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(24 Posts)
Chickenshavenolips Wed 21-Oct-09 13:00:12

I'm thinking of getting my 6 year old two female rats. Does anyone keep any? I'm just wondering exactly how gig their cage/tank needs to be, and also any cons to keeping them as opposed to, say, a hamster. Thankee kindly

Iklboo Wed 21-Oct-09 13:07:18


Get a specialist rat cage from the pet shop. They need more room than a hammy. They are more active, can be trained to be handled quicker and once they are they're very affectionate & love cuddles.
They're only smelly if you don't clean them out enough
They may fight but not serious - lots of squeaking & wrestling then will fall asleep cuddling
They like lots of exercise & stimulation - a run out of the cage at least every other day. Remember to close off holes they can get out of though. They can learn to return to their cage themselves when they get bored

RATS ARE BRILLIANT!!!!! (can't wait till DS is older and we can get some more. We used to have 4)

LadyOfTheFlowers Wed 21-Oct-09 13:12:34

I kept rats in my late teens.

They were pretty cool.

I found females didn't really smell at all, as mentioned, if they whiff a bit you have left it a bit ti late to change shavings, males tend to smell more as they have a natural musk.

They can do mazes and walk along scarves etc.

They are very affectionate and will close thier eyes and go all floppy if you stroke them right!

I had mice, rats and hamsters and the only ones that ever bit me were the hamsters. Rats are a bit more robust for younger children to hold IMO and can cling on to your clothing well - they like to sit on your shoulder.

Iklboo Wed 21-Oct-09 13:14:14

I found a jumper the other day I used to wear when we exercised our girls sad. The sleeves are very floopy & they used to love running up them and sitting on my shoulder.

Millie used to groom my hair (sob)

morethanyoubargainfor Wed 21-Oct-09 13:15:38

i have also kept rats, and IMHO they ROCK!

I have had 3 females and 2 males and i found the females far nicer than the males.

One of my females used to come shopping with me, she used to roll up on my shoulder in my hair and look out at people! They are very easy to train, and also very sociable. MIne used to interact daily with the dogs,cat,and rabbits, the birds were never too keen!

We had a big metal cage designed for chinchillas i think and they are so funny to watch as they do all sorts of stuff, hang upside down, run about etc when ever we were watching television we had the door open and they pretty much had fre run, they are very funny trying to go up the stairs! grin. they always went back into thier cage to go to the toilet so never any mess to clean up.

I WANT MORE RATS, (unfortunately i married a city dweller who it took me 8 years to persude to have dogs!)

Chickenshavenolips Wed 21-Oct-09 13:17:06

OK, well this is encouraging grin How long do they live for, on average?

muggglewump Wed 21-Oct-09 13:17:41

I had fab advice on here recently and so I am getting DD a pair of female rats for Christmas.
I can't wait. We've already chosen names-Pumpkin and Squashgrin

morethanyoubargainfor Wed 21-Oct-09 13:18:46

my girl who was my favourite was around 4 i think when she died, but she had cancer sad.

morethanyoubargainfor Wed 21-Oct-09 13:19:17

muggle i loe those names grin

morethanyoubargainfor Wed 21-Oct-09 13:20:18

Average lifespan is 2-3years but there have been some that live up to 5-6 apparently.

Iklboo Wed 21-Oct-09 13:22:03

Yes they live longer than hamsters and are more 'robust' - plus they are fairly social all day (ours were anybody's for some tinned sweetcorn)
They're easy to entertain too - toilet roll inners, empty cardboard boxes etc are fun for them to play in
They will love you forever if you buy/make them a hammock grin

morethanyoubargainfor Wed 21-Oct-09 13:23:44

and feed them bonios

or that could have just been mine grin

wannaBe Wed 21-Oct-09 13:25:35

they smell. Are incontinent and wee microscopically on every surface they touch <shudder>

They are essentially vermin.

But they are supposed to be inteligent and less nippy than hamsters, and afaik aren't nocturnal.

I wouldn't personally have them as pets but IMO every hanimal has its lovers and haters - I have birds and I know plenty of people who don't like those.

Just thought I'd give the opposing view wink

wannaBe Wed 21-Oct-09 13:27:05

hanimal? animal. blush

WailingGhoshe Wed 21-Oct-09 13:43:53

We have had rats for years, currently have Onyx and Opal, two females who are two years old.

