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Discussion Starter #1
Alright, so...Gus has passed, and Shawn has been without a cagemate for about a month while I search for a replacement. There are no breeders anywhere near me that I can find -- I'm in Columbus Georgia, and the closest are in Atlanta I believe. Which I'll be able to do, in December when I get a larger chunk of money available to me. It's a three hour drive, but hey, worth it. I'm going to get another pair, just so I'm not scrambling whenever Shawn passes like I am now.

I went to the pet store tonight, though, and they have a very sweet agouti hooded boy, about four weeks old, who they just got in today. He was one of four, the other three died of PROBABLY stress; the very sweet, very knowledgeable woman who was handling them seemed pretty upset about it. He was typically shock-subdued, but showed signs of actually being a sweet boy; while we were talking and she was holding him, he was bruxing and grooming himself. I took that to be a pretty good sign. She was worried about him, and said that she didn't want me to take him home tonight -- the stress of two moves in one day might not have been good, and I agreed. So she took him in the back to get some antibiotics for just-in-case. He had some porphyrin, but I'm really hoping that it was just stress.

She said that she would hold him for me for a week from Saturday so they could run the antibiotics on him and he can settle a little bit. Man, I didn't want to leave him, but I'm trying to be very logical about it. Shawn needs a cagemate. It's going to be four weeks before this guy (if, actually, he survives and is healthy because I just don't think I can handle a URI, Shawn and Gus have never had one as yet) is ready to move in, but he'd be big enough to be alright I think. The VERY earliest I will be able to get to Atlanta is the start of December. So we're looking at the end of December at the earliest that I will be able to get the pair I'm getting from the breeder in.

Is it worth it? Does Shawn need a cagemate enough to risk the sweet pet store boy? I worry about him, but he seems to be eating, drinking, and making a mess fairly normally. I'm going to get the breeder pair either way, but I just...I'm stuck. I don't know.
 

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There isn't anything necessarily wrong with pet store rats in general. Kinda like feeder bin babies people tend to frown cause its supporting a business that isn't really great, often supporting bad breeders, etc. But three of our girls came from pet stores when we got them (and the others likely did to but we got them off craigslist as adults.) one from a petsmart and two from a horrible little store that seems rats as feeders and pets from the same bin, mixed genders and all. They have turned out to be some of the sweetest rats, you can tell who had been at the stores longer though, they took a little longer to come out of their shell, but they are much more friendly then our rescue girls.

I'd be worried about his age... If he is just about 4weeks that is pretty young. Everything I've seen says its best not to have them sent to new homes till 5 weeks at least, 6 preferred. Of the two pet stores around here only the feeders look like they are smaller and even then they look like they are likely around 5 to 6 weeks old, the petsmart sells theirs older then that. If the breeder they got from is pushing them out to fast I'd worry about health issues, and genetic issues that may be more of the reason his brothers died. And "they died from stress", while I could see it happening, seems iffy. I would more likely assume they were taken to early, and were sick, and then the stress of the move just made things worse.

URIs are a pain but taken care of quickly aren't necessarily difficult to handle. I've dealt with so many with my guinea pigs that I have gotten used to giving them meds without a vet visit if I had some left over from the last time. We've had a few possible starts with our girls and so far honey has seemed to clear up any minor issues. There is always exceptions, and those that persist and morph into more serious issues but on a whole I would say URIs are so common its nothing to get really worried about. (so long as you watch for signs and don't wait if you think their might be any issue, waiting and not watching are the biggest problems I've seen with small pets and URIs)

Overall, I would take Shawn out of the equation. If he is doing good, isn't a tiny terrified baby, and you'll be getting him some cagemates soonish, I would think more if you want this little boy. It sounds to me like you want him but the possibility of illness is scaring you. If your willing to risk needing to take him to the vet, get him on antibiotics if he is ill, having a separate room/area far from Shawn you can keep him while you watch for signs of illness, getting him young rat food or supplementing his diet to give him extra protein to help him grow, I would get him. If not, then I'd pass on him.
 

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How old is Shawn?

