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Anyone have a pet rat?

(19 Posts)
ImSoTakei Thu 13-Oct-16 21:17:46

What are they like? Loud? Messy? Do they interact with you?

DS wants a pet. Have ruled out dog and cat

Thought of rabbit but would have to be hoyse and the videos of poo covered living rooms has put me off and I think they are just too much work.

Guinea pigs scare me.

Don't want anything that requires heat lamps and such.

I think a rat would be nice but have no clue about them

70isaLimitNotaTarget Fri 14-Oct-16 13:24:58

Look up some of RattieofCatans posts.

Like most small furries, they need to be in a group to flourish.
Rattie will advice three (then when one inevitably 'goes' you don't have a lone one)
Still want rats ? wink

Guinea-pigs are the most unscary rodents ever, DD and I have 5 at the moment , only one of them (my ruby eyed Himalayan ) a bit bitey (and its only if you pick her up wrong or she gets a scare. Understandable )

The words "DS wants a pet" will have all the Small Pets crowd telling you "Don't get a pet for a child"
I 100% agree. My DD and I love the piggies but who is out there at 6.30am feeding them? Yes, me.
TBH, my hogs make 40% of the pooh and eat 40% of the food so its as quick to feed 5 as 2.
DD does her share , it is hard work for her too.

And allergies.
You need to make sure your DS isn't allergic to fur or things like bedding.
My DD is fine with some coat types but our currant boar and the one prior to him, she is pretty allergic to (I said I'll take the boar, she refused grin )

TheLegendOfBeans Fri 14-Oct-16 13:27:22

Just FYI my friend kept two lady Dumbo rats. They are docile and friendly and can be held very easily and trained to do little fetch and carry tricks.

Again, do all your research; they are quite big so a large cage will be needed but as I'm allergic to cats and dogs I thought about these for my family when my DD is a bit older.

froglou Fri 14-Oct-16 22:20:55

There poop is smelly because there food has some meat in it, but as long as you're keeping on top of it they're lovely pets. Theyre less aggressive than hamsters and they're more social and handleable than rabbits and don't need neutering or yearly injections. They're best in pairs or groups however if a rat is all ready on its own it'll be fine just don't separate from a group as it'll be stressful for them.
Rats need paper pellets (not wood shavings!!) bedding so bedding allergies aren't an issue it's fur allergies you need to be careful off.

To sum they're great pets and don't smell as long as you keep up with cleaning them!

ThatsWotSheSaid Fri 14-Oct-16 22:25:52

Rat should be kept in at least pairs. With daily interaction (I'd aim for at least an hour a day) they make the best pets ever.

happy2bhomely Fri 14-Oct-16 22:42:36

We have 3 girl rats. They are fantastic pets. They are very sociable. They need interaction every day and are very smart. They are not timid like rabbits and guinea pigs. They are confident and friendly and like being handled. One of ours has nipped once because a finger was put through the bars of the cage.

They are like mini puppies. They are dumbo rats and they are very pretty to look at. One of ours lets my daughter bath it and dry it and fluff it up. It lies on her back on my daughters lap while she tickles her tummy and makes cute noises. It sits in her dressing gown pocket while she wanders round the house. It sits on her shoulder while she's doing homework. It even licks her and likes to snuggle up around her neck.

They are a tad smelly, but no worse than a dog. Ours are trained to use a litter box inside their cage. They are cleaned out twice a week.

They play fight a bit in the evening, but don't disturb us over night. They are awake for long periods during the day.

My dd is 8 and she does everything for them. I just oversea the hygiene side of it. I think the only reason more people don't have them is because of their tails!

Alibobbob Fri 14-Oct-16 22:48:04

How about gerbils? We used to have two lovely gerbils.

strawberrypenguin Fri 14-Oct-16 22:52:15

Rats make fab pets. They are active and love to be handled. Get girl ones as they smell less. Ideally you want a pair but I have have had a single (she was on her own in the shop) and just had her out a lot. She used to ride around the house on my shoulder. They do need a decent sized cage too.

