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Discussion Starter #1
Hi! I just now, like, 5 minutes ago, discovered that my female, Holly, is pregnant, and due any day now. I wasn't quite prepared for this, but I most likely can get what I need for them.

What things do I need for newborn rats?

How old do they have to be till I can handle them, and how do I handle them?

What else do I need to know?

Thanks so much!
 

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For housing you'll need either a tank (aquarium) or a plastic bin that you've made enough holes in so that it's not too dismal (If I do a bin I'll usually leave the lid off during the day while I'm home, once pups are born mom won't be too tempted to escape).

You'll need paper or fleece bedding. I have always used aspen with lots of paper towel strips for nesting but I know a lot of people advise against aspen, never had a problem personally. You'll want to leave her and the bedding alone once she starts building a nest and at least a week after the pups are born. After a week it's safe to change bedding out but keep a small amount of soiled bedding to put back in with the pups.

Give your girl high protein and high fat food starting now (like eggs, mealworms, some dog food is ok) and continuing until pups are weaned. Pups will need more protein and fat too when they start eating solids. Oxbow makes a decent young rat food but I've always supplemented with some of the things I fed mom during pregnancy and nursing.

If you're having issues with her biting already then you'll want to be careful with handling her after she's given birth. I handle pups from day one, but if you're not particularly bonded to her I'd wait a few days to really start handling. Lure her out with a treat and put her somewhere else while you handle them, otherwise she will try to snatch them back and potentially hurt them or you. I usually do a check for milk bands a few hours after I know she's done giving birth. You can do this by picking up a pup and looking at its belly, there should be a small white area that you can see through the skin (this isn't exactly necessary and you can skip it if you're not comfortable). Handle the pups as often as you can once they're a week old; check them for injuries or anything concerning. Hold them close to the floor or a table just in case one squirms out of your hand.

Honestly, rats are excellent mothers and you really shouldn't have to worry too much. Keep things calm and quiet around her for a while and everything should come naturally to her.
 

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I almost forgot one crucial bit of info. Your girl is high white meaning she carries the risk of having babies with megacolon. It might not happen, but you should know of the risks and understand the disease. There is a great megacolon sticky that you should read under the accidental litters category I believe. I've had the misfortune to see it a few times in accidental litters, so feel free to pick my brain about it. Due to this, I would not recommend rehoming any pups until at least 8 weeks old. By this point they'll be out of the critical risk period for developing the disease.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Okay, great! Thanks for the info! For the eggs- how do I prepare them? Boiled, poached, fried, or what? I have her quarentined to a bin with some aspen bedding, and fleece in the bottom half of a box with a large opening for her to go in and out of. I made this box because I've heard that sometimes the babies somehow move around, and they can't get to the mother's milk, and unfortunately die.

Thanks again, and i'll take a look at the megacolon thing!
 

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Boiled is probably best for the eggs. Babies can sometimes stay attached to nipples when mom goes to eat/drink/etc. If she notices this, she'll take them back to the nest. I usually check morning and evening for misplaced babies and put them back if they're out of the nest. If she has a particularly large litter, she may intentionally put some out of the nest and let them die. It's unfortunate, but large litters can be stressful. I've only ever witnessed one girl do this with a litter of 17. I kept putting them back and they were back out in the morning. I finally ended up splitting the litter with another girl who had just finished nursing her pups. I know you don't have that option, so just be aware. If anything goes wrong and you have the time, you can always get some soy baby formula and help her feed them. Anywho...I'll save all the what ifs for when they happen instead of giving you too much info lol I'm usually keeping an eye on the site throughout the day, so feel free to make a post or send a message if you need help.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Hehe, just wanted to be sure. My mom and I went to the store this morning and I picked up some soy baby formula and some droppers with really small nozzle thingies.
 

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Good deal. It may not be necessary for the pups if mom is producing enough milk, but you can always give it to mom to boost her diet and the pups once they're old enough to eat. It's always a good thing to have around regardless; also makes an excellent food for sick rats and I haven't met a rat yet that doesn't go crazy for it. It's the only thing my Isis would eat after she got sick, pretty sure it saved her life.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Is there anything homemade that I can use as a nipple on the dropper I am using? It has a very narrow tip, so I might not need it?
 

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I'm not sure about that one. I used a very thin plastic pipette that I snagged from the lab. I think as long as your syringe doesn't flood their mouth it should be ok. I know that some people have used very small paint brushes dipped in the milk, but that seems super tedious lol The things we do for our little fuzz butts :p
 

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Discussion Starter #15
hehe, I think on the link you posted it said that as long as the nozzle isvery small it's good. hand-raising babies sure is a handful :D
 

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And you might not even need to hand feed, vicky had 15 and she kept them all so well fed they refused supplemental formula when I offered it
 

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The babies can be handled from birth, starting a few minutes at a time. In fact, the sooner you handle them, the better, so that way they will be well-socialized and not afraid of people when they go to their new homes. I read somewhere that a good tip for handling very young babies and keeping them from squirming away is to place them in a fleece hat. And it's a good idea to lure mom away first, as others have said.

I saw on another post that she had her babies. New Year's Eve babies! :D
 

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Discussion Starter #19
okie-doke! I will socialize with them! My parents were afraid that they would either get abandoned by momma ratty because of my scent, or that we shouldn't be holding them so young.

And yep! Holly gave birth to 9 healthy little pups at about 3 AM this morning!
 
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