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Any tips for a first time pet rat owner?

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CrapBag Mon 18-May-15 21:00:14

DCs have been begging for a pet. I am allergic to many animals so most were out anyway. I was doing some research and it said that rats made good pets so I looked into it and we now have a pair of female rats.

They are nervous, the lady in the shop told us that. The kids are begging to hold them but there is just no way. I have a lare shallow box that we have been putting them in for a little bit just to get them used to coming out and being near us. Today one actually jumped out of the box! Thankfully I was there and grabbed her.

Any tips for me on handling them, how long, how often, should we force it etc etc?

They are 11 weeks old.

MrsNippyCat Mon 18-May-15 21:04:17

Patience and confidence. I find sitting with an arm in the cage helps them to see you're ok, a tshirt (not a favourite though!) in their cage helps them to get used to your scent and obviously treats are the eay to a rat's heart!

They will come round, some are quicker than others but they're all worth the patience. Smashing pets, you're all going to get a lot of fun and love from them.

What are you calling them?

MrsNippyCat Mon 18-May-15 21:07:06

Also, be confident when you're feeding them or doing any spot cleaning in the cage. Just go in and do what you're doing - they'll get curious and start coming over to see what's happening.

CrapBag Mon 18-May-15 21:08:28

T shirt is a good idea. I keep going over to their cage and talking to them and putting my hand in for them to smell. They have a sniff then run away generally. Carrot seems to have gone down well with them. They are very cute and I'm dying to have a proper cuddle with them. Nearly everyone's reaction has been "urrgghh!" but the DCs are chuffed to bits with them.

They are called Molly and Anna. DCs named them. Anna was almost Elsa. grin

MrsNippyCat Mon 18-May-15 21:11:59

Pop a tshirt in over night, it's a nice snug bed apart from anything else. It's good they're coming over, that's a great start.

Youngsters are fab, but as you already realised, very fast!!!

Just watch with carrots, if they have a lot it can make their poo orange!

Nice names smile

CrapBag Mon 18-May-15 21:33:40

grin thanks for the orange poo tip. I would have been a bit alarmed at that.

Now I need to find a top that I don't mind getting trashed.

Definitely fast! I have to hold on pretty tight when I get them out. Couldnt believe it when Molly jumped out of the box and did it straight away again after, then kept running around during looking for somewhere else to jump out as I kept putting my hand at the top. She's not daft! No way the DCs can attempt to hold them yet.

MrsNippyCat Mon 18-May-15 21:48:36

Try them in the bath until the kids get usef to handling them and they get used to being picked up and held.

Another thing that freaks you the hell out if you don't know about it is porphyrin - it looks like blood round their nose or eyes. Happens when they're stressed or ill but isn't blood.

CrapBag Mon 18-May-15 22:13:02

Good tip about the bath thanks. Will do that and hopefully they can't jump out of there smile.

Didn't know about porphyrin either so thanks for that. DCs would definitely panic if they thought the rats were hurt.

QueenofLouisiana Mon 18-May-15 22:24:39

We have 2 boys- had them about 2 weeks. They now collect food from us and come for a nosy when people are around. Ours enjoy fruit, salad and mealworms.

We make ratty toys out of tubes and shredded paper- stuff food in the middle and surround by the paper. They smell the food and have to find it. Great fun to watch and it makes them work.

Our rats love to climb- snoozing from the hammocks and swings from the top of the cage.

CrapBag Mon 18-May-15 22:45:43

I may get one of those hammocks then. They have a big tube from the floor to the shelf, I bought a wheel but I don't think they have used it yet. Bloody £15 that cost!

I read that they like foraging. How often did you introduce new food?

Wolfiefan Mon 18-May-15 22:48:21

Watch out for wheels. They need to be solid. If they are like hamster wheels rats can catch their tails in the gaps.
Rats are fab BTW!

CrapBag Mon 18-May-15 22:54:13

Don't worry it is a solid one. I did a bit of reading first so we would have some clue what we are doing. I say we, it's really going to be down to me. grin

Have you trained your to not be nocturnal? Ours are definitely up in the late evenings.