RattieOfCatan Mon 17-Oct-16 10:18:48

I have rats smile Quite a few of them grin 4 boys and 5 girls currently.

As the others have said, rats need to be in pairs or groups preferably. As 70 says, I would always recommend 3 because if there is an accident or something, or if one dies then you don't need to worry about having one loner left.
I have had loners twice, one was a boy who couldn't safely be kept with other rats as he had masses of health/social issues, this is quite rare and if we didn't have working schedules that allowed one of us to be home with him most days I would never have kept him, he was out for at least 5 hours a day having cuddles, sitting in our lap, running around and so on. The second loner was when one of our old boys died last November, our old boy who remained got very depressed and in March we sourced him a friend (and in July they got two more friends!) somehow both of the old boys are still going confused

I'd always say that for your first pair/trio you want them from a good, family friendly breeder. You may have to wait on a waiting list for rats from such a breeder. This is because pet shop rats often come from rodent farms, which are Not Nice Places, their lineage is unknown and they often are more prone to health issues and they may be significantly more skittish due to lack of handling. Rescues are wonderful, but for your first rats you don't want to be trying to learn the ropes with rats who have an uncertain history, even babies from rescues can be a bit funny if their parents have taught them 'bad' behaviours. I have had numerous rescues but each one has been a learning curve! I don't regret any of them and love them to bits, but I'm so glad that I got my first two from a breeder! The NFRS has a list of breeders but it's worth checking locally to see if there are family friendly breeders around too who may not be on the NFRS. There's one NFRS breeder I'll never get rats from again, and then another who is now not on the NFRS list (she was though) but she is well known in the rat community in the area we've just moved from and her rats are very lovely, I will be making the 6 hour round trip to get rats from her in future as they're just so squishy and lovely!

Rats need big cages, they prefer height over floor space and a decent sized cage can get expensive. The bare minimum cage would be the Ferplast Jenny, it's the 'token' rat cage that pet shops tend to stock.
You want to look at a range of cages really, not just ones marketed at rats. It's worth knowing that rabbit and guinea pig cages often aren't suitable as the bar spacing is too big, you're looking at 1cm bar spacing preferably if you have babies. Aviaries make great rat cages. It depends on if you want substrate or fleece (fleece can get smelly quicker, but substrate can be messier and isn't great in aviaries!) and other factors. Rats need lots of height breakers in high cages, hammocks are perfect for this and rats usually like lots of hammocks.

Paper pellets are great for substrate but it's worth trying out some other alternatives too. We've just switched from paper pellets to aubiose, which seems okay (I'm currently undecided if I like it but DH loves it!), as we have upgraded to a massive cage which was taking a 30L bag of cat litter a week. Other common alternatives include megazorb and finacard. Ratrations is a wonderful site to get rat bits from and they sell substrate in large quantities, however you can get a lot of good beddings locally if you have garden centres that sell equestrian products, a lot of equestrian beddings are suitable for rats and you can buy it by the bale, makes things much cheaper.

You need to check with vets in your area as to whether they have any small animal specialists and, preferably, a rodentologist. Not many do have rodentologists and I was very lucky with my last vet, but this vet in my new place has a staff made up almost entirely of small animal specialists, the two I've seen in the three visits last month have been brilliant! A good vet is very important with rats as a lot of cat and dog vets just don't know that much about them. In my last practice I often would walk in and end up telling them exactly what meds I needed (I have had quite a few ill rats, this really isn't common but rats are prone to respiratory issues so you do want a good vet if you need to get them treated! They are also prone to tumours, but there isn't a huge amount you can do about that unfortunately.)

Rats really are like little dogs, they're great fun and you can train them using copious amounts of ferret malt paste my girls are particularly good at being trained food motivated but what I love about them is how each of them has their own personality and I love watching how they develop.

ratspeaker Sat 22-Oct-16 21:14:57

Another rat vote.
We have 2 left out of the 4 sisters we started with, they're about 2 and a half years old.
They're really friendly, come and twitch whiskers through the bars if you are near the cage.
Agree with rattie s advise.

