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Hello! My 16 year old daughter just got 2 young male rats. We just brought them home today and haven't even named them yet. One is a beautiful amber color and one is mostly white with a gray head. Our other pet family members include a mini rex rabbit, chocolate lab and a cat. I knew from being on a rabbit forum, that there were rat forums out there so I found this one. Greetings!

Now my question - the previous owner had these rats for about 2-3 weeks (they were a Christmas gift). He was feeding them Iams cat food and a seed blend for rats, mice, etc. (about 7/8 cat food to 1/8 seed blend). He said that they needed to stay on this diet. I haven't found anything to support that and since he didn't seem all that knowledgeable about rats, I'm thinking of switching to Oxbow rat food. Any thoughts? Should I do this slowly? Is it ok for a growing rat?

The rats came together in a tank (about 2 cubic feet for 2 rats) and we've moved them to a small animal cage with about 3/4" bar width openings. We will be in the market for something else if this doesn't work out, but it's much bigger for 2 rats and it's not a tank!
 

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The seed blend is OK for treats but not as their main food. They will pick and choose what they want and not get enough good nutrients. Some of the other people on the site will know better, but I think the cat food isn't a good choice, either. It's formulated for cats. I just switched to Oxbow Regal Rat because my vet looked at the ingredient list and decided it was the best between two choices that I took to him. It's pricey, but worth it (Iams is not cheap, either). There are all kinds of deals on Amazon and other sites. PetSmart is the only place here that sells it. If they are under 6 months, Oxbow has a baby rat formula.
 

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Cat food is way to high in protein for rats. Oxbow is the best lab block out their in most people's opinions. Just make sure to switch gradually. Your rats are soooo cute
 

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You've got a topaz dumbo and a blue capped there. Just a heads up to watch both of these if they get a nick or cut (or have there clotting tested before any surgery) as both varieties can have issues with blood clotting.

In terms of diet, in the US oxbow is probably the best available food to buy (though I'm a fan of home made mixes myself). Looking at your topaz in particular, he isn't in the best coat condition, probably because the previous owner fed him on such a rubbish diet. Your right to question it and I would expect him to get a lot better on a good diet. try to offer them fresh raw veg a couple of times a week too (mainly dark green leafy stuff) which you could drizzle a little bit of high omega 3 oil like flax or linseed oil. This will help them get there coat condition back and settle into their new diet.

You also don't need to transition them onto the oxbow, move straight onto it as rats adapt well. They do however need to slowly have the amount of veg increased, starting from a small amount, as otherwise they can get squishy poo's

As they are young lads whilst I'd recommend feeding them oxbow adult diet you may need to top them up with extra protein every now and then. Just look for them getting a long coat over there rump and square edges to there tail, then give them 1-2 of the following meals (replacing half there dry food and giving roughly a dessert spoon per rat) in a week then monitor for a couple of weeks to see if they improve;
*Natural wet cat / dog food - go for high quality stuff with recognizable ingredients not lots of meals and broad descriptions such as "poultry" rather than a named meat.
* scrambled egg and cooked rice with some veg and oil mixed in
* tinned fish in tomato sauce
* cooked chicken on the bone (inlcuidng the bone)

They shouldn't need the extra protein for at least a few weeks following getting onto a good diet as they've had a diet far too high in protiem for a while now, however at some point they will need it, and the trick is to only feed extra when there body tells you it needs it, rather than because you want to.

Treat wise try and keep them down to a minimum at first, to give them chance to get used to new foods. If they like it little bits of oxbow or ideal, alternatively some rice puffs or similar that are healthy, low calorie and not going to put them off there food.
 

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Thank you! I bought the Oxbow last night and will start them on it today. They seem to be settling in nicely. Next on the list is to find a vet that treats rats. The blue capped is a little sneezy but is acting fine. My daughter is worried about him though.
 

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How cute! I'm patiently waiting for the background/reference check from our local rescue to be able to adopt. Hopefully I'll get 4 girls tomorrow!!
 

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Thank you! I bought the Oxbow last night and will start them on it today. They seem to be settling in nicely. Next on the list is to find a vet that treats rats. The blue capped is a little sneezy but is acting fine. My daughter is worried about him though.
I just got Oxbow for my two and they are eating it up. I already abandoned keeping the Kaytee stuff in there because they took to it so well. I'm glad I ordered two bags from PetSmart.com. They were having a 99 cent shipping special and reduced the price of the food to $13.12. That beat the $8.99 on Amazon just because of shipping.
 
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