If you're going to adopt the little guy, I would do it as fast as possible, assuming he perks up. I'm not the best reference but one of my rats is in critical condition and will likely pass within the week so I've been researching and asking around at vets for a while and I can say what they've told me... Adult male rats CAN bond together, but will often become aggressive. If this little guy is still a baby when you bring him home, that's your best bet for them to become actual cagemates. And regardless you should be prepared (financially and in terms of space) to keep the rats separate, if they absolutely can't get along.

I don't think leaving him alone for a few months will mean enough stress to permanently damage him. It's not ideal but the consensus I've seen among rat fancy people I know and vets is that keeping an adult rat that's lost a cagemate alone is not the worst thing you can do. You just need to be aware that they're social and give them the love they want to the best of your ability. As long as you take Shawn out every day for a few hours, give him a little extra TLC, he shouldn't become overly anxious or aggressive... if you're getting a new pair just make sure they're babies, you don't want to introduce rats that are a little too old because Shawn my react to other "adult" rats with aggression.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you guys for the quick replies! This has been on my mind for a while now and it has me a little bit worried. I appreciate it.

You're definitely right -- I WANT the babe, sure I do. He seemed sweet, he was very cute, and he was quite precious. But yeah. I'm really worried about the health bit. Shawn has always been so healthy; I got him from a breeder, and man his ease of care has been a blessing. You know? Shawn and Gus were my first breeder rats; all of the others before them were pet store finds, so I definitely love pet store babies too. I just worry.

He was definitely a little young to be away from his mother. I'm inclined to think that the stress of that could have brought out some underlying sickness, too, yeah. He MIGHT have been in his late fourth week, but he still had his baby coat in spots, so. He's pretty young. And I'm definitely more concerned about genetic issues in a pet store rat, since I don't know what their lineage was like.

You know, I think the problem I have with URIs is that I don't know what they're like. My girls got sniffles sometimes, but they cleared up with some chocolate and a switch to a different bedding. But you're right - honey's antibiotic properties ARE pretty good. I've got no problem with vets and will have savings put back for emergencies, yeah, so there is that. I've already got a quarantine cage set up for the new addition(s) and will be supplementing with higher protein foods and yogurt, so yeah, not worried on that front.

Shawn is two years old last month. His cagemate was always the aggressive one - Shawn has always been happy and hyper, ever since he was a kit literally bouncing off of the walls of his cage. I always have wondered what he'd be like with a less grumpy cagemate, because he's a very sweet boy, and he loved Gus. Still, yeah, you're right -- I'm just a little worried about him not reacting well.

I've also been going over all of the various introduction techniques as well, and am going to be taking it slowly even after the quarantine is finished on the new rat(s); and if Shawn doesn't want to adapt to a new cagemate, if there's too much blood and squabbling, I'm going to be keeping him by himself for sure.

Oh no, it's not the WORST thing to do...I had a girl who was aggressive to all of the potentials I ran past her (before I knew better than to quarantine, man I was lucky she never caught anything), so she lived for another year and a half after her cagemate died as my shoulder and semi free-range rat. That's not quite an option and Shawn isn't as hands-on and lovey as she was, but yeah. I do play with him, spoil him and dote on him, and he comes out to watch TV with us in the evenings now. So that's my pause on the pet store baby; he SEEMS okay right now for an old man.

Right now, he's gleefully eating the pea-sized bit of homemade dark chocolate fudge that he's been begging for for ten minutes with his big sad old man eyes. ;) Big spoiled baby. I just want to do what is 100% best by my little dude, and I'm waffling on what that is, heh. But you guys are helping the process, I think -- thank you!
 

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We got our first two from a PetCo and one died within a week. The other one, Tempy, was also very sick and came close himself but we were able to save him. After that we wanted to get him a cage mate so I contacted a breeder. She wasn't planning on having another litter for a couple months, and we really didn't want Tempy to be alone that long because he was already super skittish and anti-social, so we went to PetSmart and found Buddy. Best decision ever! Buddy is the sweetest. He is my heart rat. :) Not only that he instantly had a positive effect on Tempy. I was cautious about getting another pet store rat because of all the stuff I'd read about mistreatment and health issues, but I'm certainly glad I let my wife convince me to go to the store that day because I can't imagine how things would have turned out had we not found Buddy.

