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Thread: At what age can baby rats leave their mother?

  1. #1

    Default At what age can baby rats leave their mother?

    I found a young girl on Craigs List that is selling baby rats near where I live.The babies were born on Dec 10th. The mom had 12 or thirteen. I went to see them and their eyes were just opening when I visited last week. I picked out two females and held them for a while. The young girl has several adult rats and has had rat pets for a year or so. The mother Rat is very sweet and gave me kisses and licked my ear!Yesterday she called and asked If I could come get the Rats! She said the Mom is done nursing them , they have teeth and are eating solid food. The babies are biting the Mom's nipples and causing bleeding.I asked to speak with the girl's Mother. When the Mom got on the phone I explained that the baby rats needed to stay in their rat family until 5 weeks of age. Her daughter needed to be responsible and not sell them early. They needed to adopt rat skills that a person can't teach them. I told the girl if she insisted on me bringing them home at less than 4 weeks of age that I would just come for my deposit and call it a day!.What do you think? I know the babies have been socialized and around people since they were born. They are also around dogs and cats. They are very cute and seemed healthy. I just worry that they should still be nursing, I'm not an expert, just an expert animal lover!I worry that she may not have the funds to feed them as nutritiously as I would. Should I take them early just to get them into a better home with better food? Is leaving the other babies really that bad for them at this stage of the game?Do you have any opinion here or suggestions

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  3. #2
    Squishy Laprat
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Austin Texas


    Today they would be a little over 3 weeks old, they should still be with mom as they are Just now starting to eat solid foods.

    But, this is actually the normal age mom will start to wean them herself without human intervention. Rats naturally wean between 3 and 4 weeks on their own.

    you could leave them there a few more days, so that they get a few extra days of nursing, but you could take them now if you truly wanted to. If you do take them now make sure to feed them high protein, so maybe sardines twice a week. If they are eating solid foods fine there is no need to supply milk replacer and stuff like that.

    Now the main thing that I think can dictate this is if you already have rats, they will teach them quickly how to be rats, and leaving mom this early won't be an issue. if these are your first rats (in which case, Welcome) there could be an issue with them learning how to be rats, But since they are going in a pair, it shouldn't be too bad.

    Really, taking them now isn't going to harm them in the long run. Of coarse the girl should learn more responsibility and you should have a really long talk with her mom (and dad if possible) that rats should not be sold in till 4 to 6 weeks old. Meaning, they have to wait another week.

  4. #3


    Rats should not be taken away from their mother before 4 weeks, its too early. their long term health will benefit from the mothers milk. It should be 5 weeks old at least, no good breeders I've ever known would separate at 4 weeks either.
    If she won't budge then it isn't a huge deal, but I think its better that they stay at least another week. Or if you're worried she isn't caring for them well you could take them now if you want, just isn't ideal.

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  6. #4


    Well here's the dilemma, do you take the baby rats to help them AND with your money and commerce basically tell her she's doing the right thing? Or tell her to keep your babies until 5 weeks and then you will take them home, OR just say I do not support your practices. Tough one, but I would try to see if you can convince her to keep them with mom until 5 weeks of age, if she refuses, then she doesn't deserve your money.

    With my rescues, they all stay with mom until 5 weeks of age,. then I move mom and the girls out into another cage. The boys stay a few more days toa week more and then can be adopted out, just to make sure there's not too many changes all at once. The girls stay with mom for the rest of their life if need be.

  7. #5
    Squishy Laprat Isamurat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Preston, UK


    I split my recent litter off mum at 4.5 weeks because they were thriving and starting to get a little fat, plus they were ready and so was mum. However at that age I wouldn't home them. They stayed in there separate boy and girl groups for another 2.4 week's to learn social skills, with regular visits to mum. I also arranged for them to love in with a much bigger group of kittens at 6 week's old, as there were not many of them, this kind of acts like kindergarten and teaches them so much. This formative period really matters to them, helps them become rounded furry people.

    In terms of weaning through mine were pretty much done weaning at 4 week's, though they would still feed occasionally,. Iat this stage it's up to thwart mum, if mums ready for them to stop then she will let them know, mum rats are excellent kung fu artists and more than a match cor a hoard of hungry babies, so I wouldn't accept that excuse.

    It's u
    To you if you take them now or not, I would push for them to at least get to 5 weeks old, though I still would never home here earlier than 6 weeks and normally home 7 to 8 weeks old. They will be better off with there family for longer, but if she's not going to give them attention, then you may be a better option. Honestly though I couldn't support a breeder like that.
    Jemma and the gang; Moo and Shine
    Isamu Rats

  8. #6


    Thank you all so much for your input. We ended up taking them today, as we were having a hard time even reaching the girl. They both were handled a lot & so far want to be held more than be in their cage. Mine wants to be under my shirt & even washed her face & fell asleep in there! So hopefully they will be fine. They were born Dec. 10 and are just 4 weeks.

  9. #7
    Squishy Laprat mistymornings18's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    mountains of wv
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    I ended up with three two and a half week old babies. They are doing wonderfully and are thriving even without a rat momma. They have two big adult females right near their cage so they can see what being a rat is all about :-)
    We've got a special bond like no other because i was rat mom to them for awhile.

    They will be fine with you. Just ensure they have extra protein and more TLC because they're young. Congratulations and PLEASE post some pics!!

    Rat momma to Wicca and Winter "Just because we can doesn't mean we should"

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