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Discussion Starter #1
So I rescued a hairless rat from a breeder that had a bunch of them in a tiny bin together. I took pity on this one in particular because it was covered in scratches and bites from being bullied and had lost an eye. Supposedly these rats were all male and this one was so skittish that checking wasn't really an option. Progress with socialization has been slow and since the rattie clearly stressed over being held, I've just been working on trust training with yogurt/wet dog food while I touch and scritch without trying to pick up.

I noticed on Friday that the rattie was looking a little rounder and thought it was just gaining weight from a proper diet. By Sunday I realized that instead of a male, I had a pregnant female and by Monday she had given birth. I've really been fretting over this because I've read that hairless females can have issues with milk production and after the abuse that she suffered trapped with all those males, I wasn't sure how she'd treat her babies. Out of nine babies, there were four dead when I coaxed her out of the nest to check later in the evening. Some of them had what looked like milk bands in their stomachs but I'm not sure if that's from nursing or something they have when they're born(never dealt with baby rats before). I removed the deceased pups and put the other five back.

I've been giving Mamma seeds, nuts, fruits, veggies, and more wet dog food for protein to help produce milk but when I checked on the litter yesterday, I could only find two pups. I'm guessing she ate the other three? But these two seemed to have milk bands and were getting bigger, so I put them back and gave her more to eat.

So here's where it gets weird! Today I had to clean the nest out because it was starting to smell really bad and I could see parts that were just soaked in urine. I pulled out pups one and two, who look to be growing nicely when I compare them to the growth progress pictures I've seen. But in the back of the nest, I find a third tiny pup who looks like he's only a day old. He's nearly a third of the other two's size but he does have a milk band in his belly(not really sure the gender, just calling it a he). So... Is it possible that she had another pup days after delivering the first batch? One or two of the dead ones that I found originally had looked like they were a little underdeveloped but I would assume that once the water broke they would all have to come out at once. But I checked the cage thoroughly when I did the second count and only came up with two! Also it doesn't seem like one pup would survive so long if it had been neglected while the other two were getting nursed, which is the only other explanation I could think of for why this one is so tiny(and that doesn't really explain why it looks so much younger).

Any thoughts on this matter or advice on how to handle Mamma and her babies from here on out? I do know that the males will need to be separated once they're weaned. I've read that you should downgrade them to a smaller cage(I built her a nice big three level cage which was a huge upgrade from the bin she was stuck in) but 1. the cage she's in now is heated(there's flexwatt heat tape wrapped around the base to keep her warm since the house is chilly) and 2. the hammock she's built her nest in has been her safe space since I got her and I'm not sure how she'll feel about it being taken away. It only hangs about an inch or two off the ground empty and rests on the ground when she's in it, so even if the pups were to wiggle out I don't think they'd be in any danger of injury. Should I take the risk of stressing her own to move her or just keep a watchful eye on things as is? Thanks in advance for all your input! I should have taken a picture of the babies when I removed them for cleaning but Mamma was stressing so I got them back in as quick as possible, so I'll take a picture tomorrow or the day after when I check on them again.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Forty views and no comments! This is a strange situation though. I spent all night browsing articles and couldn't find any references to suggest that a rat could give birth on different days but this little one still looks a good two or three days younger than the others! I took a quick picture this morning to show and it's not the best quality but I was trying to get it snapped before Mamma finished dragging her treats off to stash away.

 

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Perhaps what you are seeing is a runt tht she had buried or tried to reject?
 

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I recommend you invest in a tiny paintbrush and some infant soy formula to feed the little one. He may not be getting enough to eat. Babies need to eat every 1 1/2 to 2 hours. You need to keep him warm and stimulate him before and after feedings to get him to potty. because, just like most babies, he can't go without help. Heat up a sock of rice, no more than 30 seconds, then wrap it a few times in a towel. The rice sock doesn't heat evenly so be sure to wrap it in the towel. I don't recommend heating pads as he can get too warm and wont be able to move off it. The sock is better, you can put it beside him and he can move away if he gets too warm. If you have any questions about anything feel free to message me and I'll give my cell to you as sometimes I have long stretches of where I'm not online.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
It's possible that it's a runt that got pushed aside but it just seems unlikely. When I only found two after the original count, I checked the cage pretty thoroughly to see if anyone had been relocated or if I needed to remove any dead pups but couldn't find anything. I guess overlooking a pup that had been cast aside is more likely than her giving birth days apart. The pup just seems so frisky for one that's been neglected, nice and vocal and with a clear milk band. If Mamma did try to remove her originally, she seems to have changed her mind and brought the pup back into the nest with the other two.

And thank you for the advice Fay. Unfortunately I work a 17 hour shift between Friday and Saturday so I can't do anything right now. Everyone seemed alright when I checked on them this morning. If everyone is doing alright when I get back tomorrow, should I still try to nurse the pup with soy formula or try to let things work out on their own? I'm uneasy about hand feeding a pup so young because I know it puts them at risk of asphyxiating on the formula. If I do start feeding the pup, should I remove him from the nest completely or just take him out to feed him and put him back after so he can stay warm with the others?
 