We use lots of fabric hammocks, they're easy to remove and clean , just chuck them in machine ( after removing ratty hidden stuff) much easier than plastic shelves or pods which need scrubed out.

We use paper based substrate in the cages. Used to use megazorb but I kind of dislike its smell.

We have a corner poop tray, easy to take out and clean.

ratspeaker Sat 22-Oct-16 21:18:12

Oh, if you do get rats dont use sawdust or woodshavings in the cage

HarryPottersMagicWand Sat 22-Oct-16 23:39:05

Another vote for rats. We have 2 girls and they are amazing. They are supposed to be the DCs but they don't really bother so make sure you are prepared to look after them.

If we go near the cage, they are there, they are so friendly and lovely. They love to have a little lick of my fingers. Unfortunately mine don't seem to be calming down with age and they won't sit on us or be carried around without running around inside my clothes but they are so loving. They really do have their own little personalities. Like dogs but no hassle of daily walks and they don't make the house stink.

Definitely do some research first. There are some good forums out there and I got a good book from Amazon. They eat pretty much anything but there are a few things you shouldn't give them.

Second the advice about vets. I found one but one time I took mine and it was a different vet and she gave me totally the wrong advice and told me to separate them. I knew she was wrong so ignored this but it cost me a visit which was annoying so now I always check it's a certain vet.

Wolfiefan Sat 22-Oct-16 23:43:32

Rattieofcatan that's a really helpful and informative post! You really know your stuff. I had rats many years ago. If I ever succumb again can you be my ratty guru?!
grin
Rats are amazing pets. I miss my Oscar rat who was the biggest character ever. Really friendly and intelligent and one in a million.

RattieOfCatan Sun 23-Oct-16 15:12:59

Having been using aubiose for a few days now I much prefer paper based pellets and I'd go as far as to say that aubiose is unsuitable for older rats with hind leg degeneration. It is absolutely fine for mobile rats though (but I still prefer paper based pellets!), just be careful with your oldies: I really regret switching Howl onto it last week as I think that it made his last few days a lot more uncomfortable than they needed to be, poor thing. We are going to stick with aubiose now though as our old boy is gone but I'll be switching the boys to paper based pellets if our other old boy starts to show signs of progressive HLD.

Another thought: It's worth knowing that rats don't tend to bite/nip, but there are times when they may. A well handled/bred rat normally won't nip at all tbh. I say nip because rats have very fine control over their jaws; if they want to bite you, they could do so very easily and you'd know it. Nipping is more common and may break the skin/scratch you but again, well handled rats generally don't nip without reason. I've been bitten once and that was because I was being a dick (messing with a Mummy Rat's 3wo babies, not a good plan!) and apart from having one rescue who broke skin every time we put our hands in the cage for the first few months of owning her, I've very rarely had my skin broken by a rat.

Babies will often "test bite", very rarely will they do it very hard and it doesn't break the skin (it feels like a pinch or a grab really) but it's very normal, if they do it harder than you're comfortable with then eep at them to let them know. It's like how human babies will gum everything, a rat baby explores using their mouths too. Our two 2 year old girls still grab us when we play with them, though we never discouraged it tbh and they think it's fucking hilarious to grab our toes when we're distracted hmm grin

If your normally happy-to-be-handled rat bites and breaks skin/seems defensive, it's usually a sign that something is wrong. Usually injury or illness related. Even then, it's not common for a well handled rat to do this, I can count on one hand the amount of times I've had my skin broken by an ill/injured rat, even then I don't think it's happened more than two/three times by the 13 rats we've had!

wolfie blush I am slightly obsessed grin We have had a few with issues as well so I've ended up having to do a little more research, especially WRT medical issues, than most people would need to ever do!

LadyDeadpool Sun 23-Oct-16 15:25:09

Awww Rattie I didn't realise Howl had passed sad I am sorry for your loss.

I have 5 boys and 3 girls right now and they are beautiful, funny and quite dim at times but always enormously loving. I have various mental health issues and they help me so much because they ask so little but give so much.

Be warned though they like chewing. I swear my laptop charger is more electrical tape than plastic wire covering now. They've even started eating my printer! grin

If I stick my fingers in the cage they fight each other for the chance to get scritches and lick my fingers.

