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Old 11-04-2005, 11:23 PM   #16  
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Hey Kate,

Great names!

Some rats are real chewers, some aren't. Pinky and Gussy chewed alot more when they were younger than when they grew older. I was really surprised they never chewed the hammock much at all. I didn't think about it first, because I had read the suggestion on a rat website, so I assumed it was safe.

The plastic items I was a little more concerned with (for choking more than safety, since I figured if it weren't toxic to cats or birds, which also sometimes eat their toys, it would probably be ok for the rat), so when I first put toys in, I'd watch them carefully and check over the toys every day to see if there were any problems, but they never really chewed plastic at all (maybe it tastes yucky).

I also put in dog biscuits and "greenies" for them to chew on. Lab blocks are the most balanced diet, and they're nice and hard so it wears on their teeth, though I've also fed them petstore rodent food (that listed rats on the label).

I have to admit that I am horrible when it comes to treats, although neither of my rats were overweight. I fed them the basic diet and a little bit of fresh veggies, but supplemented with pet treats and tiny bits of table food. One of their absolute favorites was little soft cat treats (liver, tuna, salmon, or chicken flavor). These are really rich, though so you don't want to give them more than a couple a week.

Rats can get "spoiled" when it comes to treats. Sometimes Pinky would take a little treat from me, and drop it on the floor and stick her paws through the cage bars for a "better" choice (I bought a box of hard cat biscuits they were only about the size of a small grape. The flavors were supposed to be cheese, liver, chicken, and vegetable. Pinky liked the cheese and the liver, but would drop the chicken and veggie until I gave her the preferred flavor, then she would run to the bottom of her cage and eat her treat. Raisins and pistachios were never dropped either, nor pieces of fresh fruit, like a little piece of apple or a strawberry. When I wasn't around, she'd eat the dropped bits, but she definitely would sucker me into giving her the treat she wanted.

Pinky was more a sucker for people food than Gussy. Once, I gave her a little cracker corner with a little cheese spread on it. She just about went nuts. She ate it, and then licked her little paws clean, and then some. She got up on the cage bars (front and back paws off the ground) and just shook - begging for more. Even the next evening, she threw the same little fit when I walked in the room, and dropped all three treats I tried to give her (I never gave her more than three little treats, including the dropped ones, so she rarely dropped the third treat even if it wasn't a "good" one).

They're so funny! They will train you if you let them.

One other thing. Not many rats are amused for long with the running wheels." And the rat size ones are often fairly expensive. Babies can use the hamster wheels, and since you can find them so much cheaper, it's worth "trying" the hamster wheel while they still fit in it. Then if they like it, you can buy a rat wheel when they grow out of it. If they ignore it, you're not out as much money.

Neither of my rats went for the wheel at all (though I hear that males are more likely to use the wheel than females), but both liked the plastic rat-sized "hamster balls," although they just sat it in the first few times. It took them a while to realize that they could explore in it. You really have to get the rat size ones, and with males you may actually eventually have to get the ferret sized balls - if they're a solid ball with air holes instead of air slits. You don't want a ball with slits large enough for their tail can get caught in.

If you're a dog person, you wil LOVE rats, because as you handle them more and more they will just eat up the attention, and act like little doggies.

One warning that many women rat owners should know. They seem to catch on real quick that a bra (while the wearer is still in it) makes the BEST hammock. You will either learn to accept it (and the sight and feel of a rat peeking out of your cleavage) or teach them early that this isn't a place you want them to be, especially since your little guys will grow up to be at least a pound a piece. (Hey but what an interesting way to fill out a DD bra, if you only need a AA or B).


Colleen
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Old 11-05-2005, 07:17 AM   #17  
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I use to have one as a kid, it was call Roland after a kids TV show about a Rat called Roland! I am sure some UK people would rememember that!
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Old 11-05-2005, 08:58 AM   #18  
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Default Hmmm,

I had a pet rat once.

I married the summ*****.

I don't have a pet rat anymore.

PDX
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Old 11-05-2005, 10:54 AM   #19  
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Ahhhh ...

I have enjoyed the company of 3 pet rats over the years ~ Hubert, Scooter and JellyBean (1 boy, 2 girls).

They are awesome pets and quite smart. They can be quite entertaining as well.

They are lucky boys to have found someone so caring to take them in.