MrsNippyCat Tue 19-May-15 07:14:12

They love a good hammock! Have a look at Fuzzbutts and The Rat Warehouse

RattieofCatan Tue 19-May-15 07:24:29

Marking my place as im on my pad and its a bitch to post from here so will çome back on my PC smile I have 7, they are lovely creatures!

Mainly with skittish ones: patience and bribery. As the others have said, hand in cage a lot unless they're nippy and break skin. Treat them for approaching you. Put yoghurt on your fingers and let them lick it off {they may try to grab your finger at first as they won't realise that they can't walk off with the yoghurt! My two big boys look like they're going for you when you have yoghurt or peanut butter on your fingers, somewhat nerve wracking!) Peanut butter is good too and they love it but has a choking risk, we water it down and use it to give medicine.

The most important thing though is to call around vets now, you need to find one who has experience with rats, preferably a rodentologist but there aren't many about. Call local breeders from the nfrs list (if they arent too far) and ask for recommendations if you can't find anybody.

turdfairynomore Tue 19-May-15 07:29:42

My DD20 got rats at Xmas and we love them! They are so gentle and cute! They've never bitten us-though they have licked us! They love to lick soup/juice off your hands and their tiny tongues are so sweet! So are theirs gorgeous little hands! Be careful though as they are definitely fast and they can jump much higher than you expect! One of ours can get out of a box that's close to washing machine height!

RattieofCatan Tue 19-May-15 08:26:03

Get a few hammocks smile Rats love hammocks. Our girls cage has 6 in at the moment, we have bags of the things.

We find carrots also produce extremely smelly poos, just as another warning RE carrots wink

Porphyrin from the eyes can be a bit scary, moreso than from the nose. Ashi is the only one of mine to have "flooded" porphyrin from his eyes, the others have had it but only slightly, but after giving Ashi a bath when we first got him his eyes flooded with it as if it were red tears. Bloody freaky.

Make sure that the bathroom is rat-proofed before you take them into the bath though, they can get through very small gaps. One of our big boys went through this tiny gap between the wall underneath a built-in under-counter fridge the evening we got him. He hadn't even reached his cage yet. There is a gap through to the bathroom and he was under the completely sealed up bath for the night, the little sod.

Rats don't seem to use wheels often, we have a couple but our boys don't touch it at all, nor does our little loner, only the girls use one and even then it is more likely to get used as a toilet.

This girl does amazing hammocks:
www.rataccessories.co.uk/
The clammocks are fantastic.

Ours are all polysomatic, but definitely more active in the evenings and early mornings. Right now 6 out of seven of mine are dozing, if I opened a cage they'd happily jump up to play or see what I was doing though. It's usually early afternoon where it's "wake at your peril" wink
One has just been shoved off of a hammock by her sister, so I have two now running around grin

I love rats, they're so funny to watch as well as to be with. They're so full of personality as well. All of mine have been so different. I want a baby one again now. I'm getting a new girl in August/September and cannot wait smile

RattieofCatan Tue 19-May-15 09:24:42

Oh, and let them use their teeth. Rats are like toddlers, they may use their teeth to explore. They also use them to communicate, this webpage is good at explaining:
www.joinrats.com/EarningTrust/RatsUsingTeeth
If they're nipping too hard, eep at them, but don't discourage them completely. Our two "baby" (11mo!) girls still play a lot and often, when our hand are in the cage, they'll nip our fingers to get us to "chase" them. They also still popcorn if you do chase them grin It's not really painful, it's slightly uncomfortable but I'd say it's not as bad as playing with a cat when they bring their claws out and start chewing your hands. In fact some rats will play with you like a cat would, grabbing your hand and giving it a good wrestle and chew!

With girls, another thing is when they're on heat, if you touch their rump they may vibrate. It is perfectly normal and absolutely hilarious grin Only our two "babies" did it but we got them spayed at 12 weeks to help reduce the chances of tumours (rats in general are prone to them but females especially so) so they only went through season once each. Our two rescues haven't been spayed but when they're in heat they just get horny and hiss at the boys through the cage bars if they see them hmm

DawnMumsnet (MNHQ) Sat 20-Jun-15 12:30:46

Hi all,

We're moving this thread over to our Small Pets topic at the OP's request so it doesn't disappear in 90 days. smile

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