There's another thread in chat I think and I've just posted some pictures on it but I'll put some different ones here because I love bragging about my babies grin

The first is my original girl rat Castiel who is responsible for my entire families obsession, the second are the boy babies from our rescue female who had been kept in a cage with two males and inevitably ended up having a litter most of which stayed with us as it's rather hard work finding the perfect homes. smile

TroysMammy Sun 23-Oct-16 17:56:28

Does anyone know of any breeders in the Swansea, Carmarthenshire, Neath Port Talbot areas please? Nothing listed on the NFRS website. Thanks.

HarryPottersMagicWand Sun 23-Oct-16 22:59:51

Yes to the chewing!

We went on holiday in the summer and our relatives who had them last time found it a struggle as he wasn't confident to carry the rats to the bathroom so was dragging the cage in and opening it but he couldn't keep doing this.

I had a brainwave to leave the cage open in my bathroom and he could come over every other day to do the food and water. Rats had their home plus free run time whenever they wanted.

They have chewed a hole in my bathroom floor, behind the toilet. It's impressive, I don't know how they even started it. Problem is we can't let them out alone in there now as they go straight for the hole and start working on it again. I stuff a towel in the hole and they try to chew through that to get to the hole, and they try and pull it out. They can get right under the house now. My relative said they would always come back but I don't want to risk losing them or them making the hole bigger, which they will.

I've bought some decent hammocks as they like sleeping in them, they are chewed to bits and look bloody awful. I'm not spending another £8 though and when I got a cheaper one, it lasted 20 minutes. I got a refund for that as it wasn't fit for purpose.

RattieOfCatan Mon 24-Oct-16 09:51:53

Lady Thank you, we took him to the vet on Friday to be PTS as he made it very clear that it was the right time for him. Your babies are gorgeous!

Totaly agree with the chewing! It depends on the rat but we have two particularly who chew everything. Do not be fooled by cable trunking and protection either, they can get through it extremely quickly! We've had our PCs blown on numerous occasions thanks to them eating through the main power cables!

RE hammocks, you don't need to buy "rat hammocks" specifically, you can use all sorts of fabric to make ad-hoc ones. We tend to buy a bulk of hammocks every 6 or so months, spend around £100 doing so and then use them until they are utterly destroyed. I don't know if you can see well from the picture but that hammock has, by some miracle, been going for over 2 years now and the bottom layer of three is currently being held up by baby rings!
If it's a scrap of fabric and has at least three hanging points, it goes back in the cage. (I've just found a photo of my boys in the santa hammock 2 years ago! We used to give the same few hammocks to them as they didn't wreck them!)

You can buy all sorts of cheap things to make hammocks/hidey holes/toys with though and recycle things. T-shirts are great for cutting up, jeans are brilliant and last ages (cut them up or put children's clothes in whole! One of the photos is my old trio of boys on a leg from old jeans. My Ghibli boys, the last of whom was PTS on Friday but all three were wonderful in their own ways), tissue boxes are wonderful hidey holes as Rygel is demonstrating (he and the other rat, D'Argo, are my youngest pair, four months now), loo roll tubes get thrown in though slice them lengthways as they can get stuck, amazon boxes are king in this house, they all love them, and cat food boxes were the only type of box our Ashi would sit in. Parrot toys are sound investments, they are great for chewing and climbing and are rat safe. Wine racks are brilliant to put in cages, great for climbing and chewing again.

Baby rings are great for hanging hammocks, as are metal D-rings (the latter can be bought cheaply from ebay), we find this brand of baby ring particularly good as the links are thin but sturdy:
www.amazon.co.uk/Kids-Bright-Starts-Lots-Links/dp/B001ABZGU2/ref=sr_1_1_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1477298771&sr=8-1&keywords=baby+rings
If they chew them they aren't in any danger too.

RattieOfCatan Mon 24-Oct-16 09:55:07

Gosh, please excuse the girls messy cage, it was clean out day yesterday and I wasn't feeling great so I'll be doing that this morning blush

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