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Old 11-05-2005, 02:11 PM   #20  
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When our son was little he had a pet rat named "Sniffy". He was very tame and would love to be petted. We let him run loose sometimes and he eventually managed to chew through all of our venetian blinds cords! Once, I opened the front door to greet a friend with Sniffy on my shoulder and she really freaked out! I would sometimes forget that not everyone loves rats . They make great pets because their litter doesn't smell awful like that of mice and hamsters.

We also had a huge pet tarantula "Harry Spider" that we found on our front lawn - we lived in Southern California at the time. I didn't pet Harry but he was quite friendly (for a spider).
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Old 11-05-2005, 08:15 PM   #21  
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What a cool thread! Now I can gush about my two baby boys to people other than on the South Beach Diet thread ! I just got 2 rats as pets last Sunday. They are two little boys, Percival and Alfred. Percival is a white "lab rat" with the pink eyes and Alfred is white with a black head and shoulders. They are about 3 months old and are a little longer than my palm. They're so sweet and are starting to calm down and not be so skittish. I bought them a cage called The Rat Lounge. It's a decent size for two soon to be adult rats. I put in a hammock which they havent used yet, a bed shaped like a car which they chewed up, and an igloo that they like to nest in. They really have cool little unique personalities. Alfred is more mischievious and Percival is more gentle and calm. They also do this weird teeth grinding thing when they're happy. Sort of like a cat's purr. Today for the first time they climbed out of their cage onto my arms all on their own. I was a proud rat mama, that's for sure. I'm so happy with my new babies. And my dog and cat don't seem to mind them at all. The rats even try to climb all over the dog. It's a little soon for me to trust them doing that but maybe in the future. My dog seems so concerned about them and is always licking and sniffing them. So, if you can't tell already, YES!!!, rats make fabulous pets!!! Have fun with yours!
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Old 11-05-2005, 08:26 PM   #22  
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I'm getting so EXCITED now!!

Thanks so much for sharing all your rat experiences! It's not the kind of animal I ever would have thought of getting -- I've had turtles, geckos, fish, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, etc. but never even THOUGHT about rats! And I'm thrilled to have just kind of stumbled into this!

I can't wait to see how my Basset reacts to the rats -- she was (I swear) totally in love with my Mexican mud turtle. They used to hang out together sometimes (supervised, of course). She kept going to the corner of the study where his aquarium had been for weeks after he died -- I really think she was looking for him . I bet she'll LOVE the rats.

Colleen, thanks for the tips. I forget if I asked you about rope...there are a lot of hanging bird toys that have rope and bells and things. Are those okay for rats? And I was looking at a sisal bird perch (about 12 inches long) for them to crawl on...is sisal (rope) okay? I'm soooo ignorant about rats!

LOL. I spent the afternoon re-organizing the spare bedroom so the rat cage will be in a nice corner spot .

I'll keep everyone posted....I'm hoping I can bring them home before the end of the semester as the rat unit ends on Friday.
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Old 11-06-2005, 12:49 AM   #23  
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Hi Kate,

I think any bird toy will be fine for the rats (birds chew their toys too, and the have much more delicate respiratory and digestive systems than rats), so you'll be fine.
The hammock rope was soft and cottony, but I also had a hanging toy that was brightly colored wood beads on a raffia type rope with dyed seashells and jingley bells, and such (it was a monstrosity for parrots). I thought it would really peak their interest, but they ignored it completely.

toys that have hiding spots are great, like the little igloo "doghouses." Rats will tip food and drink bowls every time, so use a lab bottle for drinking water. My rat cage opened on the top level, so that's were I put the food bowl. I bought a little ceramic bowl and had to "ziptie" it to the cage or it would be dumped out five minutes after I filled it. Even so, Pinky especially would pick out the "best bits" and run all the way down to the bottom (aquarium tank) and hide them in the litter. Gussy would eat bits in front of me, but Pinky always ran to the bottom of the tank in a corner.

A fun rat game (that I found online) is to put a towel in the bottom of the tub (for traction and to contain the rat or rats), and put a pan of water (no deeper than a couple inches) in the tub with some frozen peas or corn, and let them "fish." This is also great to get them used to water, so if you do have to bathe them, they don't panic in the tub or sink.

