed feeding and changing water daily and emptying the toilet box as part of play time but the full cleaning was too much for her at 8.

I wouldn't get more than 2 as the level of cleaning goes up with each rat. We had one lot of boys first then chose girls the next time as the boys always peed on the remote control which drove dh spare. The boys were cuddlier and lived a lot longer but they definitely smelled worse. I love rats though - they are so affectionate.

chickensaresafehere Wed 02-Sep-15 17:44:29

SleepyForest our boys pee on the remote control too & our phones,if they're on the sofa.
It always make me laugh when we get them out & have to clear all electronics & such out of their way!
Depending on the size of their cage,I would think an 8 year old would need help with cleaning & they do need to be handled regularly too.

AGnu Wed 02-Sep-15 17:52:44

Our girls were always much worse than our (neutered) boys for weeing everywhere! One in particular seemed to be determined that everything in the house should belong to her. hmm

I'm hoping to get more rats when our DC are about 8 & 10 but wouldn't be expecting them to do all the cleaning out - I'd probably insist on them being present & helping as much as they're able though.

RattieofCatan Thu 03-Sep-15 13:11:28

I think that you should only get them if c they are for you tbh, rats are way too much responsibility for an 8yo. I love mine but even my lone boy's cage needs a tidy most days and he's lethargic. We're also having to fully change our girls cage every three or four days at the moment as our old girl has become incontinent. Whilst a child could help u think you'd end up with a smelly cage very quickly if you left it to her alone!

RattieofCatan Thu 03-Sep-15 13:15:26

One of my boys marked everything, we had him neutered to deal with some aggression issues and the fact that it's made the marking non - existent has been a blessing in disguise! My big boys aren't cuddly though, my for girls are much more cuddly, even the two rescues. My lone boy is cuddly but that is largely due to health issues!

steppingout Fri 04-Sep-15 14:12:39

Thanks for the input everyone - I'll have a think about it. Maybe agree that if she can look after the cat reasonably reliably for a period of time then we can look at pet rats. I'm happy to help with cleaning and bigger things, but I don't want reminding her to do the daily bits to turn into another thing that I have to chase her about/do myself! It might be better to wait until she's a little bit older. Talking about it has kind of made me miss having rats though...

SacredHeart Fri 04-Sep-15 14:21:39

Boys are bigger and more dopey but to me 8 is young. You should consider these your pets and if you are not willing to care for them as your own, don't get them.

Also I would never get less than three rats as they are pack animals and two tend to scuffle more as they power struggle and if they fight have no one to cuddle with.

I have kept rats for 10 years, my largest colony was 12 and they are great pets but to give them a good quality of life they need at least an hour free ranging per day out of the cage. They can also be sickly so they need daily checks (eyes, teeth, noses for snuffles) and a good savings account for vet visits. They can easily live for 3 years if looked after but respitory illness can be fatal if not treated.

Finally please do not get them from a pet shop as the breeding methods are disgusting (imagine a mum and 14 babies being raised in a icecream tub sized cage)

Find your local rat club and go to their local meet, most have a petting corner so you can see how they look, feel and act (with appropriate care and handling) and you will find loads of ethical breeders.

GnocchiGnocchiWhosThere Fri 04-Sep-15 14:23:22

I used to clean out my rats at 8! It isn't that hard. My sister and I shared the responsibility so it wasn't every week, but my mum absolutely refused to do it for us. It's just ditching the newspaper and sawdust, disinfecting the tray and giving the bars a scrub: doesn't take long and not physically taxing at all.

I used to out my girls in the bath for a swim while I cleaned the bars on the bathroom floor, they adored it grin

They were the best pets ever. I really can't understand anyone owning any other rodents, gerbils and hamsters and stuff just bite, shit and sleep, and they smell revolting.

GnocchiGnocchiWhosThere Fri 04-Sep-15 14:26:25

I only ever had two at a time and they never scrapped. We always had girls though as mum had an idea that the boys smelt worse, maybe they're less territorial? Or just luck.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Fri 04-Sep-15 17:05:56

Quickie daft question.....

Are rats a bit incontinent (I've kept mice they certainly just peed'n'poohed at random grin )

Guinea-pigs just lift their rumps and pooh (but it's non smelly and non squidgy unless they are unwell or you get a first passing)

But even the lazy hogs we own will hold their bladders and give us a good indication that they want to go back in their carrier.

And they aren't even that clever wink

SacredHeart Fri 04-Sep-15 19:00:09

All my rats were litter trained and would return to their cage to go to the loo. They are very clean animals and will try and stay as such. One of mine would tug on my sleeve if I was holding him and he needed the loo so he could be put back. It's about listening to them and understanding what they are telling you.

They do however have 'fear poo' which is very stinky that they release when they are scared (to make them unappetising to prey)

Litter training is just like for cats - put any poop in the tray, keep it clean but smelling a little like poop.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Fri 04-Sep-15 20:20:45

smile at sleeve tugging.

Our guineas do a 'step back dance' . We learned their own particular signs.
If we ignore it, they look judgily and just wee.
"Well I did TRY but you don't listen, so hey ho "
Or in the case of my guinea "Pick the bones out of that Food Bringer"

grin

RattieofCatan Sat 05-Sep-15 13:17:15

Mermaid: is not just the trays though, hammocks have to come out and be washed, toys checked, houses checked, redoing litter trays, etc.

II agree re 3 or more, the dynamic is much better with trios than pairs, it's much better for them to be in groups as well.

Ours usually "tell" us when they need a wee. The boys used to pee on my lap all of the time but have outgrown that thankfully. We have accidents but 99% of the time it is when we aren't paying them attention. They wee on the carpet on long free range sessions occasionally but usually hold it in.

Ashi, OTOH, shits everywhere but in the litter tray and makes a special effort to leave as many surprises as possible when free ranging -_- he's my boy with extra issues though.

Scared poos are horrid, especially scared poos in the bath <<boak>>

RattieofCatan Sat 05-Sep-15 13:19:57

Oh, and do avoid pet shop rats. The nfrs has a list of breeders, if you are near the south coast my breeder is amazing, I won't go anywhere else now as he rats are brilliant to handle and very sweet, my year old girls from her still wrestle and play with us exactly as they did when they were kittens smile

70isaLimitNotaTarget Wed 17-Feb-16 21:42:15

Bumping for Blue

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