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Hey everyone,

I've recently (literally the last 48 hours) acquired myself some furry little critters and it's the best decision I've made in a long time!

For a while I've been trying to figure out what sort of pet I want and living 7 floors up severely limited my options. After a while I got it down to "something furry that can live in a cage"
Then there was the inevitable "oh god not hamsters again" Every child-hood pet I ever had was a hamster...

So after some conversations with friends, a whole lot of research and a bit of saving up, I am now the proud member of a pack of bucks!

My original intention was to get two of them, but after watching the four together in the pet store, I couldn't face splitting them up. A quick check on the cage sizing and they all came back with me.

I decided to name them based on their personality and so far two have been dubbed Jack and Tweak respectively. The two albinos are a little harder to name because I haven't seen much of them so far.

But that's me, a simple story but I'm extremely happy and if I could, I'd be spending every day skiving off work just to watch them go about their business.

A warning in advance, I am an extremely paranoid person and I will have a lot of potentially stupid questions over the coming weeks. But also, I hope that I can be an active part of this community in other ways too.

Thanks for having me and I look forward to getting to know a few of you in the future!
 

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So great that you kept them together and made the awesome decision to become a rat parent! All of your questions, I'm sure, are able to be answered here and don't ever feel that they are dumb! I've had rats for several years and I occasionally have questions that you would think I would know/remember by now.
 

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Thanks!

To be honest there are only a few questions that I seem to be drawing up multiple answers to and they're the ones I'm struggling with.

- 1. My flat can get a bit cold sometimes. What's the comfortable temperatures for rats and will they be OK if it drops slightly for a day or two?

- 2. They seem to be squeaking at each other quite a bit. Not in a stressed or scared way just sounds like they're having little chats sometimes. Someone told me they don't make a lot of noise usually so is this normal?

- 3. One of them seems to favor the top level and will spend hours on his own just sitting up there alone. This isn't some kind of advanced pack behavior is it? It's just him wanting some alone time right?

- 4. What is the general consensus for fresh foods? i.e. How often should they be having fresh fruit or veg?

- 5. I can honestly be a massive wuss sometimes. Will wearing gloves the first few times that I try and bond make a difference down the line? I only ask cos I was giving them a few bits of carrot yesterday and they took it fine from my hand but one did clamp down on a finger (I assume he just wigged out about the carrot or something because the others were getting there first or that he's still settling in and I left my hand in the cage just a little too long?)

- 6. Do they all sneeze a lot? I don't mean constant just fairly regularly at the moment they have little sneezes for a moment and then go back to normal.

- 7. And finally, I've seen differing opinions on how often the water bottle(s) should be cleaned out. What is the safest/best time frame between washes/refills?

That's it. Like I said, some of these things may seem stupid and I've definitely read about them in books and online, they're just things that seem to have no hard and fast answer or differing opinions. Or even it's just that I've found the answer and I'm being really paranoid about them.

Thanks for reading through and hopefully I'll hear something from you guys soon.
 

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It's never stupid to ask questions!! Actually it's better to ask now than later :D

- 1. They can withstand cold if you provide enough fleece and warm material for them to snuggle into. However if your apartment is freezing it might be hard on them.

- 2. They're still new, they might be squeaking because they're adjusting to their surroundings. Since they're male maybe they're establishing new hierarchies, but I never had males before so I'm just guessing here.

- 3. Probably just chillin' :)

- 4. Fresh foods are good, just make sure they have a base food mix or lab blocks with them. Veggies are always good and fruits should only be fed as an occasional treat since they contain a lot of natural sugar. You can find online lists of foods they aren't able to have. For males specifically they cannot have citrus or mangoes because it can cause cancer.