They usually will clean themselves very well, but if they get something yucky on their fur you don't want them to eat, or if they've gotten super stinky, you can wash them with a little kitten/puppy shampoo. If there's just one icky spot, spot clean with a damp cloth. If they need a full bath, you may be able to give them a bath under softly running warm water without too much trouble, just avoid getting shampoo/water in their eyes and nose. I always washed them only up to just behind the ears. Gussy never did get used to it, but Pinky actually seemed to enjoy the warm water, unless ANY water got on her face. Then again, I had to wash Pinky more often because she didn't seem to mind being stinky and would lay in the same spot she wet. Gussy had much better hygeine, and if you picked her up and sniffed her fur, she almost always smelled nice and clean.

Funny little critters. Each does very much have it's own personality.

Colleen

There are some great books on rat care, and most are fairly cheap. I can't remember the title of the one I had, but it had a rat sitting on a rubik's cube and was something about owning and training pet rats. You'll have to learn to look for signs of their teeth being overgrown, so you know when to have their teeth trimmed if necessary. You can do it at home, but if you're afraid to, a vet will do it fairly cheaply (often under $10.00). Gussy's teeth grew faster than normal because her teeth didn't line up properly, and even so I only had to have it done every four to six months. For Pinky only once or twice a year, and some rats chew enough to do fine on their own (the "concrete" type chewing block can help). If you do it yourself, use a cat's nail trimmer (the kind that the claw is supposed to stick through a little hole and a little guiottine cuts off the claw). You might want to watch the vet do it at least once, because you don't want to trim them too short.
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Old 11-06-2005, 04:40 PM   #24  
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Thumbs up

Happened to see this thread and thought I'd pipe in also. I was never a rat person but our youngest dd has had about every pet ever thought about, including a really cool female rat named Kitty. I was scared to death of Kitty at first as I am not fond of rats, mice, gerbils, etc. She won over my heart, though. Kitty lived 4 years and was one of the best pets we've ever had. DH is a Special Ed. teacher and Kitty lived in his classroom during the school year for a couple of years, so dd could play with her after school and at our home during school breaks. The kids love her and Kitty was their reward if they got their work done on time. She never bit anyone so she was a safe pet for the classroom.

DD had a gerbil and a mouse prior to Kitty and neither of them were as hardy or nice as Kitty (the mouse liked to bite and was an escape artist). Kitty never got out of her cage on her own. We had a cat in the house always and never had any problems. The cat and Kitty would watch each other but we never left Kitty outside her cage alone.

DD rescued a rat named Splinter during her first year of college. Poor thing had lived in a cage in a basement it's whole life. When its owner graduated, dd's roommate had said she would take it but never did go get it. It lived for a month without anyone caring for it. Splinter was a bit more reclusive than Kitty had been (I think he'd been neglected and maybe even abused). But, he was still sweet and had a good last year of life. Just this weekend, she came home from college with a hairless rat for a friend as they couldn't find one locally. I'd never seen one before but it seemed pretty sweet also.

I would definitely recommend a pet rat as they are so much calmer and easy to take care of than many other pets. And, 10 years ago, I'd probably have said you were crazy if anyone had said I'd ever utter words of praise for a rat.
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Old 11-15-2005, 09:18 PM   #25  
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Currently I have 8 of the little ladies They do make wonderful pets They're like a dog and a cat combined in a cute little rattie body!! Not to mention if you do something wrong in their eyes, they yell at you! The picture of the hooded black and white you showed is so adorable! Looks kind of like my Gus!

Boy rats get quite big and I've noticed are love peeing on the whites of their hair while it seems females are quite cleaner and take pride in their coats

However, they are tons of fun and make wonderful pets
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Old 11-15-2005, 11:59 PM   #26  
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This thread has made me so ratsick that I had to make a trip to the petstore. My husband was a little reluctant as we can't have pets in our apartment, and he thought I would fall in love with one I couldn't take home.

Well, he was right. But I still had so much fun watching all the little critters.

(FYI: hooded rats are white rats with a solid colored head (hood) and matching stripe down their back. If they have no stripe, they are called capped rats).

There was a lovely hooded female that I would have loved to take home. She was all white, with a champagne blonde hood and instead of a solid spine stripe, there was a neat column of matching spots down her back. She was just so CUTE!!!

For a petstore, I was amazed at all the different coat colors/patterns.

I SO cannot wait until we can have pets again!

Colleen
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