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Talk to me about rats

(6 Posts)
fairyqueen Sun 14-Aug-16 18:41:06

DD14 is planning on buying a pair of rats. We've found a lovely big cage, and she's prices up everything she needs, but where is it best to get the rat from? I've only ever had hamsters from pets at home, but I'm not sure if that's the best plan. Any ideas? I'd appreciate any advice at all!!!

RattieOfCatan Sun 14-Aug-16 21:22:58

If you can avoid it, don't get rats from a pet shop. They usually come from Rodent farms which are utterly horrendous places. A good breeder is your best bet, you can find a list of breeders accredited by the National Fancy Rat Society on their website, just Google "NFRS breeders list" and it should take you straight to it smile you may have to be willing to be added to a waiting list and to travel a short while, usually breeders waiting lists aren't too long, they are also longer if you want specifics so if you're happy with either two boys or two girls of any variety you'll likely get rats sooner, whereas if you want dumbos or a specific colour you may have to wait a while depending on what they are breeding. I'd recommend just going for two generally, you can always get specifics later!

Your daughter has obviously done her research if she wants a pair,i would suggest considering a trio. Rats can have accidents or illnesses that may leave you with just one unexpectedly, and they get very lonely when alone, so you don't want to be in a situation of needing to find another rat quickly to replace lost rat. We have a situation when our first boys were small and one needed an op to remove his eye, we were scrabbling around contacting breeders for a few days when we weren't sure if he'd make it. Ironically he did make it but nearly two years later his brother needed an eye removed and didn't, we had the one left alone for 4/5 months and he was miserable, finally found a companion for him in March and now they have two more companions, but it would have made life much easier had we form for three originally!

What cage are you looking at? Get the biggest you can afford, bigger is always better with rats! If you're looking for hammocks this woman makes brilliant ones, they've withstood our girls attempts to destroy them more than others we've bought: bettysbeds.com

With some initial investment you can sort food really cheaply by making your own mixes, much better than shop mixes and cheaper on a monthly basis, but you need to buy a lot of ingredients at the start to make it up, usually costs me £120ish every 6 or so months to make enough to feed 7 rats in that time, much much cheaper than standard mixes! I have 9 now and they are currently eating ridiculous amounts, I'm interested to see how long my next batch will last!

Also keep in mind to put money aside for the vet each month, rats are prone to respiratory issues and to tumours, some may go without ever needing to see a vet or going a couple of times in their life, some will need semi-regular treatments. Check out your local vets, make sure that they have small animal specialists or, better still, a rodentologist, and call to check how much they charge for routine appointments, a prescription of something like baytril or metacam or veraflox (common meds for rats to need, the middle is a pain killer and the other two are antibiotics) and for tumour removals or other ops. Better to know before you need to use those services!

RattieOfCatan Sun 14-Aug-16 21:27:16

I wouldn't advise rescues for your first pair. We have had rescues and we love/loved them, but they have had their issues and have required a lot of time and effort and they have been difficult. They are definitely worth getting further down the line, but I'd really recommend getting young ones from a breeder for your first ones as you can get to know what rats are like and their behaviours and what's normal or not without worrying about issues that rescues often have!

fairyqueen Sun 14-Aug-16 22:39:30

Thanks for all the info. She's busy on the NFRS website now. I'm
Slightly concerned now about the amount of medical attention it sounds like they require. Sounds like they are far less straightforward than hamsters! What's with the eye removal. Is it very common? She's ordered a large but empty cage and are planning on building floors etc ourselves. Found a great website with ideas - making ropes and hammocks should be fun! (And they will be well made as I'm into sewing!)

RattieOfCatan Mon 15-Aug-16 07:16:32

Don't panic,medical attention isn't that common, i just have had a few rats who are prone to injury and illness ;) eye removal isn't that common, the first time was a freak accident where my boy git poked in the eye when play fighting and it ruptured his iris, so eye needed to come out, the second time was a type of tumour that is uncommon but does happen occasionally.

Mammary tumours generally are common though and they are something that you need to be aware of. Tbh, you can usually go without treating them as the only "treatment" they really use is removal, and they can come back. Most owners just leave them until they either are preventing quality of life or unless they require attention. We have two with tumours at the moment, our very old one eyed boy who is somehow still alive despite being 2 and 9 months and having had constant respiratory issues his entire life, he has one on his testicles, we noticed it in March and it's grown a little but has been fine so we've left it. One of our girls has one too which we noticed a few weeks back, she's coming up to two we think (rescue so not sure on age) and whilst it's growing it's going at a slow and steady pace, so we're waiting until it's bigger until we decide whether we get it removed.

Out of my rats Ive had three who have required regular treatment for something that was out of my control (respiratory problems for the first two boys so trips to pick up meds every 6 weeks or so for them and I had a boy who had special needs, so I took him on knowing that he would need regular vet trips). With the rest of them I have had a few vet trips but not many, one or two per rat in the two/three years that they are alive, so not common! We don't treat every snuffle as often there are reasons for snuffling, but you'll learn the difference between a snuffle and respiratory problems that require treatment in time! Injuries often don't need treatment, cuts heal very quickly so just need to be kept clean and broken bones heal ridiculously fast so whilst you may want some metacam to dull the pain for them they often won't need any vet help!

It may be worth getting a smaller second cage as a spare/hospital/holiday cage just in case too.

lu9months Thu 18-Aug-16 22:30:45

rats make fabulous pets. I've been won over by ours, wasn't keen to start. they need large cages and lots of hammocks, ladders, tubes etc, to keep them interested , it sounds like you're doing lots of research. and lots of cuddling. the average life is around 2 years.

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