We also just got a couple of little guys from that breeder last week. Zeek and Nibbler. I don't know how they'll turn out ultimately, but I will say from a personality perspective Buddy was friendlier right from the start then either one of them. So breeder rats are not necessarily friendlier. Perhaps healthier, but not friendlier. Zeek is starting to warm up to me pretty good, but Nibbler is terrified of me just like Tempy was. :( Tonight I'm moving them all in together so hopefully Nibbler will come around after he sees how the other ones love and trust me.

So my vote.. get the little guy. Just make sure you follow quarantine procedure so he doesn't get your older guy sick. Your older guy will likely take to him just fine because he's so young. But make sure to do proper introductions just to be safe.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I'm sorry to hear that your bub died in the first week :( That is sad, and always unfortunate. I'm glad that Tempy's okay! And that Buddy was, too. I know how that goes -- the hit-or-miss of it is very stressful and trying! Especially on a 'deadline' with a sad lonely rat. And I hear you on finding your heart rat at a pet store! My best girl was, too.

Oh no, Gus was from a breeder and he was a big ole' snappy brat. Never very friendly, didn't want kisses or scratches or anybody to mess with him really. Grumpy little thing. Healthier, well, it seems that way to ME so far...but hey. That's one of the things they're going for, which is good. Nice healthy rats. Gosh, I hope that Nibbler gets settled and starts to warm up to you! That's not fun. But there are lots of fun games to play with the little dudes to help that..! :)

Unfortunately the little dude was just not healthy; I had decided against getting him, but I learned that he'd died the day after. The sweet associate who helped me was very sad; she was really trying to save him, bless her heart. But I will certainly take the luck for my new guy, who I might have just lucked out on. We will see. Thank you guys so much! You are awesome.
 

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I'm sorry to hear that your bub died in the first week :( That is sad, and always unfortunate. I'm glad that Tempy's okay! And that Buddy was, too. I know how that goes -- the hit-or-miss of it is very stressful and trying! Especially on a 'deadline' with a sad lonely rat. And I hear you on finding your heart rat at a pet store! My best girl was, too.

Oh no, Gus was from a breeder and he was a big ole' snappy brat. Never very friendly, didn't want kisses or scratches or anybody to mess with him really. Grumpy little thing. Healthier, well, it seems that way to ME so far...but hey. That's one of the things they're going for, which is good. Nice healthy rats. Gosh, I hope that Nibbler gets settled and starts to warm up to you! That's not fun. But there are lots of fun games to play with the little dudes to help that..! :)

Unfortunately the little dude was just not healthy; I had decided against getting him, but I learned that he'd died the day after. The sweet associate who helped me was very sad; she was really trying to save him, bless her heart. But I will certainly take the luck for my new guy, who I might have just lucked out on. We will see. Thank you guys so much! You are awesome.
I'll light the white candle for the little dude.

It's a sad truth that while there are sometimes decent or good employees at places that sell animals that come from pet mills, the industry itself is cruel and abusive, centered on profits and not on good care and husbandry, and only when consumers stop supporting it with their purchase dollars will it end. It worked for most pet stores with puppies and kittens--sadly small animals haven't gotten the same progress so far.

I'm not a saint, and have at times paid to bail an animal out of ****, but only when also working to change the system and get that practice stopped.

I think you dodged a bullet--if you got that attached to the little fella without ever having brought him home, think how it would've been if you'd nursed him to the end and tried yourself to save him.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thank you very much; I appreciate that. Oh yes - I am completely in agreement with you there. Outside of emergencies such as this, I'm all for breeders...I wish it were easier to find them! The good ones are few and far between in some areas of the country. Not so nice. I doubt that we will see much improvement in rodent mill practices, but there's always hope I suppose. I definitely dodged a bullet. He deserved better than he got, but such is life I suppose. He was a sweet little guy.
 
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