The mindees love them, especially an autistic little boy I had recently, he would watch them for ages.

trellism Wed 21-Oct-09 13:50:12

I kept rats for years and they are lovely. They are social creatures, unlike hamsters which are solitary, and seek out and enjoy human company.

Buy a cage that is much, much bigger than you think you will need as it will probably be about the right size.

I used wood based cat litter to line the cage and yes, you do need to change it regularly. In my experience some ratties smell more than others - in fact it was my last three girls who were the whiffiest of all, but you can keep on top of it by cleaning out the cage vv regularly.

My cautions would be that, as for all caged pets owned by children, you will be doing the lion's share of their care and upkeep and this will include cleaning out their cage thoroughly at least once a week and lugging around bags of food and litter.

Any caged pet also produces a lot of dust and extra general cleaning, and you will need somewhere to store their supplies. They do not live for very long, which is hard enough to deal with as an adult, let alone as a child.

They will also usually need a trip to the vet's when you first get them to clear a (non infectious to humans) mite infestation that they all seem to get. One injection will clear it.

Ensure also that you buy your rats from a reputable breeder or decent pet shop. I have come across pet shop owners that do not separate male and female babies to ensure a constant supply of livestock which can lead to severe health problems due to inbreeding, and temperament issues due to lack of any handling.

I have two cats now - I loved my rats but really, cats are so much less bother grin

haggisaggis Wed 21-Oct-09 13:52:16

We have 3 boys and they can be a bit smelly - and mine do wee and poo outside teh cage so we tend to do cage free time where we can clean up easily. But they are cute. They will sleep on me or beside me when I watch teh TV and will come to teh cage whenever you go past. If possible tr and get them from a breeder rather than a pet shop - most pet shop rats come from teh rat equivalent of puppy farms - and so are not used to being handled. For good advice go to fancy rats.
The cage you need is huge and costs about £ 100 by the way!!

Mmmcoffee Wed 21-Oct-09 13:52:36

I've had 7 in total, but only two at a time! They are lovely, we only had one that was nippy and he was a big old albino we borrowed to mate with our Daisy. The babies were gorgeous and Daisy was a lovely mum, so cute to watch her look after the little ones.

All mine lived for 3-4 years except one which had cancer, he still managed just over 2 even with two lots of surgery! The vet thought I was mad.

They are not smelly at all (at least the females aren't), I had two in my uni dorm and hid them in the wardrobe whenever the cleaners or inspectors came around, and they DID sniff for 'interesting' smells in our rooms! Never got found out. They are easily trained and very affectionate.

moosemama Wed 21-Oct-09 14:18:16


Dh and I kept rats for years when we were first married. Females do not wee everywhere they go, males do leave tiny drops here and there as a means of marking their territory.

There is some basic information on this site.

Imo they make great pets for children as long as you are willing to either do most of the practical care or supervise your dc while he/she does it. You will also need to supervise the handling at least to begin with while your dc gets used to it.

Plus points over hamsters for me are that that they actually like to be with people and don't sink their teeth into your finger down to the bone and not let go like hamsters do! (guess what pet I had as a chid).

moosemama Wed 21-Oct-09 14:19:12

Sorry haggisaggis, crossposted the link.

morethanyoubargainfor Wed 21-Oct-09 15:10:13

you can also get rats sfrom animal rescue charities. We certainly had two of ours like that.

muggglewump Wed 21-Oct-09 15:13:41

I was going to get a cage like this, but about half that size again tall if that makes sense?
It's in the pet shop, but doesn't come with toys so I'll be buying them, and then we'll get/make more once we see what our rats like.

I also hope to have them out daily.

Will that be OK?

LadyOfTheFlowers Thu 22-Oct-09 10:28:23

Looks like a good cage muggle.

I had mine in a giant fishtank that leaked when used as an aquarium - stopped the cats getting to them and the rats loved 'playing' with the cats thru the glass!

I didnt think females weed everywhere either? I know they can come into season but I just didnt take them out on those days, and it was just a couple of days, if that, and only when very young.

stealthsquiggle Thu 22-Oct-09 10:34:03

DS would really love to have rats, one day. I am not convinced as it is me who feeds the cat and feeds/cleans out the chickens and I don't really want to add another job to the list, and also because we have the wild vermin variety in the garden and periodically in the roof, and I can't help feeling that having a pet female one would attract them even more - it would, wouldn't it?

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