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I've raised two baby rats from 10 days old, and so far my method seems to have worked. Like Hey-Fay mentioned, infant soy formula is what you want to feed them. It has a long shelf life too. Everything Hey-Fay mentioned above is pretty much what I did, except I did not have a paintbrush around me. Instead I used a pipet with a small casing of an electrical wire inserted at the end. I made sure to wash everything really well. I really liked the small electrical straw-like casing because it allowed the formula to come out in small drops, it was small enough for the baby's mouth, and it was made out of soft plastic so it did not hurt the baby's teeth. Here is what it looked like:



Both my babies have grown to healthy adults. Toast is now over a year and a half old, and Crostini is four months old now. =P
If you have any questions let me know.
 

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I would feed as a supplement, but let mama feed too.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Well if they were all born on Monday, this makes day six I guess? All three still seem do be doing alright but Tiny is still tiny and remains further behind in development. I can still see his eyes really clearly through the skin while the other two have skin that has clearly gotten a lot thicker but he's just as wiggly and active as them, if not more. No fur yet that I can really see on anyone but the lighting isn't the best. Tiny still has a bit of a milk band I think but the other two are just pleasantly plump. I have tiny paint brushes and I'll pick up the soy formula later today. I'll start supplementing for all three I think just to play it safe. Just because Mamma has managed to nurse them so far doesn't mean she won't struggle once they get bigger and need more.

Mamma is also still quite plump and her rear still seems quite puffy but no discharge I can see. Could the extra weight just be gain from all the goodies I've been spoiling her with? I really need to start remembering to keep my phone on me when I check in to say hello to them.

Also, at some point I need to move the lot of them into another container so I can give the cage a thorough cleaning because cleaning out the nest just isn't cutting it. How long should I wait to do that?
 

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You can clean the cage now, just keep a small amount of soiled bedding to put back in with the pups.

Also, I have had litters with runts who stayed about half the size of their siblings until about 8 weeks and then they started evening out in size. My last litter was a mix of standard, rex and hairless and all of the hairless pups were extremely runty. I did lose one of of them, but the rest made it just fine :) I did supplement with some soy formula, but I mostly just let mama rat do her thing.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I'm having a hard time really seeing what's going on with their whiskers just yet, so I'm not sure what to expect as far as fur but I'd love if some of the babies turn out hairless or rex!

I checked on anyone when I got home from work this morning and all three seem to be doing well. Tiny has spunk and is definitely the most energetic of the group. He(or she, really need to figure out how to tell the difference) was crawling all over my palm when I was holding them. I even remembered to have my phone on hand and took a couple pictures while I had them out!



Here are a couple pictures of Mamma too! Yes, I know that the wire flooring is an issue. The wool rug I've been covering it with is in the washer and she dragged off the fleece that I put down for the interim. Mats are in the mail! The first picture is to show how big her belly still is while she was grabbing after the treats I had for her. She doesn't like being touched or picked up still but she's fearless when it comes to yanking treats out of my hand and will reluctantly climb onto my palm if I hold the treat out of her reach.


 

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You'd have to have a rex parent to have any rex babies since it is a dominant gene completely separate from the hairless gene (even though some double rexes can look hairless, they're not true hairless). You could have hairless pups if dad was hairless (all hairless litter) or a carrier (half hairless litter). However, the pup that is separate on the left in your first pic looks to have straight whiskers which would mean it's a standard furred rat. You should be able to tell by now what they're going to be; just do a whisker comparison to mom's adorable little face :)
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Thanks KK, I didn't realize that. I thought that rex/hairless genes went hand in hand. Is there any way to tell the difference between a true hairless and a double rex? The person I rescued her from was a backyard feeder breeder who threw her into a bin full of males and said she was one too so I don't even know how old she is, let alone her genetics. Now I'm curious though.

Update!

I got the formula today(would have sooner but I've been working mad hours this weekend, plus finding soy formula was surprisingly difficult) and used a paintbrush as suggested to attempt feedings. The two bigger pups(they're getting huge now!) turned their noses up at it altogether. Tiny took a couple sucks and then turned her nose up. She must be getting fed though because she's still quite an energetic little thing. After re-reading some pages on hand-feeding I think I probably wasn't holding them firmly enough and let them wriggle around in my hand. I'm not sure if I'm using the right size paintbrush though(I'm an artist and have loooots of paintbrushes.... fortunately I'm also a procrastinating artist so plenty of those brushes are unused). I'm using a size two(reference chart here: http://www.dickblick.com/info/brushpdf/brushsizing.pdf ), should I be using something bigger so it holds more formula? Right now there's a lot of back and forth from the mouth to the formula. I'll try again in a few hours before bed to see if anyone is more interested the second time around. I put the unused formula into a spare bottle for Mamma because I read in one of the many articles I've checked that it could help her in milk production. She seemed to like it.

In other news, I attempted to judge the gender of the pups. I think the two bigger ones are boys and that Tiny is a girl, so we'll see how accurate my conclusions are. If that's the case, I'll probably keep Tiny with Mamma and adopt the two boys out once they're old enough(five to six weeks, right?). It looks like one of the boys is going to have a berkshire belly and a cute little white tailtip and I think the other one might be self? They're starting to get fuzzy but I'm not sure if they'll be black/gray like their skin suggests or if they'll turn a different color as their fur comes in. Tiny's skin is a lot lighter and almost silvery looking. I would love if she turns out being a soft blue/grey. Forgot my phone again or I would have taken pictures to share.

One last thing! All three pups are very quiet. I hear them squeaking once in a while in the nest. I assume when Mamma is laying on them/nursing/pushing them around. But they never make much noise when I handle them except for some very occasional little grunts or chirps. Is that normal? My family used to breed dogs so I'm used to them being quite vocal about their wants and needs.
 
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