Two Pregnant By Wild Male
Hello, this is my first time having female rats and their names are Queen and Alice. I got them from a friend that had babies about two months ago when they were five weeks old. Both of my girls are clearly pregnant as I saw a wild (I'm guessing male) rat in my rat room while the girls were out. It has been about 20 days since then and I can't get my girls to separate. Both are HUGE and even though I gave two nesting boxes they both nested in only one. They are both laying together and wont let me pick up one without the other. I tried separating them but they both stressed out and Alice chewed through the plastic of her cage to try to get to her sister. When together they do perfectly fine and I noticed they are not leaving the box but to eat, drink, and potty. I haven't had babies before and I'm terrified. I've been up all night since their bellies seem to have gotten larger, more rounded, and are sitting lower then they were yesterday.
What should I look for as far as labor signs and how could I separate them without them stressing out?
First of all try not to hover. It can stress them out and they can sense your worry. Most of us had the babies born overnight or while we were away from the house. In the majority of cases rats are great and you don't need to worry. (I know, easier said than done.) My mocha went into labor as I was on the way out the door to work and I had no choice but to leave her. I rushed home at lunchtime to see she had 16 beautiful babies. She didn't need my help and was probably happier without me hovering over her.
Signs of labor are often subtle in rats. Rippling abdomen and arching back are two of them. My girl also had bristled out fur while she was in labor. For most people, they know they have babies when they hear them squeaking.
As for separating the two girls, it would be ideal but not at the detriment of the rats. The biggest issue with housing nursing mothers together is that they love babies so much they have a tendency to try and steal babies from other mothers' nests. This can lead to a tug-of-war that can do damage to the little ones' tender skin. I imagine if they're nesting together than the chance of this is much lower, and them working together would allow them to give each other breaks. Since your first attempt to separate them didn't work, I'd leave them be and if they try to steal babies from each other then separate them but keep a close watch on them. If they're ignoring the babies to try and get to each other then you might just have to let them be together.
The girls have been extremely clingy today when they usually aren't. Both are waning to cuddle in my lap on their backs. It seems like their girl bits are more open. I gave them some shop towels (paper towels that are more like cloth that don't stick) and they are now shredding them like crazy in their nesting box. I think we will have the babies sometime tomorrow (I hope). I also covered the Cage with thick blankets and I'm keeping the room at 78 degrees so it stays warm. Is there anything else I need to do? I'm only checking on them every few hours and when i give them food, water, more nesting materials.
Just keep an eye on them and make sure you know an emergency vet on the 1% chance something does go wrong while your vet is closed. If you'd like you can give them some egg. A little extra protein is good for their milk. As long as they're staying hydrated they should be fine.
I want pics when they get here (please).
Are you anywhere near VT?
I wouldn't cover the cage with thick blankets as it impair air flow and you could have an ammonia build in the air they breath. Have you moved her to a nursing cage where no baby could get out of it or being throw out of it by their mom or the other rat?
I came home to both girls licking their bitsand generally uncomfortable. They are in their regular cage with a 6in base and 1/3in bar spacing. Only the sides and top are covered, the back and front are open with plenty of air flow. Both girls refuse to separate and all I did was stress them out two days ago when I tried to. After talking to a local breeder he said to leave them in the same nest. They are both still living cuddles and back rubs though I haven't let them out today since they are due tomorrow. I haven't really seen the babies move in Queen's tummy since I got home but she isn't stressed and Alice is fixing the nest with Queen so I'll check back on them in a hour or so. They have their own room so I'm keeping things dim and quiet.
If they are on a table, put the cage in a way that if a mom throw a baby out of the cage it doesn't fall to the ground. If you find the baby on time, put it back into the cage. Sometimes the mom will change her mind and nurse it again. It can happen when the litter is too big, mom is undernourished, or baby has some genetic defect (in that case the baby will most likely die). It could be that the mom is not producing enough milk too, or is too stressed out.
I never saw babies moving in Mocha despite her having 18 inside so I wouldn't count on that as a sign. Good luck. Definitely want to see pictures after they're born. Don't forget to lure the moms away and put them somewhere else before touching the babies or they may bite to try and protect them.
I might add one footnote... If the babies are half or part wild, you will need to socialize them very young... I mean hands on by the time they get their eyes open.... Wild rats will bond with humans as pups and they can be very very sweet, but they have a serious vicious streak and they will hurt you in a very bad way if they aren't socialized as pups. You can't safely socialize an older rat, they are just too dangerous to handle.
Wild rats and part wild rats also tend to bond to a single human or single human family... They don't often like all humans, nor do they like all rats... They are big on their family and their pack and will defend their families and packs from strangers, both rat and human....
It's critical that you start working with your pups ASAP and get them to their forever homes as soon as possible....
Wild and part wild rats are more like pet wolves than pet dogs. They can be super friendly and absolutely amazing animals or they can become dangerous nightmares. No matter how you turn it, they aren't likely to be domestic or docile... and most will bite hard and repetitively if sufficiently provoked or frightened, but with proper care and handling they can become outstanding little furry friends, even if they are always insurance liabilities to some degree.
If you grabbed our part wild rat, you were headed to the emergency room, on the other hand she was the first one who came when called and would jump up on hand on command every time. Good socialization made her a very special pet. She only bit me once, when I blocked her from killing a mouse... bit it was deep and she tore flesh... And she shredded my neighbor's hand when he tried to grab her.... And she grabbed our other rat by the trachea when our other rat tried to push her around... She was never ever aggressive, but when she lost her composure she got vicious and dangerous in half an eye blink.
Socialize your pups right from the start, get them to their forever homes young, train them well and never pi** them off. That's the recipe for success.
And by the way, wild and part wild rats can jump and climb like squirrels... and do things domestic rats never dreamed of like squish under doors... They can also be a bit scary when they play fight with you, because they tend to jump at your face and mock chew bite rather than just mock bite once. They are just playing, and most likely won't hurt you, but don't let it get too out of hand once they get older.