- 5. Rats are very precise with their teeth, but their eyesight isn't great. He might have thought your finger was food but stopped mid bite realizing it was your finger. I found this to be an interesting read: http://www.joinrats.com/EarnTrust/RatsUsingTeeth/

- 6. When rats first come home they'll be sneezing and maybe produce a little poryphin around their eyes and nose (looks like blood but is their tears mucus) for a week or so. Just monitor it. Any other symptoms and you might need to take them to a vet, but you can always ask here :)

- 7. I'd suggest every time you change the water to wash it out and maybe get a bottle brush for it. It's better to stay on top of cleaning than to get stuck scrubbing it for a good while down the line.


 

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- 1. I keep my guys in a outbuilding, which I heat to a point. Generally speaking rats are better in the cold than the warm (particularly bucks, high temperature can floor them), aiming for anything above 10 degrees C works well, and tends to be what a lot of rat owners use who are in a similar situation to me.

- 2. do they squeak when interacting, e.g. someone gets pounced on or groomed and they "pip" in protest? That's perfectly normal, squeaking when they are breathing is a sign something is going on

- 3. Some rats like there alone time, they also often get fave places in a cage. One of mine had a perch they used to sit on and stare at me from when they wanted to get out, I called it there watch point. High places are normal as rats like to have good visability of whats going on.

- 4. This depends on the rats and the diet they are being fed. I wouldn't go over 10% of there dry mix daily unless you really know what your doing. Its a case of learning to tell when they are in good condition and tweaking it to suit them. Mine currently get fresh veg about once or twice a week, much more often and they loose condition. They do get a fair bit of dried veg and herbs in there mix though.

- 5. It will make a difference, but if your going to be so nervous and tentitve you freak them out then wear gloves (rats can pick up on things) generally though as long as your fingers don't smell of food they wont do more than test bite. baby rats learn there world in part with there teeth, they shouldn't break the skin though and it tends to be tentative nibbling or grooming, at worst they may bite a little then bite a bit firmer to see what you will do, this is a form of testing and picking them up firmly and telling them no is worth while.

- 6. They can do when in a new environment with new smells and stresses, I would expect them to settle down in a week or two, if they start making grunty noises then they need to go to the vet and get put on antibiotics though, the same if they start to look hunched and miserable.

- 7. It varies by the water type in your are (e.g. soft vs hard) and what kind of things you put in it as well as how clean it is to start with. Generally a good rule of thumb is daily, but I do let some of my clean new water bottles go a few days before changing the water as I've got soft water round here and its generally good in the uk in terms of bacteria levels. The bottles I add a supplement to I change daily as that contains sugar and can get manky fast. Regardless always have at least 2 water bottles on the cage, and its nice to offer them a coup cup or hanging bowl of water too
 

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Brilliant, thanks a lot!

That's helped put my mind to rest and answered a few things that I was worried/unsure about.
As for the squeaking thing, it seems to be when they're interacting more than just random noises so I'm not too worried if that's normal.

Still haven't named two of them, they are the twitchiest and will hide a lot (unless there's food involved).

Definitely going to give it a go without the gloves in a few days once they've settled down properly. Just gotta grit my teeth and let them nibble I guess. :p

I've spent hours staying up way too late just watching the little guys. They're pretty interesting and will always stop and give me a sniff if I'm sat next to the cage.

My boss is very scared of rats due to the whole "vermin" perception so there's been some interesting conversations at work but I love them. Looking forward to the coming years :)
 

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That's great ! That's how I felt about my 6 girls we bought them all within a couple days of each other I count bare splitting them all up. So now I have a rat pack. I got all of the girls in May/June and just about 2 months ago I got two males. And let me tell you sometimes it's a handful with all of them craving your attention but I couldn't be happier. :3
 

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The best thing about males is that they are generally calmer and a bit more lazy. Great lap pets!

I think your questions have been mostly answered. I do want to add that you should avoid giving your boys citrus anything! It's causes cancer in males. I don't feed my girls fresh food too often since they are on a high quality lab block. They generally get it just for a good treat. Certain foods can also make their waste much smellier than normal!
 
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