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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, my name is Daphne. I saw a rat outside a shopping center, an unusual sight for my area. I watched him for a little and thought he looked tame so I attempted to interact. I caught him with the help of some peanut butter and quickly bought a cage from a thrift store in that same shopping center (lucky me!) because he was happy to be held but didn't want to go in my box.

He appears content in the cage. I have a nice rat-sized cardboard box in that cage for him to hide in and a towel in the bottom of the cage. I gave him some water in a shallow lid and he was happily drinking it. He has rested. He calmed down quite a lot once he got in the cage. This is clearly a lost or abandoned pet.

I kept pet rats about 10 years ago. I do not have any supplies on hand but I do have some general knowledge about caring for rats, but I do not have knowledge about what I need to do for this special situation of finding a lost rat.

What do I need to be concerned about? What should I do to hopefully find the owners?

Unfortunately, he has sneezed a couple times. Otherwise he appears rather healthy. No drainage from eyes/nose, fur is a little gross, no obvious injuries, good weight, friendly disposition, calm. I found him in the front of the shopping center where there were not obvious signs of poison lying around, but in the back of the shopping center there were bait stations. While he isn't currently showing signs of being poisoned, I am very very frightened he may have ingested some rat poison while being lost outside.

As for other pets, I have two cats. This rat will be kept in a cage in a room away from the cats. I will be sure to thoroughly wash my hands after handling. At the moment, I intend to go to a pet store in ~2 hours to get some basic supplies (block food, seed/fruit food mix, carefresh litter, and a water bottle). I have to wait to go to a pet store because none are within walking distance and my husband is currently at work with the only car.

In the meantime, I thought I would post here because I am sure there are many lovely and knowledgeable rat enthusiasts who can offer me sound advice. I will also be reading basic rat care information online to refine my shopping list.

Thank you for reading. I really appreciate any advice you can offer. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I didn't see a way to edit my opening post, so I am replying here with the current updates.

I know the cage we have him in right now isn't large enough for him. It serves the purpose at the moment, but I intend to replace it with a larger cage if we are unable to find his owners within 7 days. If you have tips on how to find/build an affordable cage, do tell. :cool:

He has a normal plastic small animal water bottle (with bottled water because I recall the flouride from tap water may be harmful to rats), a small ceramic crock for his food, carefresh litter, a cardboard box to nap in, and a hammock. His food is a combination of Reggie Rat Food (a mixture) and Kaytee rat blocks. I wanted to give him some variety since I don't know what he's used to (of course he's chowing down on the delicious morsels from the mixture instead of the more balanced blocks right now, but we'll see how his dish looks in the morning).

He resisted leaving the cage when I was setting it up for him. He's a little nervous in the hand but really chill in the cage. He's in a quiet place so he should be able to relax and recuperate from his ordeal.

I intend to post a found notice on Craigslist tomorrow saying I found a pet rat and the approximate location he was found. I am purposefully thinking about leaving out a picture or a description because I'd like the responder to describe the rat to me to ensure they are the true owner and not someone who might want to feed the rat to another animal. Hopefully that's the right way to go about it. I'll also look into other avenues to advertise the lost animal because no other places come to mind immediately.

I am exhausted and need to go to bed now. Take care, everyone. I look forward to what people have to say.
 

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If you have any local pet shelters I would consider leaving a notice or advertisement with them to post on their walls. The owner may go to the animal shelter hoping someone brought their friend in.
 

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That's a really clever way to find out of it is the real owner, for the craigslist ad. As gin said you can contact vets, pet stores, and shelters. You can also put up posters.
 

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It's a really good way to identify the true owner. I see it used on lost cat/dog ads all the time. Identifying marks, tattoos (in cat/dog cases), the animal's name or certain behaviours. I've also seen people ask those contacting them to send them a picture of the animal in question. If you're a pet owner, you're gonna have pictures of your furry friend, right?
 

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Thank you for saving him! I hope he's still ok and was just sneezing from being in a new environment. I have nothing of use to add, but keep us updated!
 

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I agree, thank You! A lot of people don't take the time to help the helpless. Did you ever find the owner? Do you still have him?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Hello everyone! Thank you all for your kind words. I am sorry that I have not replied more quickly. I have social anxiety over posting in forums for some unknown reason. ???

Thank you for the advice on finding his owners, gin and JAnimal. That is a good tip about the new environment sneezing, KayZee, it may very well be the case. Thank you for asking about him, Ratloved. :)

The rat is still in my possession. No one has contacted me trying to claim the rat. I'm currently calling him Sweetpea.

When I found him, his fur was dirty. He did not approve of my attempt to bathe him in 0.5 inches of warm water, but he allowed me to wipe him down with a damp cloth and a damp sponge. I only used warm water, no soap. With my help and his own grooming, his fur looks splendid now. He arrived with a small patch of missing fur on his back, but it appears to be growing in (or at least not getting any worse). He had a few scratches on his toes that have healed up nicely. He arrived with a very small (about 1/8th inch) scratch above one of his thighs, which has gotten a little bigger and then smaller, but has not healed completely--no puss or redness surrounding the injury, but I'm certainly not happy it hasn't healed completely. I think his scratching is preventing it from healing completely, especially since his claws are so sharp. Upon examination I found no signs of fleas, mites, or other parasites, but I realize that does not rule these things out.

