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Pet Rats (and their cages)

Discussion in 'Pre-Veterinary' started by hoodle, Apr 12, 2007.

  1. hoodle

    hoodle UC-Davis DVM/PhD 2+ Year Member

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    Dec 18, 2006
    Davis
    Hi everyone,
    My partner and I are considering adopting some pet rats. We can't get a cat yet due to where we live, but when we move we'll be getting cats (1-2 years from now). Meanwhile, we'd like relatively snuggly warm things to play with and arrange habitats for. They'll certainly be moved with us and treated as beloved family members - I just wanted you all to know that they are would be pseudo-cat substitutes. I have fond memories of rats. What do you guys think about pet rats?

    Check out this site for Ratty Housing Options http://www.dapper.com.au/grotto.htm
     
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  3. wivet2011

    wivet2011 2+ Year Member

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    Mar 9, 2007
    Gotta love rabbits and degus :love:
     
  4. Angelo84

    Angelo84 Tufts Class of 2011 10+ Year Member

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    Jan 25, 2007
    I had two rats as pets in high school. They were fun--not very cuddly though. Exploring was much more fun than staying with me. Get a latchable cage--they can pop the tops on the aquarium caging and have a great time running around. Just a heads up they generally only live about two years and if you have a wire cage make sure the bars are tight enough that the kitties (when they arrive) can't get to them. Enjoy!
     
  5. akitavet

    akitavet 2+ Year Member

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    Mar 3, 2007
    She had 4, but she just put 2 down. The big drawback with rats is that their life expectancy is like 30 months. It was pretty heartbreaking for her, and I cant imagine every 2 years or so losing your pets. Otherwise, she LOVES them.

    I will say that our vets knew very little about them and were not super confident when treating them. Having a good vet that really knows rodents well is a must.
     
  6. Cheska

    Cheska Monkey Power! 2+ Year Member

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    Apr 29, 2006
    Arizona
    I had rats in high school, and loved them but as stated above their life expectancy is not too long and it just broke my heart (and they unfortunately really creep my bf out! LOL).
    I have since moved on to get guinea pigs- they have fantastic personalities! My first one was a male, he was fairly quiet compared to my current female- she "yells" at me when she doesn't get fed on time... then she starts "yelling" at the dog and cats if I am not quick enough.
    She does this really cute "trill-purr" noise that makes me all warm and fuzzy inside :love: ! And when she gets excited, she starts running around the cage and "bucks" like a horse- super cute!!
    The only problem I have seen is that some people are terribly allergic to them, so it would be a good idea to check that out first if you get interested in them! But the cages don't have to be too big, and mine gets a pelleted diet with scraps from my salads and veggies, very low maintenance and they really don't smell too bad either!
     
  7. ratbandit

    ratbandit 2+ Year Member

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    Jan 11, 2007
    I can't stay away from rats! I've had at least 7 in the past and I just keep adopting them. As far as cuddly goes, males are usually more cuddly than females, but females smell better and are softer and they don't mark as much. They also get cuddlier as they get older. Do you know which sex you want? I will try to resize a picture of my fav. rat cage. I got a big guinea pig cage someone donated to the shelter I was working at, with a deep plastic bottom. It was about 4ftx2ftx3ft wire cage with lots of plastic shelves. Easy to clean and since they were removable shelves I could switch up the design. Also, the wires were good to string hammocks and hang other toys. My roomate had two cats and they couldn't get inside the cage. Oh and for outside the cage play I bought four pieces of this thin particle board (like 3ftx5ft) type stuff at Home Depot, cut a line almost the whole way up on each side and fit all of them together like puzzle pieces into a big square. Good for apartments b/c it makes a collapseable play pen -just take the pieces apart and put them behind the couch. I just keep a box of carboard boxes, tubes, and other fun stuff to throw in the pen while I watched tv or studied.
     
  8. kate_g

    kate_g Senior Member 2+ Year Member

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    Apr 4, 2006
    Erm... I have a cornsnake. And therefore, I have "pet" young rats for a day or two every week. :eek: Sometimes longer if the snake is about to shed, the weather is cold, or he refuses to eat for some other reason. I've also got a little experience with adult lab rats. Anyway, the two points I wanted to make are:

    An adult rat that hasn't been handled much *will* bite you, and they can really draw blood! So, if adopting older rats is your goal, get some thick gloves and be prepared to spend a while winning them over. Likewise, my young rats are always skittish at first (and they bite too, but it doesn't hurt nearly as bad). But even after just a week of frequent gentle handling they're noticeably more friendly.

    And, boy can rats jump! At least the little guys can, I've seen some clear several times their body length. So if you try ratbandit's playpen idea, make sure you make it pretty tall, and keep an eye on them!

    (BTW, some flame-retardent: Believe me I wouldn't feed live prey if I didn't have to... The snake used to eat pre-killed, but he's getting old and a couple years ago started refusing to eat anything but live.)
     
  9. hoodle

    hoodle UC-Davis DVM/PhD 2+ Year Member

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    Dec 18, 2006
    Davis
    Funny you brought snakes up... the big decision we were facing was whether to get a corn/king snake or rats. I think rats are the winner because they are easier for friends to take care of for weekends/vacations (and with less of the digusting! factor) but I absolutely adore snakes. What's your snake's name? how old is he?
     
  10. Ju4910

    Ju4910 2+ Year Member

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    Jan 5, 2007
    Florida
    Well, you can the picture of my two babies, Ham and Cheese, so of course I am going to recommend rats as pets. They were both great! They were both males and I never had a problem with them getting along. They were potty trained and loved to take baths so I never had a problem with smell. They did have lice when I first go them :) but it was easy to treat. I euthanized Ham when he was about 2 1/2 years old because he had some neurological issues and couldn't get around anymore. Cheese just died last week (the same day I got my UF rejection letter) :( he was 3 1/2 years old. Even though their life expectancy may not be as long as a cat, I would still have rats again. They loved to explore the apartment, but they were very social and would hang out with us a lot. So there is my recommendation. I think any pet you get will be great though. :D good luck
     
  11. kate_g

    kate_g Senior Member 2+ Year Member

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    Apr 4, 2006
    Heh... Uh... His name is "Fluffy." :oops: But!!! He came with the name when we adopted him. He doesn't know the difference, most of the time I actually just call him "snake," or "snakey" if I'm feeling affectionate. He's at least 12 now, maybe as old as 14. Captive lifespan is up to 20 or so, but I think he's developing a tumor so he might not get quite that far. :( He's remarkably friendly and interactive and aware of people, not traits I usually associate with reptiles.

    As far as ease of care, I'm surprised you ranked rats higher... Adult corn snakes eat only once a week in the height of the summer, and you can easily let it go for an occasional two weeks with no ill effects. Mine brumates for almost six months of the year, though that depends on your climate. For a weekend, a week, or even two weeks away, exactly *nothing* needs to be done with the snake. Youngsters eat a bit more frequently, but a weekend away would still be easy.

    Anyway, this thread was about rats, which I also think are way cool, so I won't drag you any further off-topic!
     
  12. conservationgal

    conservationgal WSU DVM Class of 2011 2+ Year Member

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    Apr 18, 2006
    Northwest
    I am not allergic to rats, but I am allergic to the typical bedding (wood shavings?) that rodents tend to have. I found out because my friends had them when I was little and I would always puff up and get a runny nose. Weird, I know :rolleyes:. Are there other options? Also I was wondering if rats smell and if they do, are there easy ways to minimize it other than just cleaning out the cages on a regular basis?
    Sorry for the questions - you guys just have me thinking and I am pretty clueless as to what is involved in keeping a pet rat.
     
  13. hoodle

    hoodle UC-Davis DVM/PhD 2+ Year Member

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    Dec 18, 2006
    Davis
    Look at the http://www.dapper.com.au/grotto.htm site. they have their rats trained to use litter boxes, and then they have cloth rags that cover the rest that they wash once a week or so. it sounds really easy and really nice for all involved!
     
  14. kate_g

    kate_g Senior Member 2+ Year Member

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    Apr 4, 2006
    Cedar shavings used to be really common, that's probably what they had. Cedar is generally frowned upon now because it can actually cause problems if ingested by the animal (don't remember if it's toxicity or just a particularly tough fiber that's hard on the gut). Aspen is now the wood of choice for shavings, so you might not be allergic to that. Also, there are all kinds of non-wood bedding materials available - corncob pellets, compressed newsprint pellets...

    Oh, and rats smell way less than mice do.
     
  15. sundoggie

    sundoggie UPenn Class of 2011 2+ Year Member

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    Jan 27, 2007
    I loved my pet rats. They are so smart and so much fun...and really affectionate! I am partial to tan hooded rats because my all time favorite was one of those. She would go EVERYwhere with me inside my sweatshirt when I was in college.

    Anyway, they don't smell strongly but they have an odor that I think is similar to a horsey/barn odor. Anyone else think that? Very different from mouse smell. If you want sweet smelling, go with a female..but the females are much more active and not as cuddly as the big stinky males :D
     
  16. Jejton

    Jejton 2+ Year Member

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    Oct 30, 2006
    Brooklyn, NY
    Snakes are pretty easy to take care of. I have a nice albino corn snake ( dont know why its called an albino because it has red and orange coloring but does have the red eyes ) and its pretty easy to take care of. Very simple cage, water dish, pvc tube, heat lamp and a thawed frozen mouse every couple of weeks. I admit though that they arent cuddly.

    How about sugargliders or chinchillas?
     
  17. Jejton

    Jejton 2+ Year Member

    451
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    Oct 30, 2006
    Brooklyn, NY


    I've wanted rats for a while but my wife draws the line there ( at least until we own a home and I can hide them in the basement or something ) but Im curious about you letting them explore your apt. How do you know they will come back instead of just running free?
     
  18. Angelo84

    Angelo84 Tufts Class of 2011 10+ Year Member

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    Jan 25, 2007
    As far as bedding I had really good results with carefresh (recycled wood pulp) but I had two females. I would let them have the run of my room when I was in it and they were generally very good. They would come out when called (because they got treats for it) so I felt comfortable letting them run loose. One of them decided that ripping up the carpet under my bed was a good idea though--I didn't agree. I ended up blocking off their access to that area which worked.

    Have fun!
     
  19. kate_g

    kate_g Senior Member 2+ Year Member

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    Apr 4, 2006
    Probably it's technically just amelanistic - missing the gene for the black pigment, but not the red one. :)
     

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