He is sneezing less than when he first got here. We are still waiting on a vet appointment (we go to a low-cost non-emergency vet clinic for low-income families which tends to have a 2-week waiting period for appointments). We are using Carefresh bedding right now, my bag doesn't seem dusty, but I've read it can cause sneezing so I intend to use fleece when my small bag runs out to see if that helps with the sneezing.

He likes all the food I have presented to him. He eats every last bit of the Reggie Rat Food mix and he loves the Kaytee lab blocks. Unfortunately since then I have read that both these foods are poor choices, and I feel bad about that. I have given him a small amount of fresh foods every day (cooked brown rice, plain macaroni noodle, carrots, peas, sugar snap peas in the pod, watercress, yogurt drops, even a little piece of hard-boiled egg) and he was delighted by everything. According to the feeding guidelines on his bags of food, he's eating about twice as much as recommended. My impression is that he's a medium-sized male so I'm a bit worried he's going to gain weight, but only time will tell. He's drinking water very well. His urine and poop appear normal.

He has put his teeth on us, but I don't think it's aggression. It wasn't at all painful and no skin was broken and he stops if we squeak at him. I think he might be attempting to groom us but everyone is a little nervous. We have started saying words like "food", "treat", and "pet" before reaching our hands out to him so he can learn what our intentions are.

He is much more active now. He will come out of his cage willingly, but he doesn't stay out for long if his cage is in sight. He gets nervous when picked up, but he calms down fairly quickly and seems to slightly enjoy being in my lap, on my shoulder, or running around in my sweater (but again, if he can see his cage, he will abandon me shortly and go right back in). He is skittish about distant movement, but he's been getting more used to it the past two days. Since he's less fearful of movement, I've been taking his cage from room to room with me so he hopefully adjusts more quickly.

Overall, he's doing pretty good. I think his original owners must have taken good care of him since he's warming up to me so quickly. Hopefully he is reunited with his family--if they lost him rather than abandoned him, they must be worried sick.

My week time limit for getting a larger cage is fast approaching. My husband and I have been discussing what we want to do. Of course I'm very tempted to keep him and get him some buddies if we can't find his owners. He's such a lovely guy. I've been reading about cage enrichment, socialization, health, training, making my own cage liners instead of using litter, looking at so many different cages, and so on. I'm really tempted to keep him and get him some buddies if we can't find the owners, but if that doesn't seem what's best, we will do everything we can to find him a nice home or a nice rescue group.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Hello again! I wanted to update on Sweetpea's status.

We have been to the vet. He is currently on amoxicillin for his sneezing and Revolution for his itching. The vet says he believes he saw a louse but was unable to grab one for us to see; regardless, he was itching, so Revolution should take care of any external parasites that may have been itching him. I have been reading Rat Health Care by Debbie Ducommun. Based on his sneezing (and once I believe I heard wheezing), I am very concerned about Mycoplasma, a secondary respiratory infection, or possibly allergies. After observing him in different air spaces and situations, I'm leaning toward allergies at this stage.

I am slowly switching his main diet to Oxbow Essentials Regal Rat Adult Rat Food. He seems to love it! As he eats more of Oxbow and less of the Kaytee, the quality of his poop has improved.

I have succeeded in clipping ONE toenail! He lets me hold his foot, but he gets squirmy before I find where I want to clip. I'm sure I'll be clipping all his nails soon enough with more experience. This is very good because his back claws are so long and sharp he's really scratching me up. :p

I want to attempt clicker training with him. He's already beginning to associate the clicking sound with a reward.

He and I are both much more comfortable with each other. He loves wiggling around in my sweater. He is not aggressive whatsoever. When he puts his teeth on people, he is grooming/inspecting. He is not rough. He gives lots of sweet licks and kisses and only gentle nibbles. He doesn't bite fingers through the bars of his cage. He's careful when taking treats. He's such a sweet and gentle boy.

No one has contacted me claiming to be the owner. I am not sure his original family is looking for him.

He is currently in a Petco Rat Manor. I HATE this cage. I'm glad he has more space--he's clearly happy about that--but I can't imagine using this cage long-term. I'm still looking around at sales, thrift stores, and Craigslist to get a good deal on a large cage that seems manageable. No dice so far, but the Rat Manor will do for now.

I tried fleece but the fleece I had was resisting the urine rather than wicking it away or absorbing it, so I've got him on towels. I have a litter box in a corner of his cage with paper pellets that he's pooping in sometimes.

Overall, he's doing pretty well. Everything is looking up!

I have been looking at rescuing a second rat once Sweetpea has a clean bill of health.
 

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Yay! You have done a really great thing! I am glad his health is better, he is happy, and you each have a new friend. It is the small things that make us better people and our world a better place. Thanks for